Lisa Brown keeps lead in race for Spokane mayor as ballot counts resume



(The Center Square) – Spokane mayoral candidate Lisa Brown slightly expanded her election night lead over incumbent Nadine Woodward following updated vote tallies late Thursday afternoon by the Spokane County Auditor’s Office.

Brown is leading Woodward by 1,741 votes – 28,190 (51.3%) to 26,449 (48.2%). Brown held a 1,577-vote advantage on Tuesday.

Countywide, an estimated 28,000 ballots remain to be counted, but not all will apply to the city’s mayor’s race. Another update is planned Friday, according to the auditor’s office.

Brown, a former Democratic state legislator and state Commerce director, is looking to unseat Woodward, a longtime local broadcast journalist who is completing her first four-year term in office.

While the position is non-partisan, the contentious race had distinct political overtones. Woodward was supported by local and state Republicans, realtors, business owners and conservative outlets. Brown got support from Democrats and organized labor groups, unions, and progressive organizations. According to the state Public Disclosure Commission, both candidates received over $500,000 each for their campaigns in Washington’s second-largest city.

In other election tallies for seats on the Spokane and Spokane Valley city councils, none of the candidates who were leading Tuesday night were overtaken as a result of Thursday’s vote update.

In their bid for Spokane City Council president, current council member Betsy Wilkerson continues to outpoll former businesswoman Kim Plese, 28,595 (52.8%) to 25,391 (46.9%).

Three Spokane City Council seats were on Tuesday’s ballot, with votes confined within their respective districts.

In District 1, incumbent Michael Cathcart (5,891, 57%) was prevailing over challenger Lindsey Shaw (4,358, 42.2%).

In District 2, Wilkerson’s bid for council president left an open seat between Paul Dillon and Katey Randall Treloar. Dillon leads, 11,650 (53.3%) to 10,110 (46.2%).

In District 3, there is another open race between Kitty Klitzke and Earl Moore. Klitzke has a significant lead, 12,505 (59.3%) to 8,429 (40%).

In Spokane Valley, voters are deciding three positions on the seven-member city council. All the council seats are at-large positions serving four-year terms.

Position 2 is an open race between Jessica Yaeger and Rachel Briscoe, with Yaeger leading, 9,738 (62.8%) to 5,493 (35.4%).

In Position 3, challenger Al Merkel is outpolling incumbent Arne Woodard, 9,971 (64.7%) to 5,289 (34.3%)

Position 6 incumbent Tim Hattenburg is leading his opponent Rob Chase, 8,467 (53.6%) to 7,262 (45.9%).

There was no significant change in the outcome of two widely publicized ballot measures considered by Spokane voters.

In Spokane County, voters have roundly rejected Measure 1, with 69,914 no votes (63.1%) compared to 40,910 yes votes (36.9%). The proposal called for raising the countywide sales 0.2% for 30 years to raise an estimated $1.7 billion dedicated to criminal justice purposes, including a new county jail. Revenue would have been shared by the county and its cities and towns.

Within Spokane city limits, Proposition 1 is easily passing with 75.2% of the vote – 40,816 in favor; 13,478 opposed. The proposition calls for amending Spokane’s municipal code to prohibit encampments within 1,000 of schools, public parks, playgrounds, and child care facilities.

Sponsors say the measure is intended to protect children from potentially disruptive or dangerous behavior in homeless encampments. Opponents say it unfairly targets disadvantaged persons who aren’t breaking any laws.

Despite the popular vote, the proposition remains uncertain. Last month, a state appellate court heard oral arguments in a lawsuit challenging the initiative process, with plaintiffs alleging it is beyond the scope of local initiative power. The court has been asked to invalidate the measure and any election action on it.

A ruling is still pending, leaving unanswered questions about the measure’s fate. Opponents also question its constitutionality based on a federal court ruling which says camping can’t be prohibited on city property if shelter space is not available for homeless persons.

Spokane County elections workers resumed their ballot counting Thursday after closing their office Wednesday morning when they received an envelope containing a suspicious powder. Spokane police later said the substance tested positive as fentanyl, a synthetic opioid.

Similar incidents occurred in three other county election offices in western Washington. Traces of fentanyl were also confirmed from an envelope received in King County while a substance received in Pierce County was determined to be baking soda. The Skagit County elections department also received a suspicious envelope which prompted a precautionary evacuation, but information regarding findings there was not immediately available. No illnesses were reported in any of the affected counties.

Local, state and federal authorities are investigating the incidents.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Secretary of State Steve Hobbs issued statements saying the incidents underscore the need for stronger protections for all election workers, and for elections themselves.

“Democracy rests upon free and fair elections,” said Hobbs. “These incidents are acts of terrorism to threaten our elections.”

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