SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - Spokane Valley voters chose nearly a complete overhaul for the city council in this year's election. A majority of the incumbents were ousted by their competitors. Voters rejected Mike Munch, Ed Pace and J. Caleb Collier.
Michael Davisson has lived in the Spokane Valley for 17 years. He said a group of politically diverse residents came together last year to question the city leadership after the firing of City Administrator Mike Jackson. Davisson said Jackson had a sterling reputation and his firing raised a lot of questions.
"Everybody liked him and all of a sudden he's fired and no reasons are given," Davisson said.
That controversy coupled with some highly conservative initiatives, including a "parental rights" declaration aimed at allowing unvaccinated students from attending school during a disease outbreak, upset many residents.
"[Residents] were looking for a smooth running city and they didn't get it," Davisson said.
When asked about the work done by the council, current councilman Ed Pace said he and the other council members have been doing a great job.
He said he's never missed a city council meeting and never voted to raise taxes.
"I'd prefer that we kept our conservative bent. I would have preferred that the three of us won. I wish it would have been the other way around," Pace said.
His primary concern with the new leadership is that "it's just going to get more liberal."
"It'll be interesting to see if the claims they made when they were campaigning prove to be true," Pace said.
Those claims include a promise to remain available to residents and transparent in what's going on in the city. Councilman-elect Ben Wick said he's ready to meet those commitments.
"I'm here to represent everybody. So, if you have an idea. I'm wanting to hear about it," Wick said.
He said the new council includes a group of people with diverse backgrounds and ages.
Pace is a fourth generation in the Valley and serves as a citizen on the Regional Transportation Committee Council. Linda Hatcher, who unseated Munch, has been executive director of the Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council for more than 25 years. And Brandi Peetz, who unseated Collier, serves on the Spokane County Citizen's Advisory Board.
"I think we are pretty excited. The Valley seems to want change. We got a great slate of candidates from a more youthful side and a lot of history in the Valley," Wick said.
Pace sees this year's election as evidence of a changing political climate.
"The political leaning of the city is shifting. Just like the nation seems to be shifting, we're shifting to the left," Pace said.
But Davisson says this isn't about political affiliation. He believes residents looked beyond party lines to pick leaders who would best serve the community.
"It's a sign that this country can come together. That maybe we have some different ideas, but we can wortk together and make it better for everybody," Davisson said.
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