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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Candidates for local office scramble as Aug. 1 election looms

A voter casts her ballot at the downtown Spokane Public Library in this October 2018 photo.  (Libby Kamrowski)

Tuesday is the August primary election, the first chance for Spokane voters to weigh in on a number of local races, including for mayor, City Council president and City Council seats representing south and northwest Spokane.

Municipal elections this year have been characterized by different approaches to homelessness, housing, public safety and financial sustainability.

Candidates for mayor and City Council president will appear on the ballots of all Spokane voters, while candidates for council districts 2 or 3, covering south and northwest Spokane respectively, will only appear on the ballots of voters living in one of those districts.

Voters living within the Spokane Public Schools district will have their pick among three candidates for school board.

While Councilman Michael Cathcart of District 1, covering northeast Spokane, is up for re-election and faces Lindsey Shaw, only races with more than two candidates appear on the August primary ballot.

Online and by-mail voter registration was due by Monday, but residents can register to vote in person at the Spokane County Elections Office as late as Tuesday night.

Voters must have their ballots postmarked or deposited at a drop-off site by 8 p.m., and early results will be available later that night.

Only two candidates in each race will advance to the November ballot. Especially in Spokane’s most competitive races, voters will have many choices for public office from a politically diverse crowd of candidates.

MayorFive candidates are on the ballot for Spokane mayor, including incumbent Nadine Woodward, who is seeking re-election to a second term. Her challengers include Lisa Brown, the former Democratic majority leader of the state Senate and former state Department of Commerce director; former firefighter union president Tim Archer; yurt-maker Patrick McKann; and city streets worker Kelly Stevens.

The race for the mayor’s office is this year’s most closely watched election and has attracted record-breaking sums of campaign donations. Candidates were given a final chance to make their case to voters during a live TV debate Wednesday at the downtown library, offering plans to address homelessness and public safety and defending their records.

Council presidentCouncilwoman Betsy Wilkerson, a progressive and the chosen successor of former Council President Breean Beggs, faces off against Kim Plese, a conservative former small business owner who ran unsuccessfully last year for a seat on the Spokane County Commission as a Republican. Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Andy Rathbun, a conservative landlord, is also running, though he has told local media in recent weeks that he does not expect to advance past the primary.

While the winner of the November election would generally not be sworn in until the following January, this year’s Council president-elect will come into office rapidly after the election is certified because the seat is filled on a temporary basis. Then-Councilwoman Lori Kinnear was appointed City Council president on July 17 after Beggs left the dais to start his new job as a Spokane County Superior Court judge.

South SpokaneFour candidates are vying to represent south Spokane on the City Council this year.

They include Paul Dillon, the vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho; Cyndi Donahue, a small business owner and U.S. Air Force honorary commander; educator Katey Treloar; and Mike Naccarato, a purchaser for HDT Global.

When they entered the race, the four expected to be running to replace Kinnear, whose term was set to expire at the end of the year.

But because Kinnear was appointed City Council president earlier this month, an applicant will be appointed on Aug. 28 to replace her, only until the November election is certified.

Like the winner of this year’s council president race, the candidate selected by voters to represent South Spokane this November won’t wait until next year to take office.

Northwest SpokaneThe race to represent northwest Spokane is the most crowded local election this year.

Esteban Herevia, who until recently served as president and CEO of Spokane Pride; Christopher Savage, Meals on Wheels Spokane board president; and Randy McGlenn II, former chair of the state Libertarian Party, were the first to announce their candidacies this spring.

They were followed into the race by environmental advocate Kitty Klitzke, retired respiratory therapist Earl Moore and Darren McCrea, who opened Eastern Washington’s first medical marijuana dispensary.

Each of the six candidates hopes to fill a seat held by Councilwoman Karen Stratton, whose term expires at the end of this year. The district is also represented by Councilman Zack Zappone.

Spokane public schoolsVoters have their pick among three candidates in this year’s primary election for the Spokane Public Schools seat occupied by Mike Wiser: the incumbent or one of two newcomers, Ericka Lalka and David Voltz.

Sex education and school safety have become the major issues of the race.

Lalka is receptive to armed security inside schools and wants parents to have to opt-in their children to receive information on procreation and sex, rather than the current statewide standard of opting out.

Voltz declined an earlier interview request, but has said on his Facebook page that he is “committed to ending perverted sex education and critical race theory in our schools.” Critical race theory is not taught as part of the district’s curriculum.

Wiser has served six years on the school board and has positioned himself as the candidate to stay the district’s current course.