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As a Spokane City Councilmember, I have led the charge to listen better to our community and solve the challenging problems our city by working together. While on the Council, we have improved our streets by fixing them faster and funded 24 new police officers making our entire community safer.
I have served on City Council for over three years, and have seen first-hand what the Council does well and the areas where it can grow. On the Council, I have chaired the Public Infrastructure Committee for the past two years and currently serve as City Council President Pro Tem. I was the Executive Director for the Center for Justice in Spokane for six years and am one of the Managing Partners of a law firm with over 30 employees. Finally, I co-founded the Spokane Smart Justice criminal reform movement and represented Otto Zehm’s family, which led to substantial police reforms in Spokane.
My vision for Spokane is that all residents share in the growth and vibrancy we have started to see in our Downtown and other neighborhood business centers. In my potential eight years of service I would like to see the other 50% of our arterials rebuilt, adequate affordable housing spread throughout the city, and a criminal justice system that reduces crime and reclaims lives. Our public development authorities in Hillyard, the University District and the West Plains will be fully built out with family wage jobs so Spokane will be considered the most livable city in the Northwest.
Divisions between people and a low adult median income are the chief obstacles to Spokane becoming the most livable city in the Northwest. Too often we remain divided by geography, political views, religion, race and income in Spokane. Council President is a non-partisan position responsible for building consensus among the Council and the people in order to move forward. Funds for the basic government services that residents depend on are limited by the lack of overall money in our community. However, local government can serve as a catalyst for private investment and propose innovative strategies that community members can invest in via the ballot box.
The City’s first responsibility is to prepare a resiliency plan to protect our residents and operations from a changing climate in Spokane whether it be wildfire smoke, drought, or windstorms. The City can also lead in changing practices that will save money and reduce greenhouse gases. City Council’s responsibility is to provide innovative options for our residents based on the expertise of our various public works departments. The Council is currently focusing on water conservation programs, and has brokered an agreement with Avista to provide 100% renewable electricity by 2030.
Spokane’s street maintenance program was underfunded for decades but is now catching up due to innovative staff and the peoples’ ’ decision to provide extra funding in a street bond. Many of our sidewalks are also in disrepair. In the three years I have been on Council we have spent the most money on street repairs in Spokane history. I enacted a program that will start paving unpaved roads and have led efforts to dramatically increase the amount of money spent on sidewalk repairs, especially along safe routes to school. I have also supported the Council’s recent efforts to provide extra infrastructure investments in our public development authorities which encourages businesses to relocate to Spokane.
The most impactful response to homelessness is building more affordable housing and providing temporary low barrier shelter to those currently camped outside. I voted to change land use laws so that private developers can build substantially more housing in the City, especially near Centers and Corridors. Over time this will decrease the cost of housing or at least slow the rate that it increases. In the short term, the City needs to restore 24/7 shelter space and services so that our downtown is not flooded with homeless people every day. I also support sending our newly deployed rapid response team to illegal encampments, but that will only work if we have alternative shelter space for them. We currently also have a shortage of drug and alcohol treatment spaces for those struggling with addiction, though the majority of those struggling with addiction are not homeless.
Cities should stay out of the way of federal immigration agents doing their jobs as long as they follow the law. The role of our local police is to ensure the safety of residents and solve crimes. Calls for the police to do anything beyond this, including acting as immigration agents make our city less safe. I support our police who have requested that they not be requisitioned to work on federal immigration enforcement because it interferes with their work protecting victims of human trafficking and they are already fully engaged with solving local property crime. I supported the City Council’s passage of an ordinance to protect our officers and protect all of our communities from being subject to unconstitutional searches of private spaces. In passing those ordinances, Spokane is following the guidance of the United States Supreme Court, which has held that the federal government can’t force local police to do their work and that the Border Patrol can’t invade private spaces.
The City Council continues to expand its electronic communication via email, websites, TV 5, social media and e-Newsletters. My favorite mode of communication is attending monthly Neighborhood Council meetings throughout the 29 districts in the City. Hearing from people who care enough to attend these meetings, getting their ideas and understanding a more detailed version of what is happening is a unique aspect of Spokane. Additionally, I believe the city should expand on its use of social media to build support, pride and enthusiasm around new projects and programs as well as opportunities for community engagement like online surveys and comments.
Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
Work: Insurance sales, Retail banking branch manager, Commercial property asset and property management.
Volunteer: Junior League of Spokane, Leadership Spokane, Pullman Regional Hospital Foundation, WSU Elson S Floyd College of Medicine Admission Committee, Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery Trustee.
Effective leadership is essential for not only the success of our Council, but for the success of our city. The skills necessary to be that type of leader, and ones I have worked hard to obtain, are listening, building consensus, lifting people up to achieve their best work, gathering resources, creating a vision and communicating. I was hired by a bank to open and manage 3 branches, with very little experience. By utilizing my leadership skills, I led a team to achieve this goal. I was recognized by the bank, after only 2 years, with their Exceptional Leadership Award for my efforts. Being a mom of three boys has also been one of my greatest accomplishments. The experiences I have enjoyed being alongside them as they navigate life have taught me the importance of organization, accountability, compassion and love.
Spokane has the abilty to be the city of choice for anyone wanting to live in the Northwest. We can offer almost anything to someone looking for adventure, recreation, shopping, performing arts, healthcare or gourmet dining options. We are truly lucky. We need to remember this every day as we discuss the impact of policies on our resources, citizens and businesses.
Bringing people together and building consensus is a major challenge to moving ideas forward. I will work to find what we have in common first, then we approach the differences. Ineffective negotiation can stall great ideas. I have always found myself surpassing goals if everyone on the team feels heard, valued and appreciated. We won't all get what we want. My vision is we become so good at engaging everyone in our decision making, that even if someone doesn't agree with a policy, they understand the need for it and trust leaders to do what is right for Spokane.
Our city council should work with our internal partners to better educate our citizens on how to use less, recycle more and understand the impact of wastefulness on our natural resources.
Although large projects are being funded and completed, the basics seem to be forgotten. Many roads within the city limits are still unpaved,and large potholes sit for weeks unattended to (meanwhile damaging our vehicles). As Spokane grows, we will need to make tough decisions about what our overall strategy will be for commute and special trip transportation.
I will reach out to other communities who are having success decreasing the number of homeless on their streets and share those good ideas with a regional team of stakeholders. Spokane needs to abandon it's position of doing everything on it's own and not needing the help of the county. To address this complex program, Spokane is going to need help and the support of all of our partners. Addressing the drug addiction and mental health crisis is a key component. Enforcing the law will help us create the safe town our citizens are begging for, and it will connect those who need help to services.
As a city government, it is our responsiblity to enforce the law. We need to recognize that our law enforcement team is an incredible tool for our community to show compassion, understanding and grace. For legal immigrants, Spokane should feel like home the moment they arrive. We should welcome them home and help them find jobs, raise their families and get connected to our community.
Good communication is the center of all success. Informed citizens keep cities on track, they teach us about new issues and views, and are the best cheerleaders for communities. Technology has enabled us to find information with the touch of a button. Putting the information into a story with trend analysis and feedback is a job only people can accomplish, however. I propose having someone with the city staff supervise information shared about our city goals and highlighting our progress. I would like to create a better website experience for citizens when they need something from the City Council, and also an app for phones and tablets. Stronger relationships with the local media are a very important piece to our long term success. We will work together to bring light to local issues.