Assessor's Race Is On -- SPOKANE -- This election year looks like a hot one for the Spokane County Assessor's Office: Two Republicans have announced primary runs for the position. The winner expects to face Democratic incumbent Sadie Charlene Cooney.
The two GOP challengers are Duane Sommers, a longtime Republican activist and former state representative from Spokane, and Leonard "Len" Terzenbach, a political novice but experienced insurance agent, business owner and search-and-rescue volunteer. Both announced their candidacy at last weekend's party convention.
"I am running for assessor because I have had years of leadership experience in a number of administrative and management positions," says Sommers. Among those were his time in the Army Reserves -- he retired as a Lt. Colonel in 1982 -- and five-year management of an Eastern Washington health agency.
"The advantage I have is, I'm from the business sector," says Terzenbach. "They don't need a true politician in there. They need someone from a private background who can shape things up and get things done."
Both candidates fired initial rounds at Cooney, noting her recent court-ordered fine for violating elections laws by using county equipment and employees in the 1998 election.
Cooney says she's heard of the Republican challengers, but that she's not yet ready to announce her own re-election run.
The county assessor is charged with overseeing an office of several dozen employees and assessing property values so local governments can collect property taxes. Cooney assumed office in 1992, after more than 25 years working there. Elections for the four-year position come up in November. The position's annual salary is $61,000.
-- Dan Richardson
Supreme Answers -- Coeur d'Alene -- Call it the case of the tumultuous term limits. Approved by voters, overturned by the Legislature -- Idaho's term limits law has become the state's hot potato.
Now, the state Supreme Court has agreed to hear a lawsuit filed by term limits activists, including several from North Idaho.
The Supreme Court hearing is scheduled for May 2. If the court decides in favor of the term limits supporters, that ruling could throw out a number of incumbent office-holders running in the May 28 primary. They could still run as write-in candidates.
"They give me some hope this thing might be solved soon," says Don Morgan, a Post Falls stockbroker and chairman of Citizens for Term Limits (CTL), a faction of the pro-limits movement.
Coeur d'Alene lawyer Starr Kelso is arguing the case for CTL, maintaining that the Legislature exceeded its authority when it overturned the state's term limits law this winter, says Morgan.
Also, the Legislature declared its decision an emergency, so that term limits were struck down immediately instead of in midsummer -- thus protecting politicians running in the primary elections.
The Idaho Attorney General's Office has until Friday afternoon to respond to the term limits lawsuit. Commenting on the matter before then, said office spokesman Bob Cooper, "would be premature. The only thing I would add at his point is, it is the Attorney General's duty to defend the laws of Idaho."
In 2000, some state officeholders appealed a 1994 term limits law to the Supreme Court, which found that term limits for state politicians are constitutional. The Legislature then simply overturned the law this winter.
-- Dan Richardson
In the Company of Women -- SPOKANE -- A new luncheon, for women who like to discuss contemporary issues and meet new people, is seeing the light of day next week.
"We're wanting to start a semi-regular women's luncheon where women can gather, get inspired and walk away with some spiritual sustenance," says Mary Butler, who works for the YWCA and is organizing the lunch.
The event's keynote speaker is Anne Marie Liebhaber, a Spokane attorney and women's rights advocate.
Liebhaber graduated from Gonzaga's Law School with honors in 1992, while she was a single mother of six. She currently works for Catholic Charities, the Union Gospel Mission and YWCA's Alternatives to Domestic Violence program.
Butler is excited about having Liebhaber as the first of many speakers. Get your tickets early, she says, as the lunch is expected to sell out.
-- Sheri Boggs
The luncheon is on Wednesday,
May 1, at noon at the YWCA, 829 W. Broadway. Tickets: $10, including lunch. Call: 326-1190, ext. 154.