4 for 4: Getting to know Spokane City Council candidate Michael Cathcart
Michael Cathcart is a candidate for Spokane City Council in district 1.
Cathcart is the executive director of Better Spokane. He has also served as the director of government affair for the Spokane Home Builders Association and as a legislative aide in the Washington State Senate.
Cathcart holds a bachelor’s of arts degree from Montana State University.
Cathcart answered the following four questions for 4 News Now.
What is the biggest issue currently facing Spokane?
First and foremost, I’m running to represent Northeast Spokane on the Council. A major issue for us is a lack of resources and a culture in City Hall of overlooking and perhaps undervaluing our part of the City despite producing significant portions of tax revenues for the City’s coffers. I’m going to fight for everything we need and I will be an unabashed champion for the District. Now, the biggest issue affecting us and the rest of the city is clearly public safety. I hear this every single day as I knock on doors throughout the District and I’ve had my own frightening experience with it myself. I believe we have a right to live in a safe community, but drug houses are going unabated, calls for service are unable to be responded to in a timely manner, property crimes are still not investigated, neighbors are afraid to let their kids play in the parks without first scanning the grass for needles and many won’t even let their kids play in the front yard. Our law enforcement officers are doing the best they can, but they are lacking in resources and support. I want upwards of 50 more officers on our streets, but bigger than just more officers, I want to change to a proactive neighborhood policing model. Where our officers can patrol smaller areas, exit their cars, get to know neighbors and employers, monitor alleyways, investigate property crimes, and generally have their presence be a deterrent to criminals. We also need to look at lighting in our neighborhoods and in our alleys, we have dark streets that lend themselves to criminal activity. Finally, I’m a supporter of an ombudsman with independent investigatory authority as was approved by 67% of the constituents in my district. I’m a huge supporter of our officers and public trust depends on transparency and oversight.
How should the city approach the homeless crisis?
New York City developed a model of accountability and competition that worked well for them. I’d like to see us do something similar. The solution is ultimately a regional approach, but within that, we should look to incentivize more competition among service providers to ensure the strongest, most successful, and cost effective outcomes for us and for those they are helping. We need to Insert a system of shared responsibility and accountability so that we can truly help those from Spokane who are willing to improve their situation and get from the street to their feet. When you talk to those who have previously experienced homelessness there are three things I hear, they needed tough love, they needed hope, and we have to get the hard drugs off the streets immediately.
What are the potential opportunities of Spokane’s growth? What challenges need to be addressed?
We need more housing to combat the housing crisis. If local builders can produce several thousand new units throughout the region over the next couple years affordability will significantly benefit. The best opportunity is building up our centers and corridors and downtown with more mixed use residential. Not only will that add vibrancy throughout the City, and support our local employers by creating a bigger customer base for them, but activating these areas, especially at night, will help to reduce crime. It’s harder to hide in the shadows when there are fewer shadows. Within our neighborhoods, we need to look at making neighborhood eateries and retailers easier to permit and open where appropriate. I want to champion a small lot ordinance to create housing opportunities for younger home buyers looking to get into the market for the first time and for seniors looking to downsize to something smaller and less expensive.
What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?
I’ve had some amazing experiences throughout my career. I’ve had the opportunity to successfully fight for causes I believe in, to lead in various capacities in our community and to work for some great people who have taught me so much. However, the answer to this one is really easy: Vina.
She is the most brilliant, gentle, loving, and beautiful soul. I’m so incredibly lucky to have her by my side. She keeps me calm even on the most stressful of days and It’ll take the rest of my life to show her how much she means to me. I think our community as a whole is really lucky to have her.
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