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City & County 

Election 2015: Breaking down the ballot

City Council | Kinnear vs. Biel

A City Hall insider and a local businesswoman vie for outgoing Councilman Mike Allen's District 2 seat. Lori Kinnear brings six years of experience as a legislative aide to councilmembers Richard Rush and, most recently, Amber Waldref. Kinnear touts her experience researching and drafting dozens of ordinances and establishing Spokane's Community Garden Program in 2010. LaVerne Biel, the CEO and co-owner of Access Unified Networks, a small business that installs voice and data services, says her perspective as a business owner is lacking among current councilmembers. One issue that divides the two is the city's proposed sick-leave ordinance. Biel says the law would put up a barrier for small businesses; Kinnear says she supports the idea, but would have to do more research before pledging support for the current proposal. (MITCH RYALS)

City Council | Stratton vs. Verduin

Councilwoman Karen Stratton and challenger Evan Verduin accuse each other of being proxies for the council president and mayor, respectively. Both deny it. After working a decade in city government, including for two mayors, Stratton was appointed to the council to finish out the term of Steve Salvatori, who resigned early. Verduin, the owner of an architectural design firm, says Stratton, who co-owns a recreational marijuana farm, has voted in near-lockstep with Council President Ben Stuckart. He says he'll be independent. Mayor David Condon has endorsed him, saying his perspective as a small business owner raising a young family is sorely needed on the council. Stratton, who has the backing of unions, including those representing firefighters and municipal workers, says the mayor's involvement in the race is unprecedented and defends her votes for jobs, human services and other measures that she says have helped her district. She's been reluctant to support the proposed sick-leave ordinance, a priority for Stuckart and progressive groups. (JAKE THOMAS)

City Council | Fagan vs. Ramos

Mike Fagan has been a consistent "no" vote on city council, which is why his opponents think it's time to say "yes" to first-time candidate Randy Ramos. Fagan, the most conservative and controversial councilmember, has voted "no" on a pilot program for parklets, or mini-parks. He's voted "no" on the bond for the revitalization of Riverfront Park. He's also made controversial comments regarding vaccines and immigrants, but is known for being especially responsive to constituents, even if they don't always share his politics. His opponents, including fellow councilmembers, say it's time to give a chance to Ramos, who has been praised for his work as a recruiter for the Spokane Tribal College and life skills coach at a drug treatment center. But the untested Ramos, who wants to help the city's vulnerable, made early stumbles; he voted for the first time only this year and failed to disclose a 2009 DUI. (JAKE THOMAS)

Spokane Mayor | Condon vs. Lichty

David Condon is trying to do something no Spokane mayor has done since David Rodgers in 1973 — win a second consecutive term. He took 66 percent of the vote in the primary and has raised more than $370,000 as of mid-October, far more than any other mayoral candidate in the state this year. His challenger, Shar Lichty, an organizer with the Peace and Action Justice League of Spokane, has hammered Condon ever since Police Chief Frank Straub was forced to resign. Most recently, she's filed ethics complaints against two of Condon's staff members for allegedly lying to the public. Condon has defended those statements from his administration, saying the City Hall staffers provided the most accurate information at the time. During a recent debate, Condon and Lichty took opposite stances on the Worker Bill of Rights — a local initiative that would guarantee a living wage for most employees of larger companies and protect workers against wrongful termination. Lichty's for it, Condon's against it. (MITCH RYALS)

City of Spokane Proposition 1 | Worker Bill of Rights

The Worker Bill of Rights, the fourth initiative from Envision Spokane to qualify for the ballot, will either be a leg up for workers or a kick in the ribs to the local economy. If it passes, depending on who you ask, it'll give much-deserved pay raises and protections to workers in Spokane or will just create higher unemployment. The initiative would require employers with 150 or more employees to pay a "family wage." Neither side is quite sure how that'll pencil out. Envision says it'll be $17 an hour; opponents say it'll be about $23 an hour. The initiative, if passed, would guarantee equal pay for equal work regardless of age, gender, race and 12 other factors and require bosses to give a "just cause" for firing workers. The fourth provision would restrict corporations' ability to challenge any other part of it, which opponents suspect is designed to invite litigation in order to make Spokane a test case opposing the idea of corporate personhood. Supporters include a dozen labor organizations and mayoral candidate Shar Lichty. Opponents include business groups, as well as both Mayor David Condon and Council President Ben Stuckart. (JAKE THOMAS)

Spokane County Proposition 1 | Expanding The Commission

Two of the three Spokane County commissioners think there should be five Spokane County commissioners. Todd Mielke and Shelly O'Quinn say the commissioners are stretched too thin. "People walk away feeling slighted when we can't get to their meeting," Mielke says. But Al French, vehemently opposed to his fellow commissioners, doesn't buy it. He says the county can't afford the change, and warns that Mielke and O'Quinn could redraw the boundaries to benefit themselves politically. Many prominent local Democrats who support the idea of five commissioners don't support the initiative either. They say the county must also begin electing commissioners by district, rather than countywide, to ensure more diversity on the commission. "If we decide to take this bend in the road, we are stuck with the status quo but have two more commissioners," says Mary Lou Johnson, a Democrat who ran for county commissioner last year. (DANIEL WALTERS)

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