oday, Karen Stratton is a city councilwoman, and one of the most vocal critics of Spokane Mayor David Condon and his administration. Today, Gavin Cooley is the city's chief financial officer, and one of the Condon administration's most ardent cheerleaders.
Their views diverge significantly on the recent scandal centering on how Condon and the city handled the still-unproven sexual harassment allegations against the police chief and subsequent media inquiries.
Now, there's been a recall attempt against Condon
. It's no surprise that Cooley hasn't championed the recall against his boss. Yet Stratton hasn't been pushing it, either.
"Because I've lived through one, I'm probably a little less inclined to be very verbal. It's a hard process. It's hard on the family. It's hard on your staff," Stratton says. "Because I've lived through one, I don't necessarily want to be too close to the next one as it goes on. I've just chosen to stand back and — I think of Jim a lot right now."
Both Stratton and Cooley were there, knee-deep, during the 2005 recall of Mayor Jim West. They saw what it did to the city and to the mayor they both respected. They see significant differences between then and now.
Flashback to 11 years ago: It's a snowy evening on Dec. 6, 2005. Both Stratton and Cooley are in the kitchen of Stratton's mother's house, standing beside West, watching as the final nail was driven into the coffin of the mayor's political career.
Stratton stands on her heels to switch the channels on the old TV atop the fridge as the results of the recall vote come in.
"This is it," West says. His fingers drum on his coffee cup as he waits.
It's a landslide: 65 percent to 35 percent.
"I lost," West says. "Big time. That's huge. Oh. Yeah."
He winces, takes a drink and recoils as the scale of the loss sets in.
"My god, it's huge," West repeats.
Stratton's mom, Lois Stratton, a former city councilwoman who served with West in the state legislature, attempts to offer condolences: "You'll probably live longer, Jim," Stratton says. "You'll probably live longer."
West would die less than eight months later, due to complications from a cancer surgery.
But back in that kitchen, on recall night, Cooley pops open a bottle of champagne. It's not to celebrate the loss, of course, but to commemorate what had been.
West lifts his glass.
"Here's to the city of Spokane," West says, his voice cracking slightly. "You know, it's a great place. Good people. We made great progress. We had a good year and a half — two years. You know, this place deserves to be excellent."
His eyes are just a little teary.
"So do your best. Keep up the good work," West says. "And thanks for being there."