Wendle leading Beggs in tight race for Spokane council president race; plus, other council results

Cindy Wendle (left) and Breean Beggs
Cindy Wendle (left) and Breean Beggs

All results are preliminary: Spokane County released its early vote totals tonight. Tens of thousands of votes are yet to be counted.

Spokane City Council President

Breean Beggs: 48.75 %
Cindy Wendle: 50.83 %

While he was pretty decisively crushed in the August primary, City Councilman Breean Beggs was hopeful going into Tuesday night.

In fact, as he gathered with friends and fellow progressive politicos at O'Doherty's Irish Pub — including state Rep. Marcus Riccelli, environmental lawyer Rick Eichstaedt, and fellow Councilwoman Lori Kinnear — Beggs made a prediction.

"I'm thinking 53 percent or higher," he told the Inlander while drinking an Irish stout.

However, early voting results had him losing by a little less than 800 votes to political newcomer Cindy Wendle. The Northtown Square real estate asset manager ran a campaign focused on the current council's failure to sign a new police contract or establish a city-owned homeless shelter. Though Beggs has been known to lead the way on bridging gaps between council members and the administration at times, Wendle argued she'd be more successful than Beggs at bringing people together.

However, Beggs was undeterred. At his watch party he maintained his hope that he would win once all the votes are tallied.

"We're within 800 ballots with thousands and thousands to come," Beggs told the crowd. "We fully expect to have a 6-1 majority."

He later told the Inlander he was disappointed to see that City Council President Ben Stuckart had conceded in the race for mayor to Nadine Woodward.

"That's really disappointing," Beggs said. "I think the city is going to miss out."

Later, Councilwoman Lori Kinnear, who easily won her re-election, told the crowd that she's not worried the council will see too much of a change.

"No matter what happens, we still have a five vote veto-proof council," she said.

Spokane City Council

District 1:
Tim Benn: 43.78 %
Michael Cathcart: 52.86 %

In the race to replace long-term Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan, MICHAEL CATHCART, director of the pro-business organization Better Spokane, had a nine-point lead in early results against opponent TIM BENN, a northeast Spokane community activist and chair of the Minnehaha Neighborhood Council.

Cathcart, who was previously a legislative aide in the state Senate and a lobbyist for the Spokane Home Builders Association, had argued during the campaign that he had the experience, temperament and existing political relationships to pass policy that could benefit the district. He also criticized Benn, who has run for office numerous times and co-hosts a conservative talk radio show, as unfit for office.

On election night, with a lead, Cathcart was still cautious: "I'm not declaring victory tonight but I think the indication is is that it will be. We'll given it another day and see the numbers come in. But I'm really excited. I think our lead is solid enough but I would rather let some more votes be counted before we declare victory."

Benn, meanwhile, framed Cathcart during the campaign as beholden to special interests and out of touch with the district, citing heavy donations from organizations like the Spokane Association of Realtors.

District 2:
Lori Kinnear: 67.34 %
Tony Kiepe: 32.18 %

LORI KINNEAR emerged with a decisive victory to win a second term on the council, defeating conservative challenger TONY KIEPE.

Kinnear celebrated with other progressives including Beggs at O'Doherty's Irish Pub Tuesday, saying before the results came in that she was "cautiously optimistic."

The two candidates were in deep disagreement over many issues, including homelessness and public safety. Kiepe doesn’t think the city should be spending any money on a new shelter or warming center this winter, hoping that could help force people who are homeless to leave Spokane. Kinnear calls that inhuman and illegal.

Kiepe also told the Inlander that he supports the controversial right-wing idea popularized by Rep. Matt Shea to turn Eastern Washington into its own state called Liberty. Meanwhile, Shea has reportedly targeted Kinnear and two other councilmembers for surveillance.

Kinnear, who has a background in journalism and public relations, says she wants to continue the progress made on council in her next term. She hopes to incentivize development in the city’s downtown and neighborhood centers.

District 3:
Karen Stratton: 51.15 %
Andy Rathbun: 48.13 %

In Northwest Spokane’s District 3, incumbent KAREN STRATTON was edging out opponent ANDY RATHBUN with a 400-vote lead in early results tonight.

Stratton, first elected to council in 2015, spent the election focused on her successes on council working on issues such as development constraints and concerns with neighborhoods like Indian Trail.

Rathbun, who retired about a year ago from the Air Force, is a longtime community leader in the West Central neighborhood, and put about $30,000 of his own money toward his race. He was backed by the Washington Realtors Political Action Committee, which pumped several hundred thousand dollars overall into Spokane races.

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