Spokane mayoral candidates discuss homelessness, housing and public safety

All five candidates running to be the next mayor of Spokane met at city hall Tuesday afternoon at a forum hosted by the Spokane League of Women Voters.

Jonathan Bingle, Kelly Cruz, Shawn Poole, Ben Stuckart and Nadine Woodward were asked what their first priorities would be if elected.

Bingle said, “filling my cabinet with a diverse group of people.”

“Addressing our property crime issue and our homeless issue,” said Cruz.

Poole said his top priority was making Spokane safe and secure. “That involves the hard surfaces that we all drive on, that involves the homeless epidemic that we see today,” he said.

Stuckart responded to the question saying, “I think of priorities in terms of our aging population, our youth and our marginalized community.”

Woodward said public safety is at the top of her list. “We have to make out downtown and neighborhoods safer.”

Woodward said a big part of that safety plan is a new response to the homeless crisis.

“If people are committing crimes to fuel their drug habits, and they’re living on the streets in a transient lifestyle, we give them two choices: they go to jail if they have a warrant over their head or they get treatment,” Woodward said.

“We need to make it extremely difficult to be homeless — chronically homeless in Spokane,” Poole said.

“We also unfortunately have a group out there what I title anarchists,” Cruz said. “They just want to live on the street, live the free lifestyle and as soon as it gets hard and tough for them, they’ll be moving onto a different city.”

When the discussion turned to affordable housing, Bingle and Stuckart were at odds.

“We need to be building more affordable housing,” said Stuckart. “800 people in our community in 2018 had housing vouchers and those housing vouchers are just as good as cash, but they couldn’t find affordable housing in order to spend them on.”

“Instead of making more free housing or low income housing what we can do is we can work with the county on the PDAs to help increase the amount of jobs and industries coming to Spokane so that people have more money in their pocket to spend toward housing,” Bingle said.

Of the five candidates currently in the race, only two will make it past the August 6 primary to the November election.

To view the entire forum, click here.

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