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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Who is Tom Jones and why is he running as a write-in candidate for Spokane mayor?

Tom Jones, an official write-in candidate for mayor.

Lisa Brown and Nadine Woodward have won the August primary for the general election for Spokane mayor. But Spokane voters may have noticed a third candidate’s campaign signs appearing along Spokane streets.

Thomas “Tom” Jones, who describes himself as an independent, is an official write-in candidate for Spokane mayor.

In running, Jones hopes to “show people that the opportunity is out there. If you have good ideas and you have the desire to get into politics, you don’t need a Harvard education to make that happen.”

Jones’ ideas include keeping COVID-19 out of Spokane by not allowing infected patients to be transported to the city, preventing the installation of electric car charging stations in fixed-income locations and fixing Spokane’s traffic lights, which he says are asynchronized to generate revenue.

“Let’s make, and then maintain Spokane as a clean, sidewalk safe City, with no homeless and lower taxes,” reads Jones’ campaign website.

Though he doesn’t expect to win, Jones said in an interview, “If I was elected mayor, it would be a huge difference compared to what we have now.”

“If the citizens of Spokane elect somebody else, be it Lisa Brown or Nadine Woodward, by the time the next four years comes around, they’re going to beg for me to be in there because it’s just going to get worse,” he said.

In 2001, Jones pleaded guilty to felony stalking in Nevada after he “lost it” when his fiancée was sexually harassed at work.

Jones wrote on his website, “I have been sober from alcohol for over nine years and take medication for PTSD, Bipolar, and night terrors.”

Jones said he has learned from his experiences and argues they could benefit him as mayor, allowing him to “lead by example” and show those struggling with addiction or homelessness how to “become an asset to society.”

Because he has friends that make under $100,000 a year, Jones said he is more connected to Spokane voters than other candidates, which makes him better fit for the job.

Still, he added, “what’s awesome about being mayor is the only qualification for the position is you just have to be a voting resident in that jurisdiction … It’s not necessarily what skills you have as a mayor, it’s what ideas you have.”

Indeed, to become an official write-in candidate in Washington , one only needs to file a declaration of candidacy with the appropriate office. This document, which asks for basic personal information such as the candidate’s name, address and phone number, is required to differentiate a serious candidate from “Santa Clause” or “Mickey Mouse.”

Even then, per Washington code, votes for a specific write-in candidate are only counted if the total number of write-in votes exceeds the number of votes for the race’s apparent winner.

Roberta Simonson's reporting is part of the Teen Journalism Institute, funded by Bank of America with support from the Innovia Foundation.