When asked, "What are the biggest myths about you?" Mayor Dennis Hession pauses a few seconds before answering.

Then he says, "That I can't make a decision. That I'm a suit -- aloof, rigid," Hession answers. And then, with a smile: "I do have a sense of humor. I like dogs and babies. I do have a lighthearted side to my personality."

And he does think he's been a good fit in Spokane's strong mayor system. Hession believes he has exercised leadership in the way a strong mayor should: "I am a decision-maker. I like it. I'm good at it." Hession says that under his leadership, the city has become more disciplined fiscally and is making progress in reversing the annual budget gap that usually leans closer to red ink than to black. He also points to the controversial firings of former Deputy Mayor Jack Lynch and Community Development Director Mike Adolfae as tough but correct decisions. On the other hand, the process of developing a police oversight system has bogged down and Hession has angered neighborhood leaders with his suggested changes for the way federal Community Development Block Grant money is distributed.

Indeed, the Aug. 21 primary and the Nov. 6 general elections are referenda on Dennis Hession's performance, but they may also be indirect measurements of Spokane's almost 7-year-old strong mayor system of government. How well is it working? It's not a question of wanting to purge the system -- voters have already rejected one attempt to do that, and none of the candidates advocate it. But for some, something just isn't right. "We're still finding our way," is how mayoral candidate and City Councilwoman Mary Verner puts it.

There's enough of a strong mayor track record that people can compare Hession with his two predecessors, the way he makes decisions, organizes City Hall and relates to the City Council, the second (legislative) branch of municipal government.

The first strong mayor, John Powers, had a grand, if not shared, vision, and he concentrated power among a small group of advisers. Council relations were frosty.

The second mayor, Jim West, made City Hall a more entrepreneurial place, gave more authority to employees and worked more collaboratively with the council. Hession is more like Powers in his management style, but more like West with his conservative fiscal approach. Many consider West the most effective of the three, but he was undone by his personal peccadilloes.

"We're still learning the profile we need for an effective mayor," says mayoral candidate and City Councilman Al French.

& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & P & lt;/span & erhaps, but maybe the more important (and still unresolved) question is: What is the council's role in a strong mayor system? "The council needs to be the backstop. The mayor should not be without accountability," says mayoral candidate Mike Noder. "But the part-time council is routinely way behind, uninformed and derelict in overseeing what the mayor is doing."

Council members have long complained about their place in the strong mayor system, starting with the disparity in staff between their office and the mayor's. Hession, they say, can turn to a chief operating officer, chief financial officer and department heads for information, while they have one secretary and one part-time analyst to help them sift through the mountains of information they have to digest. Some members say that they feel the disparity reflects an attitude by the mayor that he's the king and they're his subjects.

"It seems like from Day One [the day in December 2005 when then-Council President Hession was chosen by his peers to become mayor after the recall of Jim West] that everything changed," says French. Some council members say that Hession forgot about his council roots -- an assertion that Hession disputes. French and his council colleagues have frequently complained that it's difficult to get information from the mayor's office. "In many cases, I find myself learning about what he's doing by reading the newspaper or watching the news," French says.

Hession downplays the criticism. He says his office shares information when it's appropriate and that council members have access to city employees. On that, council members like Mary Verner agree: They can and should go out and do their own homework, she says. But should the council have its own policy staff? "We can't afford separate staffs," says Hession.

Perhaps the answer is in changing the system to make council positions full-time, an idea that's been raised before but shot down because of the cost and because of the belief that city council members should be "citizen-legislators" who spend more time in the community than at City Hall.

Hession believes the strong mayor system is working well. "There may be friction [between the council and the mayor's office]," he concedes, "but it's a healthy friction. It's not adversarial. There are healthy checks and balances."

Setting aside systemic questions, Hession's opponents -- who want his job and $140,000 salary -- believe the real problem is with the guy in office.

Where Hession sees himself as a "decision-maker," Al French sees someone whose process of working issues is frustratingly slow.

"The mayor looks at things with the eyes of an attorney," says French. "He's always looking at risk-aversion and the possibility of litigation. I believe the people want a mayor who's bold, who assesses the risk and then moves forward."

Hession's opponents say they also want someone who is a better communicator with the council and with his constituents,

particularly when he makes changes.

"The mayor should work with all the stakeholders on an issue, not just his close confidants," says Verner. "I think that's something on which the mayor is vulnerable."

"I was talking to a lady on North Maple the other day," recalls French. "She was telling me that the city sent her a notice that it's planning to move her garbage pickup from her alley to her front yard. But in her front yard, there's an 8-foot slope down to the curb. She doesn't get around very well. She was so distraught that she broke down and cried as she told me about this." Why didn't the city go and talk with this woman before making its decision? French wonders. "This is not a dictatorship," he says.

A fifth candidate, Robert Kroboth, is on the ballot but refuses to speak with The Inlander and other media. (Doug Nadvornick)




Mayor-wannabe Al French is clearly not pleased with some of the "accomplishments" Mayor Dennis Hession is claiming. "He says he has led the city back to a surplus budget," the councilman says, "but the increase in sales tax revenue that's partially responsible for that started before he started as mayor." And, continues French, "there are 144 vacancies at City Hall. He's lowering the level of service to our citizens in order to balance the budget."

While the mayor proposes not to renew a temporary property tax increase, French says he's not sure he's ready to make that decision. "We [the council] haven't seen any dollar amounts in next year's budget yet. I'm still trying to get their [the administration's] budget information, and I want to talk to the police and fire chiefs to see what they need for staffing."


If Dennis Hession were to hold one title (other than Mayor of Spokane), he'd choose "Champion of the Taxpayer." The mayor takes credit for stabilizing Spokane's budget situation. "The surging and retreating of the past has been so destructive," Hession says. Some say the current budget is riding one of those surges, fuled by construction and permit-related tax money.

The trick, according to Hession, has been to decide what services the city should be providing and to decide how many people the city needs to provide those services. "We've had 65 or 70 requests to add people, and we've only hired a few," he says. "We only spend if it doesn't embed new costs, primarily in employee benefits. We don't know what the future holds."

Hession's administration has adopted the phrase "structural gap" in trying to explain the city's ongoing budget troubles. The city's revenue growth rate is 3 percent, while its expenditure growth rate is 5 percent, he says. It doesn't take a CPA to realize that such a gap isn't healthy.

For now, Hession says the city is implementing some of the recommendations of the recent Matrix city-efficiency study. At least one involves asking employees to pick up more of their and their families' benefits costs. If he's re-elected and can accomplish that, Hession's new title might be "Miracle Worker."


If there's one thing Mike Noder knows, it's numbers. He's the numbers guy in his family business and he's proud of his fluency with contracts and insurance.

While his city budget knowledge is confined mostly to the Solid Waste Department, Noder believes he has the talent to slay the troubling budgetary trends. "The city needs to adopt some of the same principles as the private sector," he says. That means adopting long-term budget forecasting, perhaps as far out as 40 or 50 years. He says the city should eliminate the waste in the Solid Waste Department budget and save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. And he thinks the city should get rid of under-performing employees.

As for the Matrix study, Noder sees red flags. "Why did we hire consultants to do what our city employees could do?" he asks.

Noder agrees with the mayor that the city should not renew the temporary increase in property taxes. He'd also like to reduce or eliminate the city utility tax.


For those who believe the city of Spokane has a huge out-of-control budget, City Councilwoman Mary Verner begs to differ. "We have one of the smallest general funds, per capita, in the state," she offers. "Government here is a good deal. We just need to educate the people about that." She believes the city needs to be smarter when it comes to riding the region's economic cycles, banking money when times are good so that it can cushion the bumpy spots when times are bad.

Verner is not a fan of the Matrix study, thinking the $260,000 the city paid was not well spent. If she's elected, "we'll empty the buckets," she says, referring to the "bucketing" exercise city officials employed to sort the Matrix recommendations. "I had different expectations. I thought we'd hear about what other cities are doing," she says. Instead, she says, it was a run-of-the-mill efficiency study.

If elected, Verner says she would work harder to share budget information with the council, rather than withholding it, as she believes the current mayor is doing.

-- Doug Nadvornick





If you walk around Spokane with a sign that says "Real Leadership," you invite the sort of encounter where a guy in a car with a busted-out window screeches to a stop where you are campaigning and starts finger-jabbing you with "this is the fourth time this year" his window's been busted and his stereo's been lifted and he doesn't even tell the cops any more because they don't do anything and so what are you going to do about it, huh, Mr. Al French?

The police department already has 11 positions unfilled and the Matrix Study -- which for $260,000 told the city where it could save money -- suggests Spokane can lay off 11 more officers because of "the dramatic reduction in property crime." (Here French says he is quoting Matrix author Richard Brady.) But as French's sidewalk encounter shows, crime isn't down -- what's happening is that people fed up with not getting a response report crimes less often.

Instead of deploying patrol officers nearly evenly between north and south of the river, French suggests putting more on the north side, where two-thirds of city residents live, and where there is more reported crime.

The fire department, with equally deep cuts in recent budget-crisis years, can generate some revenue by participating in a state program that pays for use of crews and apparatus on wildfires. Department sources say, however, that after salaries and equipment repair, there's little money available. They add that legislators in Olympia may become cross if it appears Spokane is trying to snag a little more money out of the state's pocket.


"I don't know if there is any way to restore that kind of policing in this day and age," Hession says of an era when minor property crimes were investigated.

He says that Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick gives him an affirmative answer when he asks if Spokane is safe. Hession notes that budget discussions are underway about adding more police and about how best to deploy existing resources.

The mayor has called for ending the levy lid lift -- voters decided in 2005 to increase their tax burden to help with shortfalls -- but his opponents jump all over him, saying that Hession is playing politics with this year's surplus.

While Hession says he supports funding to restore Crime Check ("people need to feel like the police are listening to them"), he notes that police and fire spending can't keep increasing and that they already constitute more than half of general fund expenditures.


"Filling prisons is not solving the problem," Noder says. He suggests a rethinking of traditional policing to get ahead of issues such as the relation between drug use and property crime with some decriminalization, escalating fines and diversion programs such as drug court.

"The way we deliver fire protection and the way we deliver police services has to evolve," he says.

Noder supports a tax to fund Crime Check.


"It's too narrow-minded to think about solving our law-enforcement problems just by hiring more police," says Verner. She suggests an interdisciplinary approach that integrates policing with code enforcers, social service agencies, schools, workforce interests and others.

Next week, she is starting an effort to control juveniles' access to spray paint, calling it a potentially low-cost way to reduce tagging and huffing.

The old police model isn't going to work without adequate resources, she says. Verner criticizes Hession for not allowing the council access to discussion with police and fire chiefs about their budget needs. "We need additional firefighters and we need additional police officers," she says. "It shouldn't be politicized. This is taxpayer money used to meet taxpayer needs."

-- Kevin Taylor





"Comp plan, comp plan, comp plan." That's Al French's mantra when it comes to development. The 56-year-old architect says the city's sprawling 20-year comprehensive plan, adopted in 2001 is a near-perfect road map for the city's future -- including its position on bike lanes, urban forests and traffic calming. The only problem is that it's already been forgotten. "It's time we had a mayor who will champion that document," he says. French also authored a list of 28 development incentives in 1999 (common SEPA applications, fee-waivers for low-income housing developers, etc.) -- only a third of which have been adopted, he says.

He's got a couple more, too, like turning the old Playfair site -- at the junction of I-90 and the future North-South Freeway -- into a regional distribution center. "Dennis wants that for an animal shelter, for single businesses," he says. "He wants to grow a business -- I want to grow an industry."


In 18 months in office, Hession has presided over a boom in downtown development, including the groundbreaking of the 77-acre Kendall Yards project. It's a trend he hopes to encourage with the creation of the Mayor's Urban Design Awards program, recognizing design that's consistent with the city's comprehensive plan. It doesn't do much, however, for his reputation (among some) for bending the rules for developers. Hession also presides over the current crisis in low-income housing, a phenomenon that he admits his administration didn't see coming. Asked whether it's the job of government to provide housing, he replies, "I think so. But in a smart way." He points out that the social cost of leaving the mentally, physically and financially disabled on the streets could be staggering. "One guy tied up 25 police officers and several fire trucks on Monroe Street last week," he says of the man who threatened to jump from a three-story hardware store.

Still, he says, "These are the consequences of a growing economy. That's the good news."


Number-crunching Noder is focused on saving money at the city's solid waste system first. "The private sector would have no problem sucking a billion dollars out of this," he says. Those savings, he believes, could fix the city's structural budget gap (it consistently spends more money than it makes), which would allow it to bring down its utilities tax to the bottom 10 percent in the nation, which would draw businesses and intellectual capital and help stoke a vibrant economy. But it begins, he says, with bridging that gap in the budget.

Noder is hands-off when it comes to public-private partnership in development, saying that "it degrades our brand" and opining that tax-increment financing for Kendall Yards was a total waste of public money. "That's prime property," he says. "You don't buy that and say, 'We're not going to build it.'"

Rather, he says, the city should spend its money on the poor. "Whatever the [River Park Square] mall got, whatever Kendall Yards got, I'm giving low-income housing," he says. "Why do the wealthy deserve handouts any more?"

However, his gift comes with a few strings attached, like limiting former slum residents' civil liberties (blood tests, fingerprints, a possible 10 pm curfew) if they don't make something of themselves with the city's money. "We give them something, they give something back," says Noder.


Verner dismisses the notion that her green streak makes her anti-development. She says she just wants to see sustainable development that will contribute to community prosperity: "In the long term, businesses have that at stake." She thinks that most businesses in Spokane today understand such long-term perspectives.

In fact, Verner has a plan that's both green and pro-business. She'd like to bring to Spokane the environmental remediation industry. That means brownfields clean-up, water quality testing and conservation, new directions in energy production. She says it's a "much-needed new sector" that would fit hand-in-hand with the city's burgeoning biotech industry and could attract businesses that excite young people.

-- Joel Smith



WEIGHT CLASS * Heavyweight ("Even after losing 30 pounds")

TRAINING * Hard to say if this is actually a valuable skill set for a mayor, but, says French, "I am a trained killer." (He served in the Marine Corps as well as graduating from Spokane's Citizens Police Academy and a firefighter program.) He's a Texas-born, Idaho-educated architect who has spent much of his adult life working with mall properties. French has had his own firm since 2000 and is currently, with six years' experience, the dean of the City Council.

FAMOUS BATTLES * They are legion, he says. He is most proud of championing an ethics ordinance and seeing the completion of the new convention center. He was so concerned about the new building being "ship-shape" that late one night, he lifted it into the nearby Spokane River, paddled it to the Columbia and then set it back in place -- all before sunrise.

MYTHS & amp; LEGENDS * Some say -- and French denies all of it - that he screwed his partners over money and polluted the Spokane River. Regarding the first rumor, French says he sold his interest in an Omak shopping center five years before his former partners filed bankruptcy. On the second, he did apply for permits to dredge a boat slip for a client's riverfront house near Post Falls -- but other parties fired up the earth movers before the permits were issued. "This has been resolved to the state's satisfaction," an Idaho Department of Lands staffer told The Inlander.

STRONGEST EVENTS * French has detailed plans for addressing just about any problem you might toss at him. Six years on the council and 13 dealing with neighborhood issues leaves French well-grounded about what might work, what likely won't and what hasn't been tried.

ACHILLES HEEL * "I am impatient ... I don't like to see opportunities squandered," French says. "I'm an architect -- I like to see something happening. In my private practice, I don't make any money if nothing happens." His stump speech to make Spokane business-friendly, attract new industry, give developers the tools they need to grow an economy... we've heard all this before out of many other mouths. Unlike private business, running a municipality may take patience. It will certainly try patience.

BREED STOCK * Married with one daughter.

GATORADE, POWERADE OR WATER? * Powerade. ("Because this is a political question.")

ACTUAL STRONG-MAN HE RESEMBLES MOST * Louis Cyr. The Canadian strongman, born in 1863, earned a statue of himself in Montreal for his service as a police officer there. French has enormous backing from people in public safety. However, unlike Cyr -- who once pushed a freight car uphill -- French was vilified last year for not pushing light rail hard enough, possibly aiding in its demise at the ballot box in November.

-- Compiled by Kevin Taylor and Joel Smith



WEIGHT CLASS * Super middleweight

TRAINING * One of two attorneys in the sideshow, Hession spent 22 years practicing commercial and tax law in Spokane before winning a spot on the City Council in 2002, taking the council president title in 2004 and inheriting the mayor's throne in 2006. In 18 months on the job, he's grappled with low-income housing, police scandals and a fickle budget. His latest campaign involves a controversial (but voter-promised) city efficiency study.

FAMOUS BATTLES * At least one Corbin Park resident has called on Hession to resign over the city's decision to pick up the neighborhood's trash in front of houses, rather than in back alleys. Before that, Hession pitted himself against his former South Hill constituents, recommending that trees on Bernard Street be cut down during road work there. He won. He also fought the City Council over appointment of a new solid waste director -- the one who's now executing the Corbin Park trash plan -- and appears to have won (for now) in a bid to annex tax-rich county property on the north side.

MYTHS & amp; LEGENDS * Reports surfaced late last year that Hession encountered a lost moose calf on one of his daily runs and, with the help of a special task force, actually studied it to death. Utter fabrication. Hession says if there's one thing people get wrong, it's that he's not decisive. "Come sit in my office someday," he says, also mentioning that he loves dogs and babies.

STRONGEST EVENTS * Hession's current hold on Spokane's strong mayor title should work in his favor, especially with the budget (temporarily) looking rosy after years of deficits. He'll likely use this to prove the effectiveness of his measured, calm way of running the city. He'll also point to the hiring of police chief Anne Kirkpatrick to evince his commitment to public safety. While a little short on flash (he showed up at Inlander HQ in a grey suit with a black and white tie), he's an earnest speaker with a knack for explaining things simply.

ACHILLES HEEL * In May -- and despite having hired Kirkpatrick -- Hession received a no-confidence vote from police guild members, who claimed that his administration was causing "a constant increase of violence in this community." He may play that down, but it doesn't look good to voters already nervous about meth, gangs and rising property crime; his opponents will take aim. Neighborhood activists will also make a lot of noise about Bernard Street, Corbin Park and the firing of Community Devolpment Director Mike Adolfae, possibly denting Hession's self-image as a "people's mayor."

BREED STOCK * Wife, Jane. Four children.


ACTUAL STRONG-MAN HE RESEMBLES MOST * A cross between the Great Antonio and Eugen Sandow, the father of modern body-building. The former achieved fame by uprooting trees with a cable tied around his neck. The latter theorized the ideal male body, then built his own to its exact specifications -- reminiscent of Hession's rule-by-numbers, Matrix-driven administration?

-- Compiled by Joel Smith



WEIGHT CLASS * Middleweight

TRAINING * Though a relative unknown, Noder has the most impressive strongman credentials of all our competitors. No, really: Who else knocks buildings down for a living? The co-owner of Spokane Valley's MoMike Demolition since 1991 -- they do nearly 90 percent of their business outside the Spokane area, he says -- Noder has been a member of the Spokane County Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC) since 2005. Though Noder doesn't have a college degree, he did attend college in Spokane, taking a ton of non-credit courses for less-than-full-priced tuition. "I'm actually proud of this fact," he says.

FAMOUS BATTLES * For years, Noder and fellow members of Spokane DENSA (a fictional parody group of MENSA) have fought for better operations and budget-keeping of the Spokane Solid Waste System, which includes the incinerator. "We've filed a lot of FOIAs [Freedom of Information Act requests], read a lot of documents and found a lot of unenforced and mis-enforced contracts and millions of misspent dollars," he says. Though often dismissed as crackpots, the group and its findings are gaining more traction among members of the SWAC and the county commissioners.

MYTHS & amp; LEGENDS * Noder is actually a risk-taking police officer who was cryogenically frozen in 1970 and has reawakened to face Dennis Hession, in reality an evil crime lord frozen at the same time. Or is that the plot to a Sylvester Stallone film?

STRONGEST EVENTS * Noder claims to excel at crunching numbers -- especially wasteful spending -- down to a fine dust. He is more detailed than any other candidate when it comes to talking about the budget, even if he can be hard to follow. He counts as strengths "a deep understanding of risk and how to manage it. Fearless loyalty to my community. Commitment to understanding, even though acting on incomplete information is often required of leaders."

ACHILLES HEEL * Like "The Mighty Frederick," Noder is the strongman nobody's heard of. With less money, connection and promotion than the other candidates, his will be an uphill battle. Also, his views on displaced low-income residents downtown won't garner him too many nice-guy votes.

BREED STOCK * Single, no children.


ACTUAL STRONG-MAN HE RESEMBLES MOST * Charles Atlas, the "97-pound weakling" who became one of the world's most celebrated strongmen. Like Atlas, Noder hopes that bulking up on policy and reputation can help him beat back the bullies who have kicked sand in his face.

-- Compiled by Doug Nadvornick and Joel Smith


WEIGHT CLASS * Super featherweight

TRAINING * Verner is the other attorney in the competition, but she's also toiled in government and public policy positions for 20 years -- as environmental programs manager for the U.S. Virgin Islands, as director of the Upper Columbia United Tribes and as council member for the South Hill's district. (She was appointed to that seat in 2004, and then, the following year, won it in a vote.)

FAMOUS BATTLES * Verner squared off against the 77-acre, beaucoup-billion-dollar Kendall Yards project last year. She refused to vote on public financing of the development until a neighborhood advisory board was created and insisted that the developer comply with federal wage laws. She also supported citizen activist Shannon Sullivan in the latter's successful bout against Mayor Jim West. She lost a constituent-backed battle in 2004 to add fluoridation to Spokane's water when the council unanimously -- and permanently -- tabled the motion.

MYTHS & amp; LEGENDS * The old story that green-minded Verner once faced down a developer's bulldozer -- lifting it high above her head before casting into Latah Valley -- is pure myth. "There's a perception I'm against developers," she says. "That isn't true. I [just] think development needs to be balanced ... with environmental protection."

STRONGEST EVENTS * Verner is a charming female attorney from the South Hill, with strong ties to the environment and Indian affairs. Greenies, Indians and women will probably flock to her (though she may split the South Hill elite's vote with Hession). Her superpower is extrasensory hearing. One of the most inclusive and patient members of the council, she's known for taking her constituents seriously, boning up on the issue and coming to the table with an opinion.

ACHILLES HEEL * Verner is a charming female attorney from the South Hill, with strong ties to the environment and Indian affairs. That might not fly with conservatives, developers, misogynists, Bubba and people who love lawyer jokes. (What do you call 5,000 dead lawyers at the bottom of the sea?). Also, Verner's tendency to burrow into the issues can leave her overcommitted -- a problem she thinks will go away with a mayoral staff of her own. "I have no problem delegating," she says.

BREED STOCK * Single grandmother of two and mother of two who lives with her son.

GATORADE, POWERADE OR WATER? * Propel fitness water. (Technically, Gatorade.)

ACTUAL STRONG-MAN HE RESEMBLES MOST * A cross between Charmion -- a trapeze artist and strongwoman known for her charm and good looks -- and Katie Sandwina, the 19th-century Austrian behemoth who made her name lifting a 300-pound weight the great Eugen Sandow could only heave to his chest.

-- Compiled by Doug Nadvornick and Joel Smith


Candidates for mayor answer the questions of The Inlander's On the Street crew:

AL FRENCH (via telephone)

Will you fire Bobby Williams?

"What I will be doing when elected is reviewing all the positions still left after this administration and restructuring the team in order to move forward."

So that's a couched 'Yes'?

"No! It's also a couched 'No.'"

What book would you have us read?

"The Bible."

Business interests vs. regular guy: What tips your decisions?

"I started my civic activism and career at the neighborhood level, and I have not abandoned that. It is still a big part of where I get my information."

Privately-run pools?

"Certainly there is nothing to prevent a private vendor to come in and offer an aquatics facility.... The challenge is they require memberships or dues, and you may lose lower-income levels."

Balancing rich and poor in gentrifying neighborhoods?

"There's a whole list of things: In some cases, integration of income levels. In some cases, waiver of fees or consolidation of permit requirements to lower the cost to construct low-income housing. More aggressive programs so the city can seek grant money to subsidize low-income housing."

DENNIS HESSION (via e-mail)

What book would you have us read?

"Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree."

Business interests vs. regular guy: What tips your decisions?

"I work with the businesses to make certain that we have a 'win-win,' where business is able to grow and Spokane citizens benefit at the same time. The key for me is to keep the process open and transparent, with no backroom deals or hidden agendas. You might disagree with what I've done, but I'll always let you know every detail of our plans."

Privately-run pools?

"Absolutely, as long as the public interest is protected and there is a fair return to the taxpayers who are the true owners of city resources."

Balancing rich and poor in gentrifying neighborhoods?

"Our development community responds well to incentives, and we are finding ways to incentivize them to develop a range of housing options. It is this government's role to drive economic development to generate the resources necessary to care for all of our needs, including reasonable housing alternatives and supportive services."

MIKE NODER (via e-mail)

What book would you have us read?

"I would hate to limit Spokane readers to one book, but Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville is great for describing the promise and opportunity of 'regular people' in our great nation."

Business interests vs. regular guy: What tips your decisions?

"I listen to businesses to stay abreast of continually improving means and methods for delivering utilities and other services that both business and 'regular people' depend on. I listen to 'regular people' to understand the impacts on individual lives and their place in our community, particularly when impacted by the quality or cost of a city service."

Privately-run pools?

"Yes. Private or public is not as important as which party brings the best price and performance value to the citizen-taxpayer."

Balancing rich and poor in gentrifying neighborhoods?

"I do not think gentrification itself requires the involvement of government. We want markets, including real estate, to evolve and improve over time. Housing stocks will become old and inadequate and the private sector will renew this stock more effectively than generally will occur by government mandate."

MARY VERNER (in person)

What book would you have us read?

"Just one? Probably ... How about ... Darn! ... Just one? OK. I'll go with a classic, The Prophet by Khalil Gibran."

Business interests vs. regular guy: What tips your decisions?

"Most business people are regular people. I hear this question quite often, and I believe it is my role to break that sense of us-versus-them."

Privately-run pools?

"Go with a contractor? We probably should. I think the facilities should remain public, however, so we can maintain public access."

Balancing rich and poor in gentrifying neighborhoods?

"By developing a strategy that encompasses your economic development plan. Definitely you want mixed incomes and mixed use. It would be a real mistake to isolate an economic segment."

-- Compiled by Kevin Taylor




Saturday, July 28, at 4:30 pm

Rebroadcast of League of Women Voters Candidate Forum, City Channel 5 (Repeated on Aug. 2 at 6 pm., Aug. 5 at noon, Aug. 9 at 8:30 pm, and Aug. 16 at 8:30 pm)

Tuesday, July 31, at 4:30 pm

Odyssey Youth Candidate Forum, 1121 S. Perry St.

Saturday, Aug. 4, at 10 am

Hillyard Hi-Jinks Parade

Thursday, Aug. 9, at 7 pm

Northeast Community Center Association, 4001 N. Cook St.

Saturday, Aug. 18, at 10 am

Unity in the Community, Riverfront Park

For more information, visit candidate Web sites: alfrench.com, hessionformayor.com, mikeforspokane.com and maryverner.com.


Don't forget: The primary election (when the field is trimmed to two) is early this year. Ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, Aug. 21. Watch your mailbox, as they will be mailed starting Aug. 1.

Discover Your Career In Construction @ Worksource Spokane

Mon., Feb. 6, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and Mon., Feb. 13, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
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About The Authors

Joel Smith

Joel Smith is the media editor for The Inlander. In that position, he manages and directs Inlander.com and edits all copy for the website, the newspaper and all other special publications. A former staff writer, he has reported on local and state politics, the environment, urban development and culture, Spokane's...

Kevin Taylor

Kevin Taylor is a staff writer for The Inlander. He has covered politics, the environment, police and the tribes, among many other things.