Pin It

The Final Stretch 

The races for Spokane school board, Valley city council and Post Falls mayor

Top Job in Post Falls

As longtime Post Falls Mayor Clay Larkin steps down this year, two experienced city councilmembers — bank executive Ron Jacobson and retired newspaper publisher Kerri Thoreson — now face off for the top position at City Hall.

Jacobson, 57, a senior vice president of Inland Northwest Bank, has spent 14 years on the Post Falls City Council. He now serves as council president as well as a board member for the North Idaho College Foundation.

As council president, Jacobson has previously stood in for the mayor during vacations or illness, giving him a taste of the job. He says a mayor is more than a "figurehead." He or she must demonstrate strong leadership, rally support and keep the city on track.

"I won't have any learning curve," Jacobson says, adding, "I feel I'm the best, most qualified candidate."

With 35 years in banking, Jacobson says he wants to control spending and partner with the business community on strengthening economic development. He also hopes to focus on public safety and expand veterans programs.

Thoreson, 61, now works as an independent writer-photographer after previously working as publisher of the Post Falls Tribune and executive director of the Post Falls Chamber of Commerce. She joined the city council in 2008. She has also served on several local committees for economic development, parks, social and veterans services.

With a focus on job creation, Thoreson says she plans to foster communication and support between city officials and business owners. She also hopes to meet with every city employee to solicit suggestions for efficiencies or programs. Above all, she says she wants to promote a "responsive and respectful" government that delivers the assistance and support citizens deserve.

Both candidates expressed a desire to improve the city's tax structure, which currently draws 89 percent of property taxes from residents and 11 percent from commercial entities. Thoreson and Jacobson both indicated they would like to even out that balance and broaden revenues.


Sally's Back

This isn't the first time Sally Fullmer has taken on the Spokane School Board. In 2011, she unsuccessfully ran against newcomer Deana Brower. Now, Fullmer is back, this time running against incumbent school board director Bob Douthitt. "We all know what's wrong with our schools," Fullmer writes on her website, whose tagline is "Less Bureaucracy. More Results."

She's critical about the Common Core standards, the "failed math curriculum" and what she sees as the board's lack of transparency. She wants to start televising meetings and slash the length of board terms from six to four years.

Douthitt, on the other hand, is proud of where the schools are, pointing to his record over the past six years: improvements in graduation rates and AP scores, cutbacks in the size of administration and implementation of full-day kindergarten.

He says he supports providing more options to families, like charter schools. He wants to focus on post-secondary education. And he wants to increase the emphasis on science, technology, math and engineering courses. He's racked up a long list of endorsements, including former Rep. George Nethercutt, State Sen. Andy Billig, developer Walt Worthy, business owner Mike Senske, and City Council President Ben Stuckart.

Already, the race seems lopsided. According to campaign records, Douthitt has raised nearly $17,000 from groups like the League of Education Voters and the progressive Inland Northwest Leadership PAC. Fullmer hasn't raised a cent.


Who's Most Conservative of Them All?

With the controversial Sprague Appleway Revitalization Project long since eliminated, it might be easy to think the "Positive Change" group and its backers would matter less when it came to the Spokane Valley City Council. But there's at least one race where that phrase still has punch.

Incumbent Gary Schimmels was once a member of the Positive Change group, but his former backers have since turned against him, arguing that the even more conservative Ed Pace is the true heir to the Positive Change throne. With more than $15,000, Pace's fundraising far outpaces every other candidate. (Schimmels hasn't raised anything.) While Pace's rhetoric in favor of cutting spending and keeping taxes low is slightly stronger than Schimmels' statements in interviews and debates, the views expressed by each of the eight candidates vying for four seats have been fairly similar.

Chuck Hafner, who led the Positive Change group from behind the scenes in 2009, leads substantially in fundraising against 28-year-old financial advisor Donald Morgan Jr. In a debate, both candidates said they would look to cuts first to balance the budget, but would be open to raising taxes if it came to that.

Linda Thompson, executive director of the Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council, lost a coin toss to Rod Higgins in the competition to be appointed to fill a council seat in February. Both have expressed frustration at Spokane Valley's nearly nude barista stands.

Mayor Tom Towey isn't running for re-election, but his half-brother, planning commission director Bill Bates, is running to replace him. He faces off against Fred Beaulac, another planning commissioner. Beaulac has raised funds from the city employees union and former councilman Bill Gothmann, while Bates has raised money from Positive Change supporters and the Spokane County Deputy Sheriff's Association.


  • Pin It

Speaking of Election 2013

  • Ahern requests recount
  • Ahern requests recount

    After losing to Jon Snyder, Ahern is requesting and paying for a hand recount of four precincts.
    • Dec 3, 2013
  • It Ain't Over
  • It Ain't Over

    I-522 supporters lost their first fight to label genetically engineered foods in Washington; now it's on to Round Two
    • Nov 21, 2013
  • The "Yes on 522" campaign to label GMOs has officially conceded
  • The "Yes on 522" campaign to label GMOs has officially conceded

    The Yes on 522 campaign to label genetically engineered foods in Washington officially conceded this evening, having won just under 49 percent of the vote.
    • Nov 14, 2013
  • More »

Latest in News

  • Buried in the Headlines
  • Buried in the Headlines

    Big stories largely ignored by the mainstream media
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • A Sense 
of Détente
  • A Sense of Détente

    In only two months, the seemingly intractable battle between mayor and council has turned into an exuberant truce
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • Not Green Enough
  • Not Green Enough

    State says no carbon exemption for Spokane Waste-to-Energy Plant; plus, settlement reached in Priest River high school football concussion lawsuit
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • More »

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
Ghost Stories: An Interactive Theatre Experience

Ghost Stories: An Interactive Theatre Experience @ Spokane Community College

Oct. 29-30, 7:30-9:30 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

Most Commented On

  • Defending North Idaho

    Why Heather Scott must go
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • The Do-Over

    After failing to pass a bus service tax hike last year, Spokane Transit Authority has a plan to get you to vote for it again
    • Oct 6, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

election 2016


green zone


trail mix

Readers also liked…

  • The Price of Progress
  • The Price of Progress

    Why the Spokane Tribe says it's still owed for Grand Coulee Dam
    • Apr 1, 2015
  • New Blood
  • New Blood

    Candidates are launching bids for Spokane City Council and could bring big changes to city government
    • Mar 18, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation