Woodward narrowly trails Brown, Wilkerson leads Plese, Jail failing, homeless ban approved in Spokane

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(The Center Square) — Challenger Lisa Brown has taken a thin lead over incumbent Nadine Woodward in their race for Spokane mayor, based on preliminary returns in Tuesday’s general election.

“There’s more votes to count, but it really does look good,” Brown told a large crowd gathered at her election watch party after initial tallies were posted by the Spokane County Auditor’s Office.

Brown held a 1,577-vote lead, 23,217 to 21,650, over Woodward, who is completing her first four-year term as mayor of Washington state’s second-largest city after being elected in 2019.

“The results show that this is a razor-thin margin with thousands of votes left to be counted,” Woodward said in a statement after initial results were posted.

All told, about 96,000 ballots are expected to be tabulated with an update planned on Wednesday.

“We look forward to all the votes being counted and we believe we will be successful when all the votes are counted,” said Woodward, adding, “I have not conceded to Lisa Brown; Lisa Brown has not conceded to me.”

All of the local elective positions on Tuesday’s ballot are non-partisan, but there were distinct political overtones to Spokane’s mayoral campaign, with each candidate receiving over $500,000 in contributions, according to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission.

Woodward, 61, a longtime local broadcast journalist before taking office, received support from local Republican officials, business owners, and conservative outlets.

Brown, 67, a former state Commerce director and Democratic state legislator, in turn thanked fellow Democrats and organized labor for their support, along with “all Spokane voters who supported the vision of a better way forward.”

Preliminary results from other local contested races included:

SPOKANE CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT: This open seat is between current council member Betsy Wilkerson, who is leading former businesswoman Kim Plese, 23,588 (53.1%) to 20,708 (46.6%).

SPOKANE CITY COUNCIL: Three council seats were on Tuesday’s ballot, with votes confined within their respective districts.

In District 1, incumbent Michael Cathcart (4,968, 56.9%) was prevailing over challenger Lindsey Shaw (3,716, 42.6%).

In District 2, Wilkerson’s bid for council president left an open seat between Paul Dillon and Katey Randall Treloar. Dillon leads, 9,842 (53.4%) to 8,529 (46.3%).

In District 3, another open race between Kitty Klitzke and Earl Moore. Klitzke has a significant lead, 9,899 (60.1%) to 6,484 (39.4%).

SPOKANE VALLEY CITY COUNCIL: Voters are deciding three positions on the seven-member Spokane Valley 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, 8,270 (62.9%) to 4,670 (35.5%).

In Position 3, challenger Al Merkel is outpolling incumbent Arne Woodard, 8,466 (64.7%) to 4,507 (34.4%)

Position 6 incumbent Tim Hattenburg is leading his opponent Rob Chase, 7,200 (53.7%) to 6,148 (45.9%).

BALLOT INITIATIVES: Two widely publicized ballot measures considered by Spokane voters faced vastly different outcomes Tuesday night.

In Spokane County, voters are roundly rejecting Measure 1, with 57,633 no votes (62.9%) cast compared to 34,024 yes votes (37.1%)

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, plus public safety and behavioral health services. Revenue would be shared by the county and its cities and towns.

Within Spokane city limits, Proposition 1 is passing with 75.4% of the vote – 33,597 in favor; 10,976 opposed.

If approved, 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.

The proposition is spearheaded by local attorney Brian Hansen and Spokane councilman Jonathan Bingle.

On Oct. 25, the state Division III Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a lawsuit challenging the initiative process.

Former city council president Ben Stuckart, who now runs a low-income housing consortium, and Jewels Helping Hands, a nonprofit providing services to unsheltered persons, are plaintiffs who allege the proposition is beyond the scope of local initiative power. They are seeking a court ruling to invalidate the proposition and any election action on it.

A ruling by the appellate court 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.

Washington is a vote-by-mail state. Counties have until Nov. 28 to canvass and certify their election results, which are then submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office in Olympia.

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