City Council District 1 Forum

City Council District 1 Forum


on behalf of the League of Women Voters
of the Spokane area in Spokane City cable 5 welcome to our 2019 general
election candidate forum featuring candidates for City Council District one
position one for the city of Spokane we also welcome khq-tv who is live
streaming this event I am Ann Murphy your moderator and Sally Phillips of the
league is our timer the general election is Tuesday November 5th 2019 in this
forum the candidates will have an opportunity to present themselves to you
the voters and the voters will have an opportunity to learn more about each
candidate before they cast their ballots the questions I will be asking have been
formulated by the league’s voter service committee the candidates are seated in
alphabetical order and the first speaker will rotate with each question
candidates will have up to one minute to answer our initial question and then up
to 90 seconds to answer subsequent questions with additional time for
rebuttal or follow-up question as appropriate each candidate will have the
opportunity for a one-minute closing statement
I will ask as many questions as time allows our timer will hold up a yellow
card when the speaker has 15 seconds remaining and a red card when time is up
now before we proceed a reminder about voting you must be registered in order
to vote you can register online by October 28th 2019 up to eight days prior
to Election Day any mail-in or paper forms must be received in the elections
office by October 28th and new this year is same-day voter registration during
the eight days prior to Election Day there will be two places where you may
register in person the Spokane County Elections Office at 10:33 West Gardiner
in Spokane or Center place 24:26 North discovery place in Spokane Valley hours
are Monday through Friday 8:30 to 4 and 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on election day
when you register you will be provided a ballot for voting other new registration
changes are automatic voter registration when says eligible citizens interact
with state agencies and then pre-registration that allows 16 17
year-olds to pre register to vote and then they will be registered when they
turn 18 registered voters will receive their mail-in ballots about three weeks
prior to Election Day returned ballots must be postmarked and make sure that it
will be postmarked in time or deposited in conveniently located ballot boxes no
later than 8 p.m. on Election Day November 5th ballots can be dropped off
on Election Day at one of the voters service centers for locations of ballot
boxes or voter service centers or information on accessible voting units
or other questions you may have about casting your ballot contact the Spokane
County Elections Office for seven seven two three two zero contact for
information for the candidates as well as voter guides can also be found at the
Spokane County Elections office additional election information can be
found at the state website vote wha gov and on the League of Women Voters online
voter guide site vote for one one.org and now we meet the candidates for City
Council District one position one this is a non partisan race and only the
voters in the city of Spokane will be District one will vote that district is
generally the northeast portion of the city generally north of i90 and east of
division joining us today are Tim Ben and Michael Cathcart welcome candidates
you will have up to one minute to answer our first question and we’ll begin with
mr. Ben on that question what do you consider are the most important duties
of a City Councilmember and what specific training experience and skills
do you have that have prepared you for these responsibilities you have one
minute mr. Benn yeah thank you for putting on the debate League of Women
Voters or the forum I think the most important thing is representing the
citizens of the district focusing on their issues fielding their complaints
showing up to their home or business when they have issues and helping them
navigate the city and look at the city’s ordinances and operations to make sure
that you serve the citizens well and if there’s need for change make the change
so you can accommodate what the citizens need to accomplish thank you mr.
Cathcart yeah and thank you the league for hosting this forum just to start off
I really think the most important role for the the City Council as a whole is
to ensure high quality of life and we do that by investing in public safety our
roads our infrastructure setting a budget that’s fiscally responsible and
planning carefully for future growth I think those are kind of the the keys for
the City Council but in this position specifically I think the role really is
to fight for northeast Spokane we have a culture I think in City Hall that
doesn’t necessarily see northeast boquete in the same light as our other
two council districts and so I think the role of the city council member from
Northeast Pocan is to fight like hell for the district for the people and make
sure that we are getting the investments and the resources that we really require
in district one that’s really important and so that’s something that I fully
intend to fight for okay thank you both of you now we’ll move into some other
questions and we’ll take up to 90 seconds for these our first question
expands on where you have started mr. Cathcart to what extent have each of you
taken actions to familiarize yourself with the specific issues important to
the residents in your district and based on these actions what are the three most
important issues in your district and what specific steps will you take to
address them yeah oh my gosh well that’s a lot you know I mean where do you start
a door Belling doorbell hang and more door Belling would be a very big part of
that talking to as many sit that live in the neighborhoods in the
district attending as many neighborhood council meetings as I can as many
community gatherings meeting with our law enforcement officers meeting with
city administration officials just making sure that I understand kind of
what the the needs of the city as a whole are but specifically the needs of
the constituents in Northeast Polk can and and it’s very easily I hear the same
three there’s often a force that’s added on this from most of the doors that I
visit most of the people I talk to and that is Public Safety its homelessness
and it’s our roads and infrastructure and sometimes housing is a fourth one
that’s included as I’m going door to door so those are the big ones that
folks are talking about they’re really concerned about and especially in our
part of town they want to make sure the resources are there to actually deploy
those officers to actually fix our roads to actually do something about some of
the illegal camping that’s taking place to make sure that we’re supporting those
who are experiencing homelessness but doing it in a way that’s keeping our
community safe okay thank you mr. Benn that was a mouthful of a question can
you repeat I want to make sure I answer every aspect to what extent have you
taken actions to familiarize yourself with the issues important to the
residents in your district and then based on those actions what are the
three most important issues in your district and what specific steps will
you take to address them well I’ve lived in the district pretty much my whole
adult life my wife and I got married in the district we raised our children
there we’ve served hundreds of families and children with our childcare business
over the last two decades we bought when we bought our property there and so
we’re familiar with the issues and the people already just being a longtime
residents and and I hear a lot of the same things that he addressed there but
really the homeless issue is a drug issue as far as we can see in our
district and and my police ride-along that was a begging issue is how do we
deal with the drug czar on the streets I took an overnight trip with the officer
talked to citizens while we were on police calls and that is their their
main concern is Public Safety property crime
the drug abuse and of course the condition of our streets in the city of
Spokane we have sixty miles of unimproved roads I happen to have a dirt
road next to my house so the majority those are in Northeast Spokane
okay thank you do either let’s go 30 more seconds if you have anything more
to say or rebut here mr. Cathcart no I think it’s it’s it’s exactly what I said
and the way we get there is we we take a chisel to the budget I mean we take a
scalpel we make sure that we are fixing every we’re removing every bit of waste
from that budget and making sure that we’re reprioritizing those resources to
law enforcement we’re adding more accountability into the programs that we
have for supporting homelessness and quite frankly we need a 20 year
residential street maintenance program and that’s a big one because our
residential streets are falling apart our sidewalks are falling apart and we
got to do something about that right now okay thank you mr. BIMM I think there’s
money that’s in the budget that’s getting left on the table when it comes
to Northeast Spokane and the 2019 approved projects for the
traffic-calming which would be signals which I fought for school safety lights
for several years we finally got them installed at Cooper elementary and and
there’s money left on the table 2019 there was four hundred and fifty
thousand dollars allotted to the Northwest district five hundred and
sixty-five thousand to the South Hill and only forty five thousand allotted to
Northeast Spokane so we need to make sure that we’re getting the funding that
we’re putting in back out and into projects okay thank you all right
we’re going to go into you’ve both brought up the point about the homeless
and housing and related to all of this is the fact that we have a prokta it’s
reported that Spokane has approximately 350 what I don’t as zombie houses spread
throughout the city these houses greatly impact the quality of life in our
neighborhoods how prevalent is this problem in your district and our
existing ordinance is adequate to address it if not what changes are
needed what procedural steps could be improved upon and
start with you mr. bin yeah I think that a lot of houses actually there is a in
the Northeast District Chief Gary Park area especially we’re seeing a lot of
houses being rehabilitated which is a positive sign I think we need to be
really active with our code enforcement as far as are those properties just
being used by large out-of-state banks as tax write-offs we need to get back
into use so families can live in them we have a shortage of housing so we
definitely need to encourage the rehabilitation and currently our city
has less code enforcement per capita than most cities our size and so I think
we need to look at addressing how we’re going to move those houses back into use
and how are we going to make them affordable
so I know that we have a number of programs snap has worked on real
rehabilitation we need to make sure we continue those efforts and help the
small contractors get a leg up because right now the big developers are the
ones that are getting the incentives okay mr. Cathcart yeah you know in 2018
the Washington State Legislature passed HB 2057 which basically gave the city
the ability to start taking care of these zombie home properties and as I’m
out talking to neighbors and door Belling I’m seeing a lot of these zombie
homes that are not being taken care of and that’s the fault of code enforcement
and I think we need to make sure that we are either investing in or or passing
policies that is encouraging our code enforcement officials to actually go out
and deal with these problem homes because they’re a blight on the
community they create a safety hazard one that I visited a couple of weeks ago
was in the exact same shape although a little worse off now about 60 days after
I visit it the first time and come to find out that there had been some people
camping in the basement they broke in the back door but nobody was doing
anything and folks had reported it to the city but there had been zero
response and so we just need to make sure that we are actually complying with
the laws that are on the books following through on those things and when we’ve
got state laws that back up the ability to do some of the things that we need to
do that we’re taking full advantage of that okay thank you
one more question related to or housing there’s a lot of discussion
about affordable housing in our community and much of it is centered on
incentives to increase the supply of housing and access to it by low-income
individuals and families can you address the other side of the equation
ie are there barriers regulatory or otherwise that exist in Spokane that are
impacting this development of more affordable housing units and as a city
council member what specific steps would you support to address any of these
issues yeah you know we we have an urban comprehensive plan but we have a
suburban code and that needs to change we need to make it easier to build more
density around our centers and corridors more density downtown we have a lot of
opportunities for more residential more mixed-use you know we can do some some
really interesting things with new types of products townhomes single families
duplexes triplexes but the issue is we we have I think a current council that
isn’t so in favor of growth and so it’s very limited as to where you can build
and how you can build and there’s just too many restrictions that we have to
get passed I really want to champion a small law ordinance to allow us to build
on smaller footprints we’re gonna have to build taller in certain areas of town
and I think because ultimately we need about seven to ten thousand more units
very quickly and so we are gonna have to make sure that the investments are being
made to allow that to take place and in some parts of the town of the city you
know we need to extend utilities we need to look at some things like that and so
we’re gonna have to investigate more options as to where you can build around
the city okay mr. Ben I think it’s a great question and I see many vacant
lots around the city that could have homes on them and families living in
them and the reason why they’re not being developed is our codes are too
strict I know a plumber who was working on the Northside of Spokane right at the
City County line the homes were built by the same developer had a common plumbing
problem but the cost in one home was hundreds more dollars than the other
home because we’re we’re discharging too much for many of the the permitting and
the processes we need to clean them up make them easier especial
for the small contractor the larger developers looking for larger lot sizes
mostly out in the county I think to do the infill that we want to see happen in
the city and have building that matches the neighborhoods where there are vacant
lots whether they’re a house burned down years ago or whether it was never
developed we need to incentivize those smaller builders that will build one or
two homes in those locations and and the other issue we have is condominiums some
folks don’t want a home to themselves single-family residence but would like
to be an owner and have the pride in ownership and we need to ask the state
to change the condominium codes so we like to make it easier for local
developers okay thank you property crime continues to plague many
Spokane neighborhoods please discuss the extent of property crime and its impacts
in your district what specific actions would you as a councilmember take to
help address the property crime problem and mr. Ben we’ll start with you this
will be 90 seconds well in many cases we can link property crime directly to the
drug epidemic that we’re seeing people are stealing to get their drugs I think
that we need to emboldened to protect their property and give them more tools
to do so we need to look at more of the community policing model and work with
neighborhoods and block watch and get with our neighborhood resource officers
another thing I think we need to do is currently in the ride-along I learned
from law enforcement that we are taking a citywide approach north of the river
and south of the river for the nighttime shifts the NRO’s do daytime shifts but
at night is where we have the car prowlers we need to go back to where
they’re working a beat so that the people in the community know who their
officer is they know that they’re going to be around the corner and the people
that are terrorizing those communities with property crimes will also know that
that officer is somewhere in the neighborhood around the corner so if I
think if we do that we will deter the behavior but I think we need to go after
the drug dealers and and the flow of drugs into our city that is getting
people into these lifestyles where they are stealing to feed their habits Thank
You mr. Cathcart yeah absolutely what the first
we have to do is we have to invest in 50 new officers we do not have enough
police officers to do what we need to do and the neighborhood policing model that
Tim just referenced has been the idea that I’ve been championing since the
beginning of this campaign and I think the importance of that is it enables us
to get our officers on the streets walking through the alleyways getting to
know the neighbors the employers they can identify anybody and anything that’s
out of place and I think people just feel safer they feel like if they call
the police there’s a presence and somebody can actually respond to that
call the second thing and specifically to your question about property crime
there’s a few things we can do quite easily actually one is just improved
lighting in our neighborhoods the lighting is terrible in some of
these neighborhoods if you go to Minnehaha there’s one street that’s a
newer street and there’s lighting all over the place it’s nice and lit up you
go one block over and it’s an older Street and its pitch black at night you
can’t see anything and the neighbors are really frustrated about that and so we
need to start addressing those types of issues and we also need to do an
emphasis on reporting crime I think there’s been a lot of folks who’ve just
simply stopped reporting and if we would emphasize that I think we’d see our
crime rates skyrocket let’s we can do a rebuttal here you – 30 seconds mr. Benn
yeah I think we do need to get people reporting the crime but they’ve given up
unless it’s something they’re gonna file on an insurance claim because we don’t
have any enforcement and we don’t have any investigation and we need to go back
to the model we had that was similar to ROTC where we had students working
towards becoming law enforcement doing property crime investigation and getting
the training working with the public and if we can go back to do that then we’ll
have the officers in the shoot and ready to go through the Academy and it takes
about a year to get an officer on the street and that’s why I supported the
Public Safety levees because I know it’s harder and harder to find officers
willing to do the difficult job they do and I think we need to create a pipeline
to do that okay Thank You mr. Cathcart yeah the
other thing I think we really have to focus on are these chronic nuisance
homes and you know we’ve got laws on the books that allow the city to kind of
declare an emergency and take action much quicker than they are doing now and
a lot of this goes back to law enforcement having the resources to
watch these homes and identify what activities are taking place and so part
of investing more in law enforcement is being able to take care of these
nuisance homes I mean we have so many drug homes so many bike chop shops and
just various things like that all over North East Spokane and neighbors have
been dealing with these things for years and the city just will not do anything
and so those are the things that we are gonna have to pay some really close
attention to and actually follow what title 10 and the SMS in our city code
says because it gives us the ability to take care of these issues okay thank you
now I want to go to something very specific to your district when completed
the North Spokane corridor will bisect your district so please give us your
insights into this and what the city is doing or could be doing to mitigate the
impact on the neighborhoods and residents in your in your complete
district 1 we’ll start with you mr. Cathcart yeah well one thing I’m really
excited about is the Ponderosa pine opportunity which I brought up actually
in our last debate and I think Larry stone and and the Lands Council are
partnering really well together on this it’s a great philanthropy project for
Larry and it’s gonna enable him to plant a number of these ponderosa pines along
the freeway there to help create a sound barrier as well as just beautify the
area and so I think that’s really kind of a smart thing to do they’re really
inexpensive they don’t require a lot of maintenance and upkeep they kind of
maintain themselves and so we should really be looking at those sorts of
items and other design standards as well I think around the city but as far as
the freeway goes yeah we’re going to be very careful to make sure that we’re not
bisecting neighborhoods and in a negative way and I think so far the
planning that I’ve seen they there’s been a lot of emphasis on avoiding those
sorts of issues and so I’m actually thinking that it’s gonna look really
really well it’ll be really well done once it’s completed ok mr. ban yeah I
live in the Minnehaha neighborhood on the other side of the the abyss is what
we call it and it’s the north-south freeway we’re all excited to have it
done and quickly would be nice this last year was a nightmare in Minnehaha
getting in and out while the Euclid corridor was closed
we had three to five accidents per day on side streets semi traffic traveling
down residential streets I’m the chair of Minnehaha Council I had been
approaching City Hall and City Council and the planners for three years asking
for them to do some fixes on roads we had over a thousand cars a day on on a
dirt road next to people’s homes they were covered in dust literally all
summer long this summer there was a lack of planning a huge lack of planning for
the for the neighborhoods the other thing I’m working on is the Neighborhood
Council Chair is because of this huge piece of infrastructure you create when
it’s done so I don’t want to sound impatient because I don’t want to get in
the way at all but we do need a plan around this piece of infrastructure
they’ve tore down all the homes but the neighborhood council districts didn’t
change so I’m working on getting the neighborhood council districts to move
their boundaries so they make sense with the piece of infrastructure coming in
the north-south corridor okay thank you let’s see let’s go back to the traffic
calming I think mr. ban you mentioned the different amount of funds that you
your term was allocated to each of the the districts is it an allocation or are
they not requesting the funds and what more could we do to get the kinds of
things you’re seeing needed in district one will do mr. Benn and then mr.
Cathcart will take this one at about a minute
so again the traffic calming funds are there funds that come in from the speed
light cameras and the school’s own cameras there’s a lot of let money being
left on the table and being diverted is what I’m hearing is gonna happen with
the money if it’s not used again 450,000 in the Northwest district five hundred
and sixty-five thousand on the South Hill and northeast bow can only got
forty five thousand there’s a big problem with this program in this
program it hinges on volunteers and as a neighborhood leader I’ve been told that
we can’t use this money to fix sidewalks we can’t use this money for this we
can’t we were told no on school safety lights for six years that’s a major
piece of infrastructure to keep children safe especially
the north-south freeway is dumping off on Freya and the school is there on two
main arterials we need to solve this problem for the citizens we need a
broaden how the money can be spent in the district and and citizen volunteers
are not planners they’re not engineers the city needs to help these
neighbourhoods figure out what needs to be done and how they can use this money
and that’s not currently happening in the Northeast district we’re ignored and
we’re told we can’t and Spokane needs to say we can ok mr. Cathcart yeah this is
just another example of where North East Spokane is just being overlooked and
ignored I mean to mention the the dollars that we’re not getting and
that’s ridiculous and if I were on the city council people would hear from me
on that there’s no way in hell I would allow that to take place in my district
and I think that’s part of the problem we need some people that are willing to
stand up and fight fight for what is ours in Northeast Polk and this is
really important I would actually take and I would broaden the program I think
we got to look for some additional funding but I want to take those dollars
and I’d pick it and put into a bigger program that focuses on residential
street maintenance we need a 20 year residential street maintenance program
every year we do redo 5% of the streets keep it up
make sure those streets are good and that’s really really important and part
of that can be sidewalks part of that can be traffic calming but the point is
we need a residential maintenance program and this is a good source of
funds to start but we need to grow that pot and so we have to look for some
other sources as well but this is gonna be really important if we’re gonna see
these positive investments being made in our community ok real quickly I want to
do a 60 second one here and what do you like most about Spokane what makes it
special and is there something what would you change other than the things
we’ve already talked about mr. Cathcart 60 seconds you know I just love how it’s
the old slogan that we don’t use anymore you know near nature near perfect I
think it’s it’s true then it’s true today I really wish it was still our
slogan I think it makes the most sense for us anywhere in the city you’re
pretty much 10 minutes from some sort of a natural area where you can hike and
swim and just enjoy our natural wonders you know I think we’ve got some great
amazing wonderful people amazing business owners you know northeast Pocan
it’s just full of amazing small businesses
and I just I love every aspect of our community in that way what I would
change is I think we need a Cheesecake Factory and so I would love to see us
have a Cheesecake Factory move in and and if that happened in my term I’d be
pretty happy about that okay mr. Benn well I happen to like cheesecake but I’m
not sure that’s something city council can work on so but I do think that
Spokane’s a great place I was born here raised here my wife and I got married in
the district in North East Spokane I’ve covered I think almost every street in
the city on my bicycle growing up and we have a wonderful City to explore a
wonderful region it doesn’t it’s not a large city where you feel like it takes
all day to get across town you’re pretty close to where you need to be but we’re
large enough they have all the things you know we have a great health care
presence we have great services so we have a lot of opportunities and I think
that I would start fixing government services being more accessible to the
people where the people feel like they live in Spokane instead of Spokane’s
because we can do this we can start solving some of these problems we can
fix streets we just need to make it easier in the process for citizens to
engage with city government one of the things I’d like to see happen is a more
welcoming City Council more testimony from citizens and being inviting to the
hear their concerns okay thank you and now we’re going to move to your
one-minute closing and we’ll start with you mr. BIMM one minute closing I’m your
Spokane City Council candidate for district 1 I know the district I’ve
lived in the district for decades I’ve served the served the citizens there I
just want to keep on serving in the capacity that will bring more funds into
the district I want to fix some roads especially the dirt roads and I want to
make sure our children are safe going to and from school so please go to vote in
Bend comm Bend for Spokane on Facebook get involved in your community and help
us out okay Thank You mr. Cathcart yeah I’m Michael Cathcart and I’m
running for Spokane City Council because I think we have a culture in City Hall
that just overlooks our northeast city council district I think we need some
common-sense leadership we need a change we need to upend the status quo and
and really truly represent the people in our in our community I’m really proud to
have some really key endorsements sheriff ozzie knez ovitch commissioners
al French and Josh Kearns our Secretary of State Kim Wyman just endorsed me the
other day and I’m so appreciative to have their support and endorsement but
I’ll tell you what the endorsement and support that I am like more than than
happy to have are from folks like Bonnie in the Whitman neighborhood who has drug
houses nearby and the city won’t do anything about it so she has to live
every day arm to make sure that folks that are that are coming through
stealing things dealing drugs are not harming her you know I’m really
excited to have people like Tiffany and Nevada Heights who are registering to
vote for the very first time because they’re just really excited about the
message that we’re sharing and so I think we can do some great things please
visit vote kathcart calm I would really truly appreciate your
vote thank you thank you and thank you to our candidates for position one in
district 1 for the City Council position this concludes our primary election
candidate for these candidates they were Tim Ben and Michael Cathcart and in case
you joined us after the program began here’s a reminder about voting in the
election you must be registered to vote you can register online by October 28th
up to eight days prior to the election an email in our paper forms must be
received in the elections office by October 28th and this year new same-day
voter registration during the eight days prior to the election day there will be
two places where you may register in person the Spokane County elections off
office and at center place in Spokane Valley hours are Monday through Friday
8:30 to 4:00 and then 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day when you register you
will be provided a ballot for voting other voter registration changes our
automatic voter registration when eligible citizens interact with state
agents and a pre-registration process for 16 17
year-olds registered voters will receive their mail-in ballots about three weeks
prior to Election Day ballots must be postmarked or deposited in conveniently
located ballot boxes no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day ballots can be
dropped off on Election Day at the voter service centers for locations of ballot
boxes or voter service centers or information about accessing voting units
or other questions about casting your ballot contact the Spokane County
Elections Office 4 7 7 2 3 2 0 or find them on the web contact information for
candidates as well as voter guides can also be find on the website of the
Spokane County Elections Office additional election information can be
found at the state website vote wahhhh gov and on the League of Women Voters
online voter guide at vote for one one org on behalf of the League of Women
Voters of the Spokane area thank you to all of the candidates for your
participation in this forum and thank you to your viewing on to our viewing
audience for the willingness to learn more about these candidates and their
issues we hope that this forum has helped you in making an informed
decision when you cast your ballot by Tuesday November 5th 2019 thank you for
joining us you

Danny Hutson

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