Spin Control: Spokane election results fit a pattern in ballot count thus far (2024)

Although counting in the Spokane city elections continues, delayed first by a possible terrorist scare and then by a state holiday, patterns in the partial results seem clear and align with past trends.

Northeast Spokane, which has a long history of supporting Democrats for state and federal offices, is likely to support conservative candidates with populist leanings in city races. South Spokane, once a reliably conservative Republican stronghold, is now a solidly liberal progressive base.

Municipal elections are nonpartisan in Washington, so candidates aren’t listed as Democrats or Republicans on the ballot or campaign signs, even though some have been identified with one party or the other for years

In city races, it’s probably more correct to identify them as leaning toward positions that are conservative or populist, and those leaning toward liberal or progressive positions. Even when candidates shy away from such labels – promising to represent all their constituents and be open to good ideas from all parts of the ideological spectrum – the source of their financial backing tends to put them in one camp or the other.

In the Spokane mayor’s race, the lines were clearly drawn early. Incumbent Nadine Woodward, who had never run for office before winning the seat in 2019, was clearly the more conservative candidate in the race, with backing from key business groups. Challenger Lisa Brown, a former Democratic legislator and department director for the current Democratic governor, was the more liberal, with support from labor organizations and progressive groups.

The council president race could be similarly defined, with incumbent councilwoman Betsy Wilkerson in the liberal progressive camp and Kim Plese, a former Republican candidate for county commission, in the conservative business camp.

The council races provided similar matchups, although the candidates ran separate from those in other districts or those running citywide. In District 1, incumbent Michael Cathcart was clearly the business conservative, having headed one pro-business group, Better Spokane; worked for another, the Homebuilders Association; and collected campaign money from others. His opponent, Lindsey Shaw, has been active in several city, community and campus organizations, and had the backing of Sharon Smith and Don Barbieri of the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, FUSE Washington and the teachers union.

In District 2, Paul Dillon was the clear progressive, a longtime spokesman for Planned Parenthood and a Democratic precinct officer with contributions from Sharon Smith and Don Barbieri. Katey Treloar, a former teacher who founded and operated Executive Function Coaching LLC, received backing from business groups.

In District 3, Kitty Klitzke, who has worked for the Lands Council and Futurewise, and served on a variety of local and regional transportation commissions, had financial support from Smith and Barbieri as well as the firefighters union. Earl Moore, a longtime respiratory therapist and member of the Spokane Human Rights Commission, had support from the Washington Realtors PAC and other real estate and development interests.

Jobs, memberships and donations don’t completely define any candidate, and their success or lack of it is often affected by other things like a strong campaign organization or a key issue.

But in this year’s Spokane elections, the general alignments seemed clear: Woodward, Plese, Cathcart, Treloar and Moore versus Brown, Wilkerson, Shaw, Dillon and Klitzke.

The vote count as of Friday seems to bear that out. Although thousands of ballots remain to be counted, results to date from the five races show a definite pattern that probably won’t surprise close observers of Spokane city politics.

As they have for several election cycles, conservative candidates did best in District 1, the precincts generally located east of Division Street and north of Interstate 90. This despite the fact that those precincts made up a significant portion of the legislative district that sent Brown to Olympia for some 20 years.

Progressive candidates did best in District 2, which encompasses most of Spokane south of I-90 and along the Sunset Highway.

District 3, which has voters west of Division from the north city limits to part of downtown, is more of a tossup. The voters south of Francis were more likely to cast their ballots for Brown and other progressives. Those north of that arterial were more likely to vote for Woodward and Plese, but in the council race supported Klitzke.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this column incorrectly attributed personal contributions from Sharon Smith and Don Barbieri to three council candidates as being from the Progressive Fund that has their name. The story was changed on Nov. 13, 2023.

Spin Control: Spokane election results fit a pattern in ballot count thus far (2024)


Is Spokane red or blue? ›

Spokane County is rather conservative for an urban county. It has voted Republican all but three times since 1948.

What is the school levy in Spokane? ›

Spokane Public Schools

The levy makes up 14% of the district's budget and funds extracurricular activities, supplemental staff salaries and other programs the state doesn't pay for. The proposal would tax property owners at an estimated rate of $2.50 per $1,000 in assessed property value each of those years.

Who won the mayoral race in Spokane? ›

Lisa Brown47.52
Nadine Woodward (incumbent)36.61
Tim Archer12.85
Patrick McKann2.08
3 more rows

What percent black is Spokane? ›

Spokane County is not racially diverse. Among county residents in 2021, 84.3% were white, 8.5% were of two or more races, 2.5% Asian, 2.2% Black, 1.7% American Indian/Alaska Native, 0.9% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander.

What is Spokane WA famous for? ›

It is known as the birthplace of Father's Day, and locally by the nickname of "Lilac City". Officially, Spokane goes by the nickname of Hooptown USA, due to Spokane annually hosting Spokane Hoopfest, the world's largest basketball tournament.

What is the Spokane bond and levy for 2024? ›

Spokane Public Schools is asking for a $200 million bond that would pay for remodeling some schools and replacing others. Levies supports services like extracurricular activities, special education programs, and smaller class sizes. The estimated levy rate per $1,000 of assessed property value is $2.50.

Did the Spokane school levy pass? ›

While all five school district bonds failed in Tuesday's special election, all but one levy passed in Spokane County, according to updated results on Thursday.

What is the 2024 levy for Spokane Public Schools? ›

For 2024, the district will collect an estimated $3.82 per $1,000 in assessed property value. The average value of a property in the district is about $370,000. Using that figure, the average homeowner in Spokane Public Schools will pay $1,413 toward local schools this year.

Who is the mayor of Spokane WA? ›

Incumbent. Lisa Brown

This is a list of mayors of Spokane, Washington, a city in the northwestern United States. Frank G. Sutherlin (Sr.)

How much does Spokane City Council make? ›

The salary range for a City Council Member job is from $28,913 to $31,648 per year in Spokane, WA.

Who is Nadine Woodwards' husband? ›

Serves on boards for the Downtown Spokane Partnership, Visit Spokane, Greater Spokane Incorporated, the WSU Advisory Board, WorkSource Spokane and the University District Public Development Authority. Political experience: Elected Spokane mayor in 2019. Family: Married to Bruce Felt.

What is the demographics of Spokane? ›

Spokane County is far less diverse than either the state or the nation. In 2021, 88.9 percent of the county was white compared to 78.5 percent of the state and 76.3 percent of the nation. Hispanics or Latinos made up 6.1 percent of the population compared to 13.0 percent in the state.

What are the demographics of Spokane? ›

Spokane, WA is home to a population of 226k people, from which 97.1% are citizens. As of 2021, 6% of Spokane, WA residents were born outside of the country (13.6k people). In 2021, there were 14.8 times more White (Non-Hispanic) residents (181k people) in Spokane, WA than any other race or ethnicity.

What is the crime rate in Spokane WA? ›

With a crime rate of 64 per one thousand residents, Spokane has one of the highest crime rates in America compared to all communities of all sizes - from the smallest towns to the very largest cities. One's chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime here is one in 16.

Is Spokane a good place to live? ›

Spokane's growing economy is one of the many reasons why it is a great place to live and work. The city has experienced significant growth in recent years, with opportunities in healthcare, education, technology, and other sectors.

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