by Pia K. Hansen

World AIDS Day -- SPOKANE -- Saturday, Dec. 1, is World AIDS Day, and local activists from Planned Parenthood, the Spokane AIDS Network and other groups are inviting the public to an afternoon observance. Janine Ballou, case manager at the Spokane AIDS Network, says activists will gather at the Spokane Transit Plaza at 701 W. Riverside starting at 3 pm, when several pianists and violinists will play. At 5:30, several speakers will take the podium, including an HIV-positive man and Lynn Everson, a longtime activist for the disenfranchised. After those activities will come a candle lighting and vigil.

"The candles represent the lives lost," says Ballou. "We're doing an observance and memorial to the lives that have been lost to AIDS since the epidemic began 20 years ago."

Organizers will hand out free candles to those attending the demonstration, which will include (weather permitting) a walk around the transit plaza block. The plaza was chosen as a place where the observance will draw public attention, says Ballou.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that perhaps 800,000 Americans live with HIV and AIDS. Globally, the United Nations believes that 36 million people have the disease today.

Close elections settled -- SPOKANE -- It could have been a closer race, but not by much. Of the 16,270 votes cast for the Spokane District Two city council seat in November's election, Dennis Hession won by a margin of just 50.

That was the certified result, according to the county's elections officers. (A state-mandated machine recount, held Tuesday evening after the Inlander went to press, was not expected to change the outcome.)

Hession beat Dean Lynch, the sitting councilman, 8,160 votes to 8,110. District Two mainly covers Spokane's South Hill.

The two weeks of uncertainty were difficult, Hession says. And while the narrow margin means his mandate is less than overwhelming, Hession says it won't change the way he is approaching the job.

"I made a commitment to change the atmosphere in the council as best I could, and I will," he says. The Spokane council has serious public policy issues to address like poverty and economic development, but "I think there are some housekeeping things that need to be addressed first -- I mean, the way the council is treating each other and treating the mayor."

The Hession-Lynch race was not the only surprise. It looked like James Carlson had the mayor's race for Waverly (population 125) sewn up. He was the only person listed on the ballot for that town in Spokane County's southeast corner. But write-in candidate Bill Tensfeld won after elections officials counted the ballots -- all 46 of them. Tensfeld won 25 to 21.

"I was drafted," says Tensfeld, 64, who retired from driving truck and working at the local fertilizer plant. "If that's what they want, I'll do it."

Tensfeld is fire chief for the local fire district, and he and Carlson respond to fires and accidents together. Tensfeld says that as mayor he'll pursue the town's major projects already underway, including the rebuilding of Main Street.

"It'll stay the same," he says, "just new faces."

Northwest Winterfest @ Spokane County Fair & Expo Center

Fridays, 5-8 p.m., Saturdays, 4-8 p.m. and Sundays, 3-6 p.m. Continues through Jan. 1
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