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Spokane County 2021 primary election voter's guide

A handful of key races are up for vote. The primary election narrows down races to the top two candidates for the November general election.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane County voters will narrow down the field of candidates for local political office during Washington state's 2021 primary election.

The first ballot counts will take place on Aug. 3, 2021. A handful of key races are up for vote. For races, the primary election narrows down races to the top two candidates for the November general election. Races with more than two candidates will see candidates eliminated in this election.

Here's what you need to know about the 2021 primary election.

How to register

Before you can vote in Washington state, you must register. Registration can be done several ways: Online, by mail or in person.

To register online you'll need your Washington state driver's license or ID. Visit Votewa.gov and submit your information.

To register by mail, either print a voter registration form or request a registration form. Address the completed form to your county elections office address before mailing.

To register in person, visit your county election office (the Elections Division is open for curbside service during the pandemic).To register to vote, you must be:

  • A citizen of the United States
  • A legal resident of Washington state
  • At least 18 years old by Election Day
  • Not disqualified from voting due to a court order
  • Not under Department of Corrections supervision for a Washington felony conviction.

Dates and deadlines

July 16: Ballots are mailed. Start of 18-day voting period begins.

July 26: Online and mail registrations must be received at least eight days before Election Day. You can register to vote in person any time before 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Aug. 3: Deadline for voter registration or updates.

Aug. 3: Deposit ballot in official drop box by 8 p.m.

Voting by mail

Washington has been a vote by mail state since 2011. Registered voters do not need to request a ballot. Ballots are automatically mailed to the address the voter has registered. 

Confirm your registration at VoteWA.gov.

Completed ballots can be dropped off at an official drop box or by mail. Stamps are not needed to mail a completed ballot. Ballots must be deposited or postmarked by Election Day. The USPS recommends voters mail ballots a week prior.

Ballots must be signed. Signatures are checked against voter registration records.

Eligible voters are sent a ballot at least 18 days before Election Day. Ballots are placed in a security envelope or sleeve. The security envelope or sleeve is then put into a return envelope and signed.

Ballots have pre-paid postage and are returned through the mail or at ballot drop boxes. (If mailed, it must be postmarked by Election Day). Drop boxes are open until 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Tracking your ballot

After dropping off or mailing a ballot, voters can track the status of their ballot by visiting VoteWA.gov. Voters must sign in. On the navigation bar, select "Ballot Status." 

Information includes when the ballot was sent, when it was returned, and its current status.

How ballots are processed

After a ballot is delivered, envelopes are scanned and marked as "received" in the state system. They are sorted by precinct and district.

Signatures on ballots are checked against voter registration records. Voters are contacted before processing if a signature is missing or doesn't match.

Envelopes are opened and the security sleeve is removed. Ballots are removed from the security sleeve. Ballots are then reviewed for scanning issues, then scanned and stored.

Key races

Washington uses a top-two primary system, meaning all candidates are placed on one primary ballot, and the two candidates who get the most votes advance to the general election in November, regardless of party.

Because of this, races with only two or fewer candidates running will not appear on ballots. For instance, Spokane City Council, Position 2 has only incumbent Betsy Wilkerson and challenger Tyler LeMasters running. Since both will automatically advance to the general, neither will appear on primary ballots.

Spokane City Council, District 1

Three candidates are running to replace Council Member Kate Burke, the most progressive member of city council, who is not seeking reelection. The district represents Northeast Spokane. The other seat in this district is held by Council Member Michael Cathcart, currently the only conservative on city council.

Luc Jasmin III

Jasmin's career is in early childhood education; he is the co-owner of Parkview Early Learning Center, a preschool and daycare in North Spokane. He also serves on the city's police ombudsman commission, the civilian watchdog group that oversees the Spokane Police Department.

He claims endorsements from Washington State Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-Spokane), current Spokane Public Schools Board of Directors President Jerrall Haynes, Spokane City Council President Breean Beggs, Rev. Walter Kendricks of Morning Star Baptist Church, and many union organizations like the Spokane Regional Labor Council.

As of July 20, he had raised the most of any candidate for this office with $43,575.

Naghmana Sherazi

Sherazi works in Gonzaga University's Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, but began her career in biotech. She's a Pakistani immigrant who has also worked for a variety of local advocacy groups.

She claims endorsements from Spokane City Council President Breean Beggs, State Senator Marko Liias (D-Edmonds), who recently lost a bid for lieutenant governor, Spokane Public Schools Board of Directors Member Nikki Lockwood, union groups like the Spokane Regional Labor Council, and progressive groups like Fuse Washington.

As of July 20, she had raised $34,757.

Jonathan Bingle

Bingle owns an event company in Spokane and is a former pastor. He unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2019.

He's the lone conservative candidate running for this position, and his supporters reflect that. He claims endorsements from Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward, Spokane City Council Member Michael Cathcart, Spokane County Commissioners Josh Kerns and Al French, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, and former Spokane City Council Member Mike Fagan.

As of July 20, he had raised $31,794 himself, the least of any candidate for this position. However, by far the most money has been spent on his campaign. 

Political action committees funded by the National Association of Realtors and Washington Realtors have reported spending a combined $53,329 in support of Bingle, through hiring companies to canvas, phone bank, distribute direct mail, and purchase digital ads. These are classified as independent expenditures rather than contributions; there is no limit to how much can be spent in this regard, and the money can be spent regardless of whether the candidate actually approves. 

Similar PACs heavily funded Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward's campaign, as well as Spokane Council Member Michael Cathcart's, and Cindy Wendle's unsuccessful campaign for city council president and Andy Rathbun's unsuccessful campaign for city council in 2019. 

Spokane City Council, District 3

Current City Council Member Candice Mumm is term-limited and so cannot seek re-election this year. Five candidates are running to replace her. This district represents Northwest Spokane. The other seat is held by Council Member Karen Stratton.

Lacrecia "Lu" Hill

Hill owns cannabis brands and runs a consulting business. She's also a yoga instructor and serves on several boards, including Spectrum LGBTQIA2+ and the Inland Northwest Business Alliance. She worked for the Boys & Girls Club for many years.

She claims endorsements from several union groups including the Spokane Regional Labor Council, as well as NARAL Pro-Choice Washington.

As of July 20, she had raised $38,308, the most of any candidate for this position.

Zack Zappone

Zappone has worked as a teacher in several Spokane-area schools, and volunteered in public health during the pandemic. He is a Fulbright Scholar who has degrees from Georgetown and Princeton. He ran for state representative against incumbent Rep. Mike Volz (R-Spokane) in 2020, losing narrowly but surprising many with a relatively strong showing in a typically solid-red district.

He claims endorsements from a plethora of union groups including the Spokane Regional Labor Council, saying on his website he has the most labor endorsements of any candidate, as well as progressive groups like Fuse Washington.

As of July 20, he had raised $32,479.

Mike Lish

Lish runs D. Lish's Hamburgers, a Spokane business co-founded by his parents.

He claims endorsements from State Representatives Mike Volz (R-Spokane) and Jenny Graham (R-Spokane).

As of July 20, he had raised $25,904. However, by far the most money has been spent on his campaign. 

Political action committees funded by the National Association of Realtors and Washington Realtors have reported spending a combined $49,192 in support of Lish, through hiring companies to canvas, phone bank, distribute direct mail, and purchase digital ads. These are classified as independent expenditures rather than contributions; there is no limit to how much can be spent in this regard, and the money can be spent regardless of whether the candidate actually approves. 

Similar PACs heavily funded Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward's campaign, as well as Spokane Council Member Michael Cathcart's, and Cindy Wendle's unsuccessful campaign for city council president and Andy Rathbun's unsuccessful campaign for city council in 2019.

Karen Kearney

Kearney spent her career in banking, but has since retired. She currently serves as the chair of her neighborhood council, Balboa South Indian Trail, a position she has had for nine years.

She does not claim any endorsements on her website or in the voters' pamphlet.

As of July 20, she had reported $19,402 raised, almost all of which is her own money.

Christopher Savage

Savage has worked for restaurants, Meals-On-Wheels, and as a Lyft driver, and served on several community boards. He is currently the Vice Chair of the Salary Review Commission for the City of Spokane. He unsuccessfully ran for city council in 2019.

He does not claim any endorsements from political leaders or advocacy groups, but does from some businesses.

As of July 20, he had raised $8,948, the least of any candidate running for any position on Spokane City Council this year.

Spokane Public Schools, Board of Directors Position 3

This position is currently held by Board President Jerrall Haynes, who is not seeking re-election. Winning this seat will not automatically make the seat-holder board president; leadership positions are nominated and voted on by board members once they are seated.

Melissa Bedford

Bedford is an Assistant Professor of Literacy at Eastern Washington University. She has several degrees in education, including a doctorate.

She claims endorsements from teachers' unions including the Spokane Education Association and the Washington Education Association, as well as progressive groups like Fuse Washington and union groups like the Spokane Regional Labor Council.

As of July 20, she had raised $10,522.

Daryl Geffken

Geffken is a vice president and financial advisor at D.A. Davidson, and has been an adjunct professor at Gonzaga University and Eastern Washington University. He has several degrees in education, including a doctorate. 

He does not claim any endorsements on his website or in the voters' pamphlet. The Ponderosa Republican Women of Spokane County have volunteered for his campaign, according to photos on his Facebook page, and he has aligned with other local conservative candidates running for office this year.

Geffken's website template and slogan are virtually identical to position 4 candidate Kata Dean.

As of July 20, he had raised $7,307.

Jake Leadingham

Leadingham has served in the Washington Army National Guard and worked for AmeriCorps.

He does not claim any endorsements on his Facebook page or in the voters' pamphlet. He does not have a working website.

He has chosen to mini-file with the Public Disclosure Commission, meaning he intends to raise no more than $5,000 and so does not need to file contribution reports.

Kenneth Cameron

Cameron has owned an advertising company in Spokane.

He does not appear to have a website or campaign presence of any kind.

He has chosen to mini-file with the Public Disclosure Commission, meaning he intends to raise no more than $5,000 and so does not need to file contribution reports.

Karina Hernandez

Hernandez did not submit any professional experience to the voters' pamphlet, but has volunteered for many organizations.

She does not appear to have a website or campaign presence of any kind.

She has chosen to mini-file with the Public Disclosure Commission, meaning he intends to raise no more than $5,000 and so does not need to file contribution reports.

Andrew Mendez

Mendez has not submitted any information to the voters' pamphlet and does not appear to have a website or campaign presence of any kind. 

He has chosen to mini-file with the Public Disclosure Commission, meaning he intends to raise no more than $5,000 and so does not need to file contribution reports.

Darryl Johnson

Johnson is a critical care nurse in a local ICU. He has submitted very limited information to the voters' pamphlet and does not appear to have a website or campaign presence of any kind. 

It appears he has not filed with the Public Disclosure Commission, meaning it is unlikely he is actively running a campaign, although his name will appear on the ballot. 

Richard Cangelosi

Cangelosi has not submitted any information to the voters' pamphlet and does not appear to have a website or campaign presence of any kind. He is listed as an associate math professor at Gonzaga University. 

It appears he has not filed with the Public Disclosure Commission, meaning it is unlikely he is actively running a campaign, although his name will appear on the ballot.

Spokane Public Schools, Board of Directors Position 4

This position is currently held by Aryn Ziehnert, who was appointed to finish the term when the previous director resigned. She is not seeking re-election.

Kata Dean

Dean runs a life coaching business, and has worked in mental and behavioral health, largely with teenagers and children dealing with substance addiction or sexual abuse.

She does not claim any endorsements on her website or in the voters' pamphlet. Her website template and slogan are virtually identical to position 3 candidate Daryl Geffken, who Facebook photos indicate she has campaigned alongside, in addition to other conservative candidates for Spokane office.

As of July 20, she had raised $11,072, the most of any candidate running for school board in Spokane this year.

Riley Smith

Smith works for Feeding Washington, an anti-hunger non-profit. He also has direct political experience, working for City Council Member Betsy Wilkerson's re-election campaign, and previously running Zack Zappone's 2020 campaign for state representative, which lost narrowly. 

He claims endorsements from Wilkerson and Zappone, as will as city council candidate Luc Jasmin III, the Spokane County Young Democrats, and a local labor union.

As of July 20, he had raised $9,687.

Rion Ametu

Ametu is a Navy veteran who currently works for FedEx.

He claims endorsements from teachers unions, the Spokane Education Association and the Washington Education Association.

As of July 20, he had raised $4,568.

Culzean Fairley

Fairley says on her website and in the voters' pamphlet that she directs education programs for at-risk youth in Spokane, though does not specify which programs. She has also worked as a teacher at the middle and high school levels in Washington, and has a master's degree in education.

She does not claim any endorsements on her website or in the voters' pamphlet. 

As of July 20, she had raised $592.

Corstian Dehle-Jones

Dehle-Jones works for food service company HMSHost at the Spokane International Airport, and is the shop steward for his hospitality workers union local.

He does not appear to have a website or campaign presence of any kind.

He has full-filed with the Public Disclosure Commission, but as of July 20, has reported no donations.

Spokane Valley City Council, Position 4

The position is currently held by Ben Wick. In Spokane Valley, the members of city council vote on a mayor and deputy mayor every two years. Currently, Wick is also the mayor.

Ben Wick

Wick is the incumbent in this position and also the city's current mayor. He also owns two hyper-local newspapers and works for Spokane Industries.

He claims endorsements from Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, Spokane County Commissioner Mary Kuney, and several former Spokane Valley council members. He also claims an endorsement from Mainstream Republicans of Washington, a center-right political organization.

As of July 20, he had raised $11,910, the most of any candidate running in Spokane Valley.

Brandon Fenton

Fenton co-owns The Black Diamond bar in Spokane Valley, which controversially reopened during COVID restrictions, though eventually closed down again after it faced a suspension of its liquor license. He is also a veteran of the Washington Air National Guard.

He claims endorsements from State Representative Rob Chase (R-Spokane Valley), State Representative Bob McCaslin Jr. (R-Spokane Valley), and Spokane Valley City Council Member Rod Higgins. His father, Wayne Fenton, is running for position 5 and the two share a website, with a slogan spun off from former President Donald Trump's.

As of July 20, he had raised $1,170.

Christopher Ingraham

Ingraham does not describe any professional experience in the voters' pamphlet, saying only he's participated in humanitarian projects.

He does not appear to have a website or campaign presence of any kind.

He has filed with the Public Disclosure Commission, but as of July 20, had reported no donations.

Mark McManus

McManus filed for office but has since withdrawn his candidacy, though his name will still appear on the ballot.

Spokane Valley City Council, Position 5

The position is currently held by Pam Haley. She is seeking re-election.

Pamela Haley

Haley is the incumbent in this position. She also owns a daycare.

She claims endorsements from Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, all three Spokane County Commissioners (Josh Kerns, Al French, and Mary Kuney), Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell, fellow Spokane Valley Council Members Rod Higgins and Arne Woodard, State Representative Bob McCaslin (R-Spokane Valley), State Senator Mike Padden (R-Spokane), and State Senator Jeff Holy (R-Spokane).

As of July 20, she had raised $6,775.

Wayne Fenton

Fenton co-owns The Black Diamond bar in Spokane Valley, which controversially reopened during COVID restrictions, though eventually closed down again after it faced a suspension of its liquor license. Before that, he worked in the aluminum industry.

He does not claim any endorsements on his website or in the voters' pamphlet. His son, Brandon, is running for position 4, and the two share a website, with a slogan spun off from former President Donald Trump's.

As of July 20, he had raised $5,790.

Mary Butler-Stonewall

Butler-Stonewall runs a disaster prevention consulting firm and previously worked in construction.

She does not appear to have a website or campaign presence of any kind.

She has chosen to mini-file with the Public Disclosure Commission, meaning she intends to raise no more than $5,000 and so does not need to file contribution reports.

Pat Stretch

Stretch was a retired Coast Guard officer who had worked for Spokane County in several different capacities, including in housing and for the prosecutor's office.

He died in June from a fall while climbing Mt. Hood, though his name will still appear on the ballot.

Spokane Valley City Council, Position 7

This position is currently held by Linda Thompson. She is seeking re-election.

Linda Hatcher Thompson

Thompson is the incumbent in this position. She also says she is the executive director of a non-profit that focuses on youth, but does not specify which non-profit.

She claims an endorsement from Spokane Valley City Council Member and current Deputy Mayor Brandi Peetz.

As of July 20, she had raised $1,870.

Laura Padden

Padden is a web designer who is married to State Senator Mike Padden (R-Spokane).

In addition to her husband, she claims endorsements from Spokane County Commissioner Josh Kerns, Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell, Spokane County Treasurer Michael Baumgartner, Spokane Valley Council Members Rod Higgins, Arne Woodard, and Pam Haley, State Representative Bob McCaslin (R-Spokane Valley), State Representative Rob Chase (R-Spokane Valley), and State Senator Jeff Holy (R-Spokane).

As of July 20, she had raised $9,662.

Renault Patrick Evans

Evans is a former teacher who currently works for a bank.

He does not appear to have a website or formal campaign presence of any kind, but has posted campaign messages on his personal Facebook profile.

He has chosen to mini-file with the Public Disclosure Commission, meaning he intends to raise no more than $5,000 and so does not need to file contribution reports.

Adam Smith

Smith owns a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym and is a volunteer EMT/firefighter.

He does not appear to have a website or campaign presence of any kind.

It appears he has not filed with the Public Disclosure Commission, meaning it is unlikely he is actively running a campaign, although his name will appear on the ballot.

Central Valley School District, Board of Directors Position 5

This seat is currently held by Mysti Renau, who is not seeking re-election.

Pam Orebaugh

Orebaugh is a registered nurse who teaches at the Washington State University College of Nursing, and worked on the campaign to reject Referendum 90, meaning she opposed comprehensive sex ed.

She claims a number of personal endorsements on her website, though none from local leaders or advocacy organizations.

She has chosen to mini-file with the Public Disclosure Commission, meaning she intends to raise no more than $5,000 and so does not need to file contribution reports.

Jared Von Tobel

Von Tobel is a sales representative for a fire protection systems company who has served on many school district committees.

He does not claim any endorsements on his Facebook page or in the voters' pamphlet. He does not have a campaign website.

He has chosen to mini-file with the Public Disclosure Commission, meaning he intends to raise no more than $5,000 and so does not need to file contribution reports.

Rob Linebarger

Linebarger currently works in communication technology and is a retired Navy veteran.

He does not claim any endorsements on his website or in the voters' pamphlet.

He has chosen to mini-file with the Public Disclosure Commission, meaning he intends to raise no more than $5,000 and so does not need to file contribution reports.