SPOKANE CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT CANDIDATES RESPOND TO QUESTIONS

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BEN STUCKART

1) What prompted you to run for City Council President?

I am running for reelection because I want to finish the job we have started. In my first 3 ½ years we have increased library hours, developed a long term plan for our streets and protected the health of our river. Now is the time to focus on working families and economic development.

2) Highlight 3-4 of your qualifications that make you the best candidate for City Council President?

I am a hard working City Council President. I have passed more legislation in my first 3 ½ years than many council members do in 8 years. I have championed working families, the environment and am not afraid of controversy.

3) What is something that you are most proud of and why?

I am proud to stand up for every member of our community. I led the creation of the targeted investment program pilot. Focusing on East Sprague we will have invested over $18 million dollars from 22 different sources when completed.

4) What is your experience with Diversity in Spokane?

I have recently become the Co-Chair of the Spokane Regional Law and Justice Council’s Racial Equity Committee. Since the Council was founded I have pushed for the creation of this committee. The justice is not equitable and we need to fix it.

5) List 2-3 of your priorities if you get elected and how you plan to accomplish them?

I plan on working on increasing Spokane’s Medium Income level. I am on the Airport Board and University District Board. These two organizations are integral to attracting companies that pay living wages. I also plan on replicating the targeted investment we have started on Sprague in other neighborhoods.

6) From the perspective of City Council President, are there ways that Spokane could be more inclusive?

Spokane needs to reduce inequality at all levels. I do not think there is a single system that is not in some way touched by systemic racism. City Council and Council staff are currently undergoing cultural training at my behest and hopefully this leads to a lense of racial equity on all policies that we consider.

7) What do you see as the biggest challenge(s) facing African Americans in Spokane and what are your thoughts on how the challenge(s) could be addressed?

Institutional racism and low incomes are the two biggest challenges I see. We can confront them by using a better framework for viewing policy, attracting high wage jobs for everyone and most importantly creating a community that welcomes everyone. That includes not denigrating undocumented immigrants.

8) In your current role, how have you effectively worked with members of the African American community in Spokane? Do you have current/future ideas or plans for collaborative efforts?

I am chair of the racial equity committee of the Law and Justice Council and hope that working every week with members of the community helps me build bridges and be better.

9) As it relates to diversity, where do you see Spokane in the next ten years?

I see Spokane in ten years as a thriving city that invites everyone in and denigrates none.

10) Why should a person of color vote for you?

I grew up in Spokane, have seen it struggle but also see it blooming. I hope my track record of caring for every member of the community earns me a second a term.

JOHN AHERN

1. What prompted you to run for City Council President?

Due to my increasing concern for the direction the current City Council members were taking the City of Spokane, the need for better planning, organizing and directing required me to run for office. Also, the current president’s irresponsible behavior and lack of professionalism clearly shows a lack of maturity, and indicates a need to attend anger management classes.

2. Highlight 3-4 of your qualifications that make you the best candidate?

As State Representative, I served in the Legislature for 10 years. I am the successful CEO and President of my own local business as well as being a US Army veteran. As an active member of Kiwanis for over 15 years, I served as the Kiwanis Lt. Governor. Formerly, I served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture. I graduated from the University of Denver with a degree in Business.

3. What is something that you are most proud of and why?

While in the Legislature, I became the leading force in obtaining the passage of Washington State’s first felony DUI law that continues to keep citizens safe and save lives. In the first year of implementing the law, 24 lives were summarily saved earning me the prestigious National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) award.

4. What is your experience with Diversity in Spokane?

Personally, I have not experienced nor observed any racial animosity to others.

5. List 2-3 of your priorities if you get elected and how you plan to accomplish them?
Three major issues need to be immediately addressed. Taxes need to be reduced to increase job opportunities and make Spokane an attractive city to relocate. Repair of the city’s infrastructure such as roads especially potholes remains an ongoing project. With over regulation of the business arena, new businesses become reluctant to relocate to the City of Spokane and therefore, nullifying any future jobs, increased revenue and the presence of new businesses. Currently, Spokane maintains an 8% unemployment rate while 20 miles away, Coeur d’Alene, ID maintains a 4% unemployment rate.

6. From the perspective of the City Council, are there ways that Spokane could be more inclusive?

Listening to the people rather than insulting them as is the wont of the current council. Be open to different ideas from different groups. Take a creative approach to solve problems and do not be frightened to think outside the box to arrive at a solution to benefit all concerned.

7. What do you see as the biggest challenge(s) facing African Americans in Spokane and what are your thoughts on how the challenge(s) could be addressed?

The attraction of new businesses and maintaining of jobs and increased entrepreneurship are the biggest challenges. Also, addressing the need for more charter schools is another challenge. The idea of charter schools has proven to be especially beneficial to African American children.

8. In your current role, how have you effectively worked with members of the African American community in Spokane? Do you have current/future ideas or plans for collaborative efforts?

In my sales career, I have worked closely with Percy “Happy” Watkins in a general collaborative effort while being good friends. I plan to integrate the ideas generated by all communities to arrive at solutions that would benefit all concerned.

9. As it relates to diversity, where do you see Spokane in the next ten years?

With an expanded job market and a business-friendly environment, more people of different races will resettle in Spokane. An economically-healthy city will produce benefits for all races.

10. Why should a person of color vote for you?
I am an honest person with integrity. I view a person based on his or her characteristics and attitudes not his or her skin hue. Under the US Constitution, every citizen is guaranteed to be equal and is entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I wholeheartedly believe in these ideas and live my life based on these beliefs.

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