Still, it's a good bet Mayor Dennis Hession is going to make it through to the Nov. 6 general election. He has raised $131,332 in donations as of a Tuesday check of the Public Disclosure Commission's online campaign contribution forms. You can add all the other candidate totals together and they only come two-thirds of the way to Hession's total. Plus, Hession has 675 donors, more than double everybody else in the race, and his PDC forms read like a who's who of Spokane's power elite (with some funny surprises, see below).
And we will further assume that Robert Kroboth will find that campaigning in a cone of silence does nothing to get him elected, and that Mike Noder doesn't have the organization behind him to get over the steep learning curve.
So the second spot in the general comes down to either Councilmember Mary Verner or Councilmember Al French. And this is interesting: They are nearly equal in fund-raising with $43,234 to French, $38,301 to Verner.
French has the biggest single donation of any candidate with the $5,000 from Local 29, the firefighters union. Union president Greg Borg says the firefighters are ready to kick in more and recently went doorbelling for French on the Moran Prairie, distributing 7,000 brochures.
But it's striking that French has only 78 donors (developers and real estate firms, largely) to his campaign, and last week loaned himself $7,500 to become his own biggest contributor. Is this a sign of trouble?
Verner's funding base is built upon family friends in Georgia and area Indian tribes, which don't supply a lot of votes. Still, with 268 donors -- ranging from Robert Goldstein's one dollar to Harless Aviation's $3,000 -- she appears more grass-roots than French. And she's spent nearly $10,000 on billboards.
Hession has spent $14,500 on two political consultants. French has spent $12,000 with Portland's high-powered Gard and Gerber Consulting, the firm that tried to salvage former Oregon Governor Neil Goldschmidt's reputation when he was exposed in a sex scandal.
Verner has spent nothing on consultants. "We use our doorbelling as surrogate consulting ... as I or our volunteers talk to people I get sense of what direction people are taking. We're trying to keep my campaign low-cost and grass-roots," she says.
Discouraging our budding Rembrandts
It's not that Mary Verner dislikes paintings. Perhaps she has a few hanging on her living room walls, maybe even a coveted Elvis on black velvet. But the councilwoman is not a fan of spray painted gang messages on brick... or abandoned houses... or any surface owned by someone who did not grant the rights to paint.
"Neighborhood character deteriorates as properties are 'tagged' into blight," Verner writes in a letter to the editor. "Property damage estimates from graffiti approached $70,000 for the first five months of 2007."
Last week Verner, police department representatives and others met at the West Central Community Center to talk about how to take the Krylon out of crime. They vowed to continue to cover graffiti messages with a good whitewashing and expressed the need for more volunteers to take up pails. Among other things, they vetted the councilwoman's proposal to ban the sale of spray paint to minors.
An account of the meeting in the daily paper the next morning was topped with the headline, "Verner wants to ban kids from having spray paint." Foul, cried the councilwoman. Her draft ordinance is only an idea, she says, a small part of the community response needed to stop the taggers. Verner was especially upset by a later column that criticized the proposed spray paint ordinance and which was accompanied by "a very unhelpful large photo of graffiti." Verner says police have told her those photos just encourage the taggers.
"Has the S-R forgotten the Our Children-Our Business campaign that you championed?" Verner writes. "There is a direct link between at-risk children and graffiti."
If you have "constructive suggestions," you can contact Verner at 625-6255 or email@example.com.
An en-TIRE U.S. Grant!?
No kidding, NBA all-time assists leader (1,164 season/12,713 career) John Stockton is the biggest name to toss $50 into the Hession campaign. Easy, Johnny Spokane, we'd hate to see you wind up broke like some other intemperate former pro athletes.??