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Council Seats and Crash Zones 

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Spokane City Council, Districts 2 and 3

Jon Snyder, Candace Mumm

A couple of factors have come together to turn what used to be routine races around here into big-money fights. First, we created the Strong Mayor system, which is by definition more political. That's not necessarily a bad thing — presidents lobby for their favorites, and our mayors will, too. But the second factor is the fact that Washington's GOP is lost in the political wilderness — they won just one relatively minor statewide race in 2012, and now their national brand is in tatters. So they are concentrating their fire on races they think they can win, like the officially nonpartisan Spokane City Council. Then perhaps, they believe, they can test out their mostly dead-end austerity ideas and climb back into relevance.

And they just can't seem to kick their nasty habits, which is why we see ominous TV ads claiming incumbent City Councilman Jon Snyder and candidate Candace Mumm are "bought and paid for." These are the tactics we've seen nationally, creating the winner-take-all politics that nearly sent the nation over an economic cliff this month. So it's left to city voters to decide if Tea Party politics are something they want to encourage here.

It's kind of sad, really, that Mumm's opponent Michael Cannon is being introduced to the community under such circumstances. He seems to have a lot to offer, but with friends like his you have to wonder who that "bought and paid for" charge really applies to. And in the other race, John Ahern is a known quantity: For 10 years he served in the State House without much to show for it. There's no reason to believe he will suddenly get more effective as he enters his ninth decade.

Jon Snyder has been a great advocate for the kind of dynamic community we all want Spokane to become — he is an energetic leader who brings people together to solve problems. And Candace Mumm has an impressive list of community volunteering, neighborhood activism and professional experience that makes her a safe bet. She would follow Nancy McLaughlin's lead in staying close to the concerns of residents of northwest Spokane.

Spokane County Proposition 1

NO

The most irritating thing about Proposition 1 is that it feels like a vote against Fairchild if you don't support it. That is not the case. All of Spokane is united in keeping Fairchild right where it is, but this is a $20 million ask with more questions than answers.

When the idea of buying up low-income housing in the crash zone outside Fairchild first came up, it was coupled with a plan to build more low-income housing, so those displaced would have a place to go. The state did not fund that, and local nonprofits involved in low-income housing have warned there is not enough capacity to guarantee homes for the displaced. Will Proposition 1 just add to our homeless problem?

At its root, this is designed to make sure Fairchild survives the next time the Pentagon closes bases. But there's no proof that encroachment on crash zones is even a factor. Is it worth $20 million to address crash-zone issues because they might be a factor in future base closure decisions?

And if you look at the potential of losing human life in the event of a crash, Proposition 1 would actually call for locating light industrial uses on those same properties. So it's OK if 50 people die, but it's not OK if 200 die? That's a cold calculation. And keep in mind, these are the best flight crews on the planet, so how real is the threat of a crash? Is it worth $20 million to only partially eliminate that threat?

We are all for creating the best case for keeping Fairchild in the Inland Northwest, but there are limits — in cash and common sense. Yes, we do need to address the crash-zone issue, but this proposal needs to go back into the oven to get fully baked. ♦

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