Candidates for Spokane mayor, city council president discuss homelessness at public forum

As we look forward to November’s election, candidates for city offices continue to share their positions on the issue facing Spokane. Homelessness will take center stage at the downtown Spokane library Thursday morning, an issue that’s dominated much of the campaign discussion.

You can hear ideas from the mayoral and city council president candidates in that forum. A deciding factor for you may be how each candidate plans to handle homelessness in the city.

Homelessness has become the forefront of nearly every conversation in this race leading up to the election.

“The 11,541 homeless people in all of Spokane County. That includes kids that are couch surfing, that are tracked by the school district. This is a much bigger issue than we’ve really wrapped our heads around,” said Maurice Smith, Spokane Homeless Coalition.

Both mayoral candidates are expected to participate in the forum, Nadine Woodward and Ben Stuckart.

“It’s been educating for me to read and watch other things that my opponent said over the last few months,” Stuckart said.

In a statement, Woodward told 4 News Now:

“I look forward to a candid discussion about Spokane’s homeless challenge with many of the organizations, nonprofits and people who work daily with those struggling and need help. We are a very generous and compassionate community that must focus on reducing our homeless population and getting those who are mentally ill and addicted the treatment they need. Effective compassion must also include accountability.”

“She’s not supportive of low-barrier shelters. Which is really disappointing, considering the supreme court case Martin v. Boise has been really clear that if you don’t have enough shelter space, you can’t enforce the camping laws,” Stuckart said.

The candidates for Spokane’s next city council president will also be part of the forum.

“With rising housing prices, because so many people are coming in – there’s a lot of people who are homeless, a lot of domestic violence victims. And then some of those people have substance abuse or some kind of mental health problems that they can’t get treatment for,” said Breean Beggs, one of Spokane’s candidates for city council president.

Beggs said the key point to bring up Thursday morning is how do we figure out who needs what.

“If we’re providing all of that, I think we’ll be able to divide those people who really can survive and do well, and then those people who are just trying to cause problems,” Beggs said.

His opposing candidate, Cindy Wendle, sent us this statement on how she plans to handle the forum:

“Tomorrow’s forum is an important step towards helping our most vulnerable citizens. I look forward to discussing solutions to a problem that has gone unaddressed for too long.”

Each candidate will have an opportunity to answer questions from the audience.

“This is going to be a genuine community issue for several years to come. That’s why it’s important that the average person on the street, they have a vested interest in what takes place,” Smith said.

The forum is taking place at the Spokane library in downtown on the third floor. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. and the forum will start at 9 a.m. The room can only hold up to 300 people, so it’s to your benefit to show up early. Anyone is welcome to attend.

4 News Now will be at the forum Thursday morning. If you want to tune in, we’ll be streaming it on www.kxly.com