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Left Out

Two Spokane Valley city councilmen have resigned because of their differences with the four-person council majority

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Dean Grafos
  • Dean Grafos

As Spokane Valley city councilmen, Dean Grafos and Chuck Hafner repeatedly voiced their opposition to the direction of the Valley under its new city council majority.

Now, they'll have to express their concerns just like any other citizen.

On April 20, Grafos announced that he would resign from the city council. Less than a week later, Hafner announced he would follow suit.

Grafos says the decision to resign had been building ever since the council majority — Mayor Rod Higgins, Deputy Mayor Arne Woodard and councilmen Ed Pace and Sam Wood — voted to force the resignation of City Manager Mike Jackson in February. Grafos and Hafner accused the majority of breaking the law by deciding to fire Jackson before discussing it with the rest of the council. They have called for an independent investigation, but have so far been unsuccessful.

Chuck Hafner
  • Chuck Hafner

The majority members insist they broke no open-meetings laws.

Grafos and Hafner have since refused to attend executive sessions where Jackson's firing would be discussed so that they could keep speaking publicly about the decision. Both have said the majority consistently leaves them out of decisions, and Grafos told the Inlander after his resignation that he resigned after realizing he couldn't make a difference as a councilman.

"You can't reason with these people. It begins to look like it's all about me. And it's not. It's about the citizens of Spokane Valley," he says. "They are so driven by their ideology that it's like talking to a brick wall."

Grafos says he will continue to be involved in council meetings as a citizen. He joined the council in 2009 and was mayor in 2014 and 2015. His current term runs through 2017.

Hafner was appointed to the council in 2011, and his current term runs through 2017. The city is currently taking applications to fill the two vacancies, and a decision is anticipated by the end of June. ♦

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