On most issues, Ed Pace and Andrew Biviano don't see eye-to-eye, to say the least.
Pace, a Spokane Valley City Councilman, is a self-proclaimed libertarian, constitutionalist, Tea Party Republican (who says he doesn't feel obligated to be loyal to any political party). Biviano, a former mental health case worker who is now a civil rights attorney, is a Democrat running for a seat on the Spokane County Board of Commissioners.
But when Pace announced this summer who he endorsed for county commissioner, he didn't choose the Republican who currently occupies the seat, Shelly O'Quinn. Instead, he chose Biviano.
"It's not because Biviano and I are on the same side of the political spectrum — in fact, we're on opposite ends of it," Pace says.
So why does Pace endorse Biviano? It's partly because he values his experience as an attorney and mental health case worker. He thinks Biviano's skills in those areas will be helpful to the county.
Pace and Biviano also agree that Greater Spokane Incorporated should not be funded by the government. And because, in Pace's view, O'Quinn is a "true politician," meaning her stances are prone to change based on the "political winds."
"I believe [Biviano] has a heart for doing the right thing and a real passion for justice. I think he's got good ideas for reforming criminal justice," Pace says.
Those ideas include improving probation services, more electric home monitoring and better pretrial services. O'Quinn says she shares many of those goals
and hopes a $1.7 million MacArthur Foundation grant to reduct overcrowding and racial disparities in the Spokane County Jail will spur progress on those ideas.
In the other race for county commissioner between Candace Mumm and Josh Kerns
, Pace endorsed Kerns, who is more closely aligned with Pace's political views.
But the endorsement of Biviano becomes more interesting when you remember that Pace is a well-known supporter of Spokane Valley Rep. Matt Shea, who campaigned against Biviano's wife, Amy Biviano, four years ago. That race at times became ugly and deeply personal
before Shea won the seat.
Shea has been a topic of discussion in the race between Andrew Biviano and O'Quinn. Biviano has challenged O'Quinn to publicly condemn accusations Shea has made against Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich
. But when Biviano decided he would take a stand against Shea, he called Pace and let him know he was going to do it. Pace, Biviano says, told him that he understood and they both agreed they could speak their minds without fear of retribution.
Beyond that, Pace and Biviano acknowledge they don't agree on much. Pace, he points out, "knows abortion is murder," while Biviano is pro-choice. Biviano says he didn't ask for Pace's endorsement, but that Pace reached out to him and asked if they could meet. They had breakfast together and talked about "every issue under the sun" before Pace made his decision.
But if you ask them, they share one fundamental belief: that it's OK to disagree sometimes.
"We believed we could do what's most important, which is work together and make compromises," Biviano says. "[We agree on] the idea that people should have more of a voice, and that we can't get anything done unless we work with people who have very different views from us."