Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

"Moscow City Council takes a sharp turn as GMA-backed candidates sweep into office"

Goodbye, Citizen Ament. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Moscow politics took a drastic shift Tuesday with the election of three new City Council members and leaving only the newest incumbent left.

Cheers and shouts of victory echoed through the Eastside Marketplace as Greater Moscow Alliance members learned all three of their endorsed candidates won seats on the council.

Dan Carscallen and Wayne Krauss won four-year seats, and Walter Steed won the lone two-year seat. All were endorsed by the GMA, which was established in 2006 to promote free enterprise and property rights.

Tom Lamar, who was appointed to council in June, also won a four-year seat on the council with the highest total number of votes.

Lamar was endorsed by the Moscow Civic Association, which was established in 2002 to work for progressive and sustainable communities. The MCA also endorsed incumbents Linda Pall and Aaron Ament, who placed fourth and fifth, respectively, in the four-year race. Evan Holmes, who was not endorsed by either group, was defeated by Steed.

"This shows me that many people in Moscow are not happy with the way things have been handled and are looking for some fresher ideas on the City Council," Krauss said.

Carscallen, Krauss and Steed agreed voter turnout played a major role in their success. This year, 37.82 percent of voters went to the polls. In the 2005 election, 30.52 percent of voters cast ballots.

Krauss and Carscallen said they were thankful for the GMA's effort to get people to vote, as well as the group's support for their campaigns. Steed said he had been largely on his own when he ran in the past, but "this time there was a lot of people that really wanted to make a change and worked to make it happen."

The GMA candidates' victories brings the council to more "middle road," Krauss said.

"I think that we're pretty much just a moderate, centrist group and I think we're going to bring that centrist look back to the City Council," Carscallen said.

Carscallen thanked his competitors for running a clean campaign. He said he looks forward to hearing from Ament, Pall and Holmes as they stay involved in city government.

Krauss said now is the time for people in Moscow to find common ground.

"We all have the same goal of keeping Moscow the community that it is and still remain economically viable," he said. "We can do this by working together."

Lamar also spoke of working together and dedicated his victory to John Dickinson. Dickinson, who was elected to council in 2003, went missing in January after a traffic accident. His body was recovered from the Columbia River in July.

"As a City Council member he operated with a spirit of community-building and teamwork and good decision-making," Lamar said. "I feel like that's what we need to have in this community."

Lamar thinks he will work well with the new council members. He said they have been involved with city government, but have not attended council meetings frequently or worked at that level.

"I think that probably the major thing right off the bat is that there's going to be a steep learning curve for new members of the council," he said. "But that's happened in past elections, too."

The new council will face the same issues as the current council, such as water use and lack of sidewalks.

"We're going to have to step up as a council, as one unified group, to solve these problems," he said.

Lamar attributed his success to many volunteers and his community experience as director of the Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute.

"There were hundreds of people involved in my campaign, and I think it shows," he said.

Pall said this election drives a wedge further into Moscow politics. She said "electoral comments" and the presence of Dave Glasebrook, the independent picketer who accused her, Lamar and Ament of being bigots played a role in the election.

"That wedge is something that I had been working on for four years to heal, and this seems to go in the opposite direction," she said.

Pall said she plans to continue working on projects such as the dog park and Paradise Path. Her advice for the new council members is to look outside Moscow for education and ideas.

Pall, who has been a councilwoman on and off since 1977, said she may run again in the future.

"It has been a real honor to serve the city of Moscow for 18 years, and I look forward to doing it off the council as well," she said.

Ament declined to comment. Holmes could not be reached by press time.

Moscow City Council

Four-year seat

x Tom Lamar 2,847

x Wayne Krauss 2,768

x Dan Cascallen 2,579

Linda Pall 2,451

Aaron Ament 2,285

Two-year seat

x Walter Steed 2,529

Evan Holmes 2,307

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