by Kevin Taylor & r & Incumbent Al French appeared to be cruising to a second term as City Councilman for Spokane's northeast side. In early returns, French was leading challenger Tina Howard by more than 1,000 votes. More than 60 percent of the voters in northeast Spokane's council District 1 cast ballots in French's favor.
"I voted for Al French," Sheila McEvoy said Tuesday after casting her ballot at Fourth Memorial Church near Standard and Indiana in the Logan neighborhood. "I like what he is doing. I think he's got the interest of the district at heart. So I see no reason to change."
The campaign appeared to be a mismatch from the get-go as French, a longtime activist with neighborhood councils and, eventually, the City Council, was able to show greater familiarity with issues facing the city than did Howard. French, a business owner, was quick on his feet in debates and smoothly articulated plans or strategies for problems facing the city.
Howard, in her first run for office, often appeared at a loss for words. As a working-class wife and mom who says she often struggles to make ends meet, Howard appealed to voters as a better match for the hardscrabble northeast district than the sleek and polished French. But even the votes for Howard weren't always votes for change.
"I voted for Tina because she was a female -- pretty much because of that," voter Sarah LaSarte said.
LaSarte said it was the anti-smoking initiative (which she favors even though she is a smoker) that brought her to the polls. She says she didn't study the other issues and was shocked to learn Tuesday afternoon that she wasn't required to fill in the rest of her ballot.
"I thought if you didn't fill in all the dots, your vote wouldn't count," she laughed.