SPOKANE, Wash. — Election Day 2021 is fast approaching and voters in Spokane and Kootenai counties will have a choice between candidates for local political office.
The general election for Spokane County and consolidated election for Kootenai County will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 2. The races included on the ballot in Spokane County include Spokane and Spokane Valley City Council, along with Spokane Public Schools Board and Central Valley School District Board of Directors positions. In Kootenai County, voters will cast their ballots for mayoral, city council and school board trustee races, among others.
Ballots for the Spokane County election will be mailed between Wednesday, Oct. 13 and Friday, Oct. 15, according to the Spokane County Elections Office. Election results will be available after 8 p.m. on Nov. 2.
Here’s what you need to know about the 2021 general 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 will 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 a Corrections supervision for a Washington Felony Conviction.
In Idaho, you can visit https://voteidaho.gov/ to register to vote, update voter registration or request an absentee ballot.
To register to vote in Idaho, you must be:
- A citizen of the United States
- A resident of Idaho and the county you live in for at least 30 days before the election
- At least 18 years old
- Without legal disqualifications
Dates and deadlines
- Oct. 13-15: Ballots are mailed.
- Oct. 25: Deadline to receive new registrations and voter updates online and by mail. 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.
- Nov.2: Deposit ballot in official drop box by 8 p.m.
- Oct. 22: Last day to request an absentee ballot. The deadline is 5 p.m.
- Early voting will be available at the Elections Department starting Oct. 18, through Oct. 29. Early voting hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Nov. 2: Election Day polling places will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Voting by mail in Washington
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.
Voting in Idaho
Idaho does not use a vote by mail system. All voters should be present at the polls to cast their vote. Polls will open at 8 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on election day. In some instances, polls may open at 7 a.m.
Idaho also requests voters to present identification while voting. The following choices include:
- An Idaho driver’s license or Idaho identification card
- A U.S. passport or Federal photo identification card
- A tribal photo identification card
- A current student photo ID, issued by an Idaho high school or post-secondary education institution
- A license to carry a concealed weapon issued by a county sheriff in Idaho
All voters are eligible to vote absentee in Idaho. There are no special eligibility requirements for voting absentee. To vote absentee, an application must be received by election officials no later than Oct. 22.
Idaho also allows early voting. More info on early voting can be found at voteidaho.gov.
Tracking your ballot
After dropping off or mailing a ballot, Washington 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.
In Idaho, cameras will show staff counting votes on Election night. Voters can also track their ballot online.
Key races in Spokane and Kootenai counties
Washington uses a two-candidate general system, meaning that the two candidates who received the most votes in the primary elections will compete in November’s general election, regardless of party.
In Kootenai County's consolidated election, more than two candidates are on the ballot for some races.
Spokane City Council District 1
Jonathan Bingle and Naghmana Sherazi 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.
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.
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.
Spokane City Council District 3
Current City Council Member Candace Mumm is term-limited and cannot seek re-election this year. This district represents Northwest Spokane. The other seat is held by Council Member Karen Stratton.
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.
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).
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Spokane Valley City Council, Position 5
The position is currently held by Pam Haley. She is seeking re-election.
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).
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.
Spokane Valley City Council, Position 7
This position is currently held by Linda Thompson. She is seeking re-election.
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.
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).
Central Valley School District, Board of Directors Position 5
This seat is currently held by Mysti Renau, who is not seeking re-election.
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.
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.
Coeur d'Alene Mayor
Coeur d'Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer announced in April 2021 that he would not seek a third term. In announcing that he will not seek a third term this November, he said: “Eight years is good."
Widmyer won his first term in 2013 by easily defeating Mary Souza. Four years later, he wasn’t even opposed.
Widmyer said the "biggest challenge" for the next mayor and city council is housing affordability in the Coeur d'Alene area.
Joe Alfieri is a member of the Coeur d'Alene business community, who served as a business developer or a local company before his retirement, according to his website. Joe also served on the Coeur d'Alene Economic Development Corporations' Jobs Plus Action Committee and as chairman of the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce Membership Outreach Committee. During that period, he helped develop CoeurFest, a September festival in North Idaho.
Jim Hammond is a former educator, Post Falls mayor, Coeur d’Alene city administrator and three-term state senator.
Hammond was a teacher and then school administrator from 1973 to 1996. He served as Post Falls mayor from 1991 to 1996, then as Post Falls city administrator from 1996 to 2006.
In 2006, Hammond was elected as state senator representing District 5. Hammond won his next two terms unopposed in the general election before opting to not seek re-election in 2012.
His experience as Coeur d’Alene city administrator from 2016 to 2019 helped shape his decision to run for mayor, he told KREM 2 news partner the Coeur d'Alene Press.
A recent resident, Michael Lentz has been living in Coeur d’Alene for six months. In that time, he has grown to love the city, but has expressed disdain for the direction of Coeur d’Alene’s local politics on his YouTube channel.
Running unaffiliated, Lentz emphasized "growth" for Coeur d’Alene in his campaign statement, urging residents that the city's lack of planning for growth will cause "all of the things that are special about the city to disappear quickly."
“Part of the problem that we’re having right now is that there’s not a clear vision of the direction that the city is intending to head,” Lentz said in one of his YouTube videos. “The city and the county at large is lacking any sort of leadership around growth.”
Post Falls Mayor
Ronald J. Jacobson has been Mayor of Post Falls since 2018 and is currently serving his second term.
A resident of Post Falls since 1980, Jacobson was first appointed to the city council in 1999 and elected to three terms on council and served as council president from 2012 to 2014. He has also served on the Parks & Recreation Commission and the Post Falls Urban Renewal Agency.
Jacobson has also served on the boards of various community and non-profit organizations.
Austin Hildebrand has lived in Kootenai County since the late 1990s. Hildebrand made a name for himself in the Post Falls community as a brewer.
In 2020, Hildebrand opened his very first brewery, High Society Brewing. Not long after, he expanded another local Hayden brewery. Bombastic Brewing, to have a presence in four states.
Hildebrand harbored an interest in community service and local politics since his grade school years. According to his campaign profile, Hildebrand wants to make a positive impact in the lives of others by running for mayor and help Post Falls grow as a city.
Coeur d'Alene School District Zone 1
Allie Anderton was born and raised in Coeur d'Alene, according to her website. She has three daughters one grandson.
Anderton outlined the following principles guiding her run:
I am running for this position because our current board seat has proven they are out of touch with our parents, teachers, and students. They have chosen not to reflect the views of those they were elected to represent.
The purpose of government in our school system should be minimal, providing funding and general guidance. It is not the government's roll to indoctrinate our students in a philosophy to hate each other and their country. I believe the government's overreach in our schools needs to be reined in.
I am fiscally conservative and believe the funds appropriated for our student's should be used to best benefit those students and their teachers. Overspending on administrative costs needs to stop, and more needs to be seen in our classrooms and programs.
We need to teach our children fundamental math, science, strong communication and social skills, and an appreciation of the arts. We cannot do these things remotely, or when metaphorically muzzled. We need to teach them to be cautious, but not to live in fear.
After 15 years of volunteering in classrooms, guiding my children through public school conundrums, speaking directly with teachers, students, and parents, and building strong relationships throughout, I know I am in a position to stand up and be a voice for those I would represent.
Lisa May is seeking re-election for the Zone 1 Trustee position, which she has held since 2017.
May has served as founding board member of Coeur d’Alene Education Partnership, Chair of the Yes! Campaign for past school levy and bonds, president on the Long Range Planning Committee, and was elected to her current position School Board Trustee for Zone 1.
During her term as trustee, May has supported the expansion of full-day kindergarten and championed completion of the district’s Strategic Plan, which includes a 10-year Long Range Facilities Plan.
She also has advocated for adjusting school attendance zones to balance enrollment and demographics, rallied community support for successful passage of the 2021 levy, and promoted the creation of a district-wide mental health program for those who need support.
May was born, raised and educated in Spokane, then received her undergraduate degree in Spanish and nursing at University of Washington, prior to completing her ICU/Critical Care nursing training at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas. She and her husband, Dr. Mike May, and their three children moved to Coeur d’Alene in 2006
Coeur d'Alene School District Zone 4
Two candidates are running for the seat previously held by board chair Jennifer Brumley, who announced that she would not seek re-election.
Lesli Bjerke is a retired elementary school teacher, according to the Kootenai County GOP website. She has a bachelor's degree in Liberal Studies; a multiple subject teaching credential; a supplemental credential to teach math in sixth through ninth grades; and a master’s degree in Education Administration.
After 25 years in the field, Bjerke said she now operates a small business from her home as a fashion stylist for Cabi Clothing.
Lindsey Swingrover was born and raised in Coeur d'Alene. She has worked in education for the last 15 years, now serving as a member of the Long-Range Planning Committee and as PTO Secretary. Swingrover also has 10 years of experience as a nationally certified school psychologist in Coeur d’Alene.
Swingrover was already on a planned leave of absence from her position as a school psychologist this year when she was asked to run for the school board, and has since submitted her resignation contingent on her election.
Coeur d'Alene School District Zone 5
Rebecca Smith has held the School Board Trustee Zone 5 seat since November 2019 after a unanimous appointment to the board.
Smith serves as Vice Chair of the board and is in her second year of work with the Long Range Planning Committee.
During her time on the board, Smith has advocated for expansion of full-day kindergarten, supported completion of the district's strategic plan, facilitated the adjustment of school attendance zones, and promoted passage of the successful 2021 school levy.
She currently serves as the Associate Director of Lutherhaven Ministries, a local nonprofit youth and family camp and retreat center.
Glen Campbell retired in 2016 after 24 years with the University of Redlands serving as the Manager of the Media Services Department, according to the Kootenai County GOP website. He is currently an on-air personality for radio station, KYMS 89.9FM, where he hosts "The Rhinestone Highway" afternoon drive time show from 2 to 7 p.m.
Campbell holds an Associates Degree in Communications/Broadcasting and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business and Management from the University of Redlands.
Staff with our news partners at the Coeur d'Alene Press contributed to this election guide.