(The Center Square) – Lisa Brown has prevailed in the race for Spokane mayor.
Brown held a 2,822-vote lead over incumbent Nadine Woodward with about two dozen ballots left to count, according to updated tallies posted Monday by the Spokane County Auditor’s Office. Woodward conceded afterward.
Final results from the Nov. 7 general election must be certified by Nov. 28 and submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office in Olympia.
Brown wasn’t waiting, issuing a statement Friday declaring victory.
“I’m very grateful to have been chosen by the voters to be the next Mayor of Spokane,” Brown wrote. “Thank you to the volunteers and everyone who believed in our vision of a better way. I’m ready and excited to go to work for the city that we love.”
Following Monday’s update, Brown was leading by 4 percentage points over Woodward – 36,435 (51.7%) to 33,613 (47.7%). Brown had incrementally expanded her advantage since leading by 1,577 votes on election night.
Woodward did not concede in a statement issued Saturday, saying she “intended to see this through to the final ballot,” but then acknowledged her pending loss Monday evening.
Woodward said she had congratulated Brown and intended for her office to provide an orderly transition to the mayor-elect.
“Being able to serve the city I love as mayor has been an honor and a privilege,” Woodward said in a Monday night statement. “We embraced the opportunity in every challenge, put the community first in everything we did, and accomplished so much to advance your priorities.”
Spokane continues its reputation for one-term mayors. The 61-year-old Woodward, a former longtime local broadcast journalist, will be the 11th of the past 12 mayors to serve only a single four-year term as the city’s top elected official.
Brown, 67, is a former state Democratic legislator, state Department of Commerce director, chancellor of Washington State University’s Spokane campus, and college economics instructor. She will begin her term Jan. 1 as the city’s 46th mayor and fifth woman to hold the position, which will carry an annual salary of $179,148.
During their campaigns, both candidates listed public safety, reducing crime, economic development, and addressing homelessness, affordable housing, and a potential budget shortfall as primary issues.
Although the mayor and city council positions are non-partisan, Woodward got backing from Republicans, business interests, and conservative outlets. Brown was endorsed by Democrats, organized labor, and progressive organizations. Each candidate received over $500,000 in campaign donations.
Brown received criticism over a controversial ad inferring Woodward prayed for Spokane to be enveloped in flames, referencing a prayer at a service the mayor attended. Woodward said she was unaware that she would be sharing a stage with former Republican lawmaker Matt Shea in a prayer for the safety of area firefighters.
The two differed on two significant ballot initiatives considered by Spokane voters. Woodward supported and Brown opposed Measure 1 – a proposal to raise the countywide sales tax by 0.2% over 30 years for criminal justice funding to the county and its cities and towns – and Proposition 1 – which calls for banning homeless encampments within 1,000 of schools, parks, playgrounds, and child care facilities within town.
Measure 1 was roundly rejected by voters (63% opposed, 37% in favor) on Nov. 7.
Proposition 1 passed with nearly 75% of the vote, although an appellate court ruling is pending on whether a local initiative could legally be placed on the ballot.
Brown is predicted to bring a more-liberal tilt to the mayor’s office, which coincides with the majority makeup of the seven-member city council. Three council seats were up for election and two were open seats in which progressive candidates prevailed.
In District 2, Paul Dillon garnered 53.1% of the vote to outpoll Katey Treloar. In District 3, Kitty Klitzke had a strong showing, getting 59.4% of the vote against Earl Moore.
In District 1, incumbent Michael Cathcart, deemed one of two more-conservative council members, won re-election with nearly 56% of the vote against challenger Lindsey Shaw.
In the race for city council president, current council member Betsy Wilkerson holds a 4,500-vote and 6%-point advantage over former business owner Kim Plese. Wilkerson will succeed current council chair Lori Kinnear in the new year.
Spokane County has 363,058 registered voters and, as of Monday, election officials processed 155,164 ballots with only 25 ballots remaining to tally. Voter turnout was 42.7% countywide.