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Posts published in “Day: August 21, 2007”

The Spokane 2

Dennis Hession

Dennis Hession

Mary Verner

Mary Verner

Spokane two or three decades back likely would have slam-dunked Dennis Hession in his election to hold the job of mayor to which he was appointed a couple of years back.

He looks and sounds like a mayor. He appears to have done a creditable job (from the Spokesman-Review's endorsement: "The city is performing well, and re-electing Hession would promise political stability under a capable hand.") Not Mr. Excitement, but steady and solid. And - significantly - one of the downtown professional/business crowd, an attorney comfortable with the community's power structure. All of that would seem to be plenty to win election.

That said, we'd right now give odds that in November Spokane's voters will replace him with Council member Mary Verner, who fits none of the traditional criteria but maybe satisfies where a lot of Spokane is headed.

That conclusion emerges from the early returns (we'll be back at this to look at the detailed numbers later) from the Tuesday primary. Three substantial candidates were running for mayor. As of this writing (with about 98% of ballots counted), Hession (a former council member) took 10,666, Verner 10,286 and fellow Council member Al French 9,206. Next step is the November runoff for the top two.

Hession has been a reasonably visible mayor and (in normal fashion) has trumpeted his activities at City Hall, but - maybe in reflection of the ongoing angry voter mood - all three incumbent city officials wound up loosely trying to position themselves as outsider insurgents. That was most problematic for Hession who is, after all, trying to say at the same time that the current team is already doing a good job.

Verner's second place finish may result from the sense that she seems least like a downtown insider. Two months ago we wrote that "Hession and French seem to have more a downtown business perspective, while Verner’s seems more shaped by policy activism, such as the environmental and resource staff work she did earlier in her career. (Echoes of it continue to show up - consider the long list of policy interests on her web site.)" Professionally, Verner is like Hession an attorney, but there the similarity ends; she is executive director of the Upper Columbia United Tribes.


OR AG: Myers is out

Hardy Myers

Hardy Myers

In the extensive roster of departing electeds in Oregon, put Attorney General Hardy Myers in the "expected" category; he cites age (he'll be 69 in 2008) and longevity - 12 years in the office.

As a candidate for re-election, Myers has had the assets of staying out of trouble and sound legislative experience (as a former House speaker), but a firey ball of charisma he isn't; in that, he's a fair argument for the natural head start Democrats have in running statewide these days.

That may be why immediate interest seems to settle on two Democrats as prospects for the race: state Representative Greg MacPherson, D-Lake Oswego, a major figure in the last session (a significant player on land use), and John Kroger, a law professor at Lewis & Clark College who has never run for office but has a fascinating professional history. Reportedly, both have some interest in the race.

No Republicans yet; don't expect that field to remain empty for long.

Let’s get this straight

As Washington voters wrap up their primary voting today (almost wrote, "head to the polls," that now be nearly an anachronism), we'll be paying most attention to the city elections in Spokane and the port election in Seattle. (Seattle council looks to be an incumbent-heavy snoozer.)

And we may note the discernment of voters in a couple of Spokane instances.

The Spokesman-Review's Hard 7 blog has a pointed post about the paper's local endorsements. From the original editorials:

Council District 1

Donna McKereghan: This council seat, which represents northeast Spokane, calls for a change from incumbent Councilman Bob Apple, who too often finds himself isolated from other council members. Going against the tide has its place, but public interests would be better served by a council member with the energy and savvy to dig into issues and help craft collaborative solutions. Challenger Donna McKereghan has shown herself eager and able to take on that role. ...

Council District 3

John Waite: Legislative bodies need at least one voice that can be counted on for an unorthodox contribution to the conversation. John Waite, seeking the northwest Spokane seat being vacated by Rob Crow, represents that and more. ...

Meaning the criteria for endorsement are . . . what exactly? Hard 7 suggests, "Um, maybe in the next election, the board can endorse Apple as a challenger in his district and call for Waite's removal in his."