& & Regarding the way the Spokane County Commissioners, as a group, are currently doing their jobs, do you tend to approve, disapprove or are you neutral? & &
Don't know: 3%
Regarding the way ___________ is handling his/her job as county commissioner, do you tend to approve, disapprove or are you neutral?
Don't know: 5%
Don't know: 7%
Don't know: 6%
& & Within the last two years, has your personal trust in Spokane County government increased, stayed the same or decreased? & &
Stayed the same: 56%
Don't know: 5%
& & Right now, would you say you personally trust Spokane's county government strongly, moderately, not very or not at all? & &
Not very: 29%
Not at all: 5%
& & Inside the numbers & &
Relatively speaking, Spokane County has the trust of its residents. Although a third of its constituents say they don't trust Spokane County government very much or at all, the county can take comfort when it compares itself to the city of Spokane. While 63 percent say they trust the county as much as or more than they did two years ago, only 52 percent in the city make a similar claim. And while only 53 percent in the city say they moderately or strongly trust the government, in the county the figure is 66 percent.
Keeping a low profile may be the key. Voters admit to a lower level of awareness about the county. When asked how familiar they were with the activities of the Spokane County Commissioners over the past 12 months, only 44 percent said they were very or moderately familiar with their activities. But when the same question was asked about the city, 61 percent said they were very or moderately familiar. On its face, it seems a correlation can be drawn between knowing more about a government and giving it a lower approval rating. Is it like that old adage that compares public policy to sausage - you like it until you see how it's made? It's not so simple, as it would take years of tracking to establish such a connection, but it would be interesting to see similar poll results from several years ago when Steve Hasson dominated local news the way Steve Eugster has in recent months. One of our citizen commentators, Tony Blake (p. 17), said: "The commissioners are too secluded. No one really knows what they're doing. They need more exposure."
People like individuals better than the institution. As is the case in the city, the approval rating for the Spokane County Board of Commissioners is lower than those for individual commissioners. In fact, no individual commissioner has a lower approval rating or a higher disapproval rating than the whole. Again, the cross-tabulation results offer a look at where individual commissioners draw their support. John Roskelley, not surprisingly, has strong support from Democrats. But he also has the support of older people (55 and older), although men tend to be more disapproving of him. Kate McCaslin has the support of Republicans, older people and men. And Phil Harris is the least defined of any elected official, city or county, with 61 percent saying they view him neutrally. As for the board as a whole, men, older people and Republicans tend to approve of its performance more, while women, young people (18-34) and political independents and members of third parties tend to be more disapproving.
The statistics in this section are based on the results of a major community survey conducted by Strategic Research Associates of Spokane between July 15 and Aug. 3, 2000. SRA polled 450 Spokane County residents 18 and older who have lived in the county for three months or more. The sample was also weighted to match the county's demographical makeup by age, by gender and by city and non-city residents. The results of this 112-question survey offer a margin of error of & plusmn;4.6 percent.
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