by Ted S. McGregor Jr.

By now, we've all heard the candidates for mayor go on and on about the usual issues: potholes, River Park Square, jobs. For a change of pace -- and in hopes of getting a little better feel for who these guys really are -- we decided to spring a pop quiz on Jim West and Tom Grant. The candidates came into our offices, and they took part of the test in written form, and part verbally, which we taped and transcribed here. They were both good sports for doing it -- after all, with some of the questions, the risk of embarrasment is real. But we don't intend this as some kind of exercise in gotcha journalism. Voters should read the whole package and use it to help them make a decision come Election Day. Now that we know how they answered the questions, the differences are still hard to find in some areas. Still, we hope it provides a deeper understanding -- perhaps a more human understanding -- of these two men who, as we say on the cover, want to marry our city.

Get to know them!

What's your favorite movie?

WEST: Patton, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Seabiscuit, Love Story

GRANT: Casablanca

Who is you favorite musician?

WEST: Paul McCartney

GRANT: Rilo Kiley (Jenny Lewis)

What year and make of car do you drive?

WEST: 1997 Ford Explorer

GRANT: 1993 Toyota pickup

What's your favorite specific location in Spokane?

WEST: Rimrock Drive

GRANT: My front porch (because I love my wife's garden)

What's your favorite place to eat?

WEST: Bob's Chicken 'n' More

GRANT: The Elk

What's the last local arts event you attended?

WEST: Rally in the Alley; American Masters at the MAC

GRANT: Our Rock the Vote concert featuring Burns Like Hellfire, 10 Minutes Down, Gorilla & amp; Rabbit and others

What's the farthest away from Spokane you've ever traveled?

WEST: Nishinomiya, Japan; London

GRANT: Luxembourg, to run a marathon

Do you believe global warming is real?


GRANT: Yes, the scientists tell me it is.

Does violence in TV, movies or videogames make people more violent?

WEST: It has an impact.

GRANT: No, [but] in specialized situations, in certain situations, it might, but my own personal experience tells me that watching violent TV shows does not make people violent. There has to be something else going on.

Should marijuana be decriminalized?



If you lived in California, would you have voted for or against the recall of the governor?

WEST: I would have voted for the recall.

GRANT: I would have voted against the recall.

What has the government, at any level, done that you have seriously disagreed with?

WEST: I guess I'll just go with the easy one. The governor's unilateral implementation of the ergonomics rules.

GRANT: I opposed the Vietnam War -- they sent us into war in a case that I thought was inappropriate. Then we got lied to by people in office, from Nixon to Clinton, and that's been tremendously disappointing for me.

Do you think the recent spate of ballot initiatives has been good or bad for Washington state?

WEST: I don't think it's hurt Washington state. I think it's actually constructive to have the escape valve of the citizens. I don't agree with every initiative that's passed and probably would have hoped that a couple had failed. It actually helps the dialogue. As a legislator, I know it makes you look over your shoulder a little bit more. And if we're really truly a representative democracy, then we should perhaps be looking over our shoulder more.

GRANT: Initiatives have an important role in the way we govern ourselves. However, there comes a time when it seems like they have been counterproductive to our ability to run our state. I'm hoping that people will be more thoughtful as they take a look at these ballot initiatives in the future.

Steve Eugster: Good or bad for Spokane?

WEST: I don't think he's either. He's smarter than people give him credit for. He's challenged some old ways of doing business, which is not a bad thing. He's done it in a fashion that, a lot of times, has offended a lot of people, which is a bad thing. It's almost like political cartooning, the purpose of which is to get people talking, not necessarily to get people to agree with you. He's certainly done that, and he's certainly energized the debates. He probably shouldn't have been a city councilman. I'm sure there are a lot of people who would like to buy him a bus ticket out of town, who want Spokane to be as it always was. But there are other forces that would cause the same discussion.

GRANT: Steve's a very bright guy, one of the smartest guys in town. He has done many good things for this city, and yet I think that he's been ineffective as a legislator. So he's been good for Spokane in some of the things that he's done, like get the Nordstrom lease released, which was the thing that unlocked our knowledge of River Park Square. Yet in balance he's also done a bunch of things that make people distrust government. I wouldn't want to have a city that didn't have somebody like Steve, and I think he'll continue to be effective on the outside of government.

Essay Questions

Tell us something voters probably don't know about you.

GRANT: Geez, I've told them everything. I've been on the campaign trail for six months now. The reason I went to WSU was because they offered me a wrestling scholarship. So I turned down academic scholarships at Whitman and also a chance to be an athlete at Eastern in order to go to WSU.

WEST: My life is such an open book. Everything I've done has been public. I owned a scuba store, and I love scuba diving. People know, I think, but maybe they don't, that I was a paratrooper in the Army. They know that I grew up here and my parents grew up here. My life is pretty much an open book.

What was your most successful moment as a leader of people?

GRANT: When you lead people, the successes are almost always, they belong to the other people. One of the things that I'm proudest of is the fact that while I was the editor of the Local Planet, the newspaper won four national awards, despite the fact that we had zero budget. Our freelancers were, the emphasis was on the "free." Of those four national awards we won, three of those involved writers who worked for free. I was able to get people who really cared about what they did to do excellent work out of the goodness of their heart.

WEST: One has been this legislative session as the Majority Leader. We were able to bring more than a simple majority together around the big issues of the day, and getting Republicans and Democrats together around those issues. In the past, it's always been real partisan. Not worrying about who comes from where, but actually how to deal with an issue is pretty impressive. Then being away from the extended session [due to his illness] and then coming back at the end and watching the people carrying on the techniques that I tried to impart to them is pretty special. A good leader is somebody who can not only lead for the moment, but can build people who can carry it on. It was a new dynamic. Somebody said that the difference between leading the parade and being run out of town is the attitude of the people behind you. And I think there's some of that in City Hall right now.

What's the best advice your parents ever gave you?

GRANT: My mom's a bookkeeper and my dad, who's deceased now, was a Boy Scout leader and a fly fisherman, so I have both of those kinds of characteristics. My mom's a bean counter, so she taught me how to make sure things add up. My dad was one of those guys who just loved helping people, and also believed in the outdoors, and those are things I took from him.

WEST: My dad at the dinner table, one time, I remember I was probably spouting off about something I learned in school, and I cited this statistic or fact or something. We got the Chronicle, so he'd read the paper at dinner. He worked the graveyard shift; he'd get up for dinner, have dinner with us, read the paper and go to work. So I was spouting off a fact, and he looked at me, and says, "Can you reference a source?" Basically, back up what you're saying. You can't just say something; you've got to have facts behind you. But you know I lived with another family my senior year of high school, and that was an incredible experience. And I remember the mom of the family, she was from Missouri, and she met her husband, who was from Spokane, during the war then moved back here with him. She'd tell me stories about working in a movie theater where "coloreds" had to go upstairs. She told me one time that you shouldn't ever pigeon hole people. That has stuck with me, too.

What's the last book on government and politics that you read, and what did you learn from it?

GRANT: I think it's called Better Not Bigger. It's on my nightstand. It's about how cities can worry about the quality of their growth more than the quantity of their growth as a way to understand where they're going in the future.

WEST: I just finished [former New York City Mayor Rudolph] Guiliani's book on leadership, and I learned how to run a city, an ungovernable city. He instituted, when he took over, morning meetings, every morning with all the department heads. He credits that with being able to send his ethic through the city. The CEO of the city really ought to have a pretty good handle on what's going on in the city. I'm not a big fan of having meetings just to have meetings, but there's something Guiliani's talking about in this book that struck home. We've got to keep up with these people; we've got to know what's going on in your city.

What city do you think Spokane should emulate and why?

GRANT: One should always take examples from multiple cities and look at the things they're doing good and try to incorporate those things into your own plan if they make sense. For me, as I look at it, the city that I look at for lessons is generally Portland. I remember it was in a terrible recession in the late '70s and early '80s and yet it stuck to its guns about planning and about growth management, about laying a foundation to the future and about serving the young, vital and creative people.

WEST: I don't think it can be just one, but I would put Boise of the past five years on the list. I would put Colorado Springs of the past five years on the list. I would put New York under Guiliani, Indianapolis under Goldsmith and I'd put Bellevue in the mid '80s on the list. Bellevue went from this sleepy little suburb to quite a nice metropolis and maintained its livability in the process. Boise because I just keep hearing about it, kind of like, "Hey, what's going on down there?" Indianapolis because Goldsmith did such innovative things. New York because Guiliani turned things around. Colorado Springs because it used to be smaller than Spokane and now it's bigger. High tech came to Colorado Springs and loved it. I was just there this past weekend, and I don't care for it that much. Their downtown's not near as nice as ours, but they do get high points for being a livable city.

Describe your first 90 days as mayor of Spokane.

GRANT: We're going to get a hell of a lot done. We have to move very fast when we get in as mayor. The internal auditor will be in place before those 90 days are over. We will be well on our way to having a new microlending program in town. We will have people working on reports about gigabit communication and about a medical school. I will be sitting down with the new members of city council. I will be out in the neighborhoods talking to people. If this campaign has been full of energy, those first 90 days have to be just as full of energy.

WEST: The 45 days before I become mayor will be primarily transition team, examining the structure of city government, working with people who I've invited or will invite from the community to be on the transition team, who will identify top candidates for each of those jobs and make recommendations back. Meet with all the city employees within the first month. Set up a regularly scheduled set of meetings with the department heads. I've envisioned breakfast meetings with different organizations in the community, maybe with the Chamber, the EDC, the CVB. Breakfast with the pastors in the community on a regular basis. Breakfast with the city unions on a regular basis. We'll discover the things the city is doing right and emphasize them and showcase them, and discover the things we're not doing so well at and replace them -- change them.

Which endorsements are you most proud of?

GRANT: The endorsements that I'm most proud of really are those 3,000 signatures we got on the petition to get my name on the ballot. We started our campaign from the bottom up, and that's the way I think everything should work in this city.

WEST: Police, fire -- because I'm usually thought of as being a Republican and they usually endorse Democrats. I think having their endorsement without making a single promise to them is a vote of confidence on their part. My only promise is, "I'll work with you."

Publication date: 10/23/03

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About The Author

Ted S. McGregor Jr.

Ted S. McGregor, Jr. grew up in Spokane and attended Gonzaga Prep high school and the University of the Washington. While studying for his Master's in journalism at the University of Missouri, he completed a professional project on starting a weekly newspaper in Spokane. In 1993, he turned that project into reality...