Election season is in full swing with Spokane's mayoral candidates squaring off to discuss water rates, inconsistent facts and the Otto Zehm case.
Early Thursday afternoon, incumbent Mayor Mary Verner faced challenger David Condon at a debate sponsored by the Rotary Club at the Spokane Club. Condon, a non-partisan candidate, currently serves as Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers deputy chief of staff.
With the civility the two candidates exhibited, it was more of a discussion than a debate. That air of civility extended to the attending Rotary 21 guests, who dined on steak and potatoes for lunch and were discouraged from clapping or booing during the debate.
And then, both smiling and polite, at 12:45 sharp, the two candidates took their podiums to answer pre-selected questions. First off the candidates got the opportunity to make an impression, with the forefront of the candidates' discussion focused on the city's water rates and inconsistent facts.
"How did we get these water rates and car tab fee increases," Condon said. "And, you know, why is it taking so long to resolve the situation with Otto Zehm and his family?"
"Clearly our citizens priority number one is public safety and that is where I've focused most of my effort," Verner countered.
The questions focused on jobs, leadership, and the candidates talked a lot about the city council's recent vote to increase water rates.
"Going back, just like remember the snow removal, we didn't have perfect snow removal but we learned from it and we went back with a better proposal, I think the council didn't get it right on water rates," Verner said.
"Well then I would ask the mayor, why did she not veto it, she had two opportunities to veto it, she could have vetoed the structure last year, and she could have vetoed the 16-percent increase across all that structure just a couple weeks ago," Condon countered.
Verner snapped back at Condon, saying that he's spreading false information and doesn't have his numbers right. Condon countered that the mayor can find all of his facts on the city's own website.
Largely the Rotary-sponsored debate lacked sparks many thought would be there, considering the contentious issue of the Otto Zehm case. Condon has been an outspoken critic of the mayor's decision to review the case almost five years after the incident.