Shift’s Newsmaker Interview is with Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward, who is up for re-election after her first term in office. She will be facing Lisa Brown, a liberal career politician and former member of Governor Jay Inslee’s appointed cabinet. In her first race in 2019, Mayor Woodward won by just 848 votes over another liberal career politician, Spokane Council President Ben Stuckart, despite his supporters breaking multiple campaign funding and reporting laws. Lisa Brown had been Gov. Inslee’s Commerce Department Director from early 2019 until she resigned earlier this year, the day before she made her official announcement of her campaign for mayor. In 2022, then-Commerce Director Brown had the Washington State taxpayers fund the moving of her government office from Olympia where the majority of her employees were working to Spokane seemingly in preparation for this campaign.
Prior to running for office, Woodward was a news anchor for Spokane stations KREM and KXLY. She and her husband Bruce have two grown children who recently began their own careers.
In her interview, the mayor discussed her first term in office, including the battles she waged with the Inslee Administration over COVID restrictions and the large homeless encampment on state property misnamed by progressive activists as “Camp Hope.” She outlined the difference between her management abilities and that of her opponent. (The Washington State Auditor investigated the City of Spokane and Brown’s Department of Commerce and gave positive marks to Mayor Woodward while Brown’s report is very troubling.) Mayor Woodward charted her plans to improve housing availability and provided her thoughts on what she will do to improve public safety if she is re-elected.
The past four years in Spokane have definitely been much different than any of us predicted due to outside events. The COVID pandemic brought many challenges to local leaders as state lawmakers drastically altered local leadership’s ability to protect the community. What accomplishments are you most proud of during your very unique first term?
Spokane has come through a lot – together. Presently, thousands of people in our area are facing horrific wildfire dangers and only beginning to process the emotional and property devastation around our region. Shift readers throughout our state and beyond can help by donating to the Red Cross.
Regarding COVID, I have heard uniformly from citizens from across the political spectrum that the governor took COVID emergency executive powers too far, for too long. During the pandemic lockdown, the governor and his cabinet, including my opponent Lisa Brown as his appointed director of the Washington State Department of Commerce, pushed “progressive” policies in the most undemocratic manner. Aggressive legislation ranging from consumer restrictions on how we heat our homes to diminished law-enforcement capacity to keep our children and properties safe were pursued.
And yet, key accomplishments have been achieved in Spokane and were highlighted at my 2022 State of the City Address, including the formation of a Spokane Police Department Violent Crimes Task Force, the next evolution of our homelessness plan, and a partnership to relocate the House of Charity out of downtown as a further move toward a distributed model of homelessness services.
Readers wanting to follow this important campaign in our state’s second largest city can visit www.mayorspokane.com
What do you see as the major differences between your opponent and yourself?
Whereas my opponent, Lisa Brown, is a revolving door, multi-decade career politician who believes in big government and has become a millionaire off the tax-payers; I spent my previous 28-year career in broadcast journalism listening and learning about our local citizens’ hopes, dreams, successes and struggles and told their stories. As mayor, I choose to use citizen trust to continue to listen and learn and affect the outcomes of their evolving stories for the better. I am committed to finishing my first term, and serving a second term with the primary purpose of leaving Spokane in a better position than when I began.
Having quit her politically-appointed job as director of WA Department of Commerce earlier this year, Lisa Brown left Commerce a half-a-billion-dollar accounting fiasco that our State Auditor has flagged as having “material weaknesses” leading to “material noncompliance” regarding federal funding. Conversely, the City of Spokane’s last State Auditor gives me and my accounting team a clean bill of health.
I am committed to collaboration, while my opponent is being promoted by her allies as the crown jewel in their political “trifecta” as strategized by Spokane current candidates Betsy Wilkerson and Paul Dillon.
During the past year the inappropriately named “Camp Hope” encampment on Washington State Department of Transportation property made headlines across the state. Many people believe the events around the encampment clearly demonstrated the differences between approaches to the homeless crisis. What are your thoughts today on your experiences with the Camp Hope problem?
“Camp Hope” was a State-supported and sustained political protest organized by a political activist. Governor Inslee and Lisa Brown used our tax dollars to fund this state-protected, drug-fueled protest that proliferated prostitution and violent crimes, while holding a neighborhood and our whole region hostage.
What do you believe are the long-term solutions to homelessness in Spokane?
As mayor, I am a leading partner of long-term solution seekers, working to establish the Spokane Regional Collaborative, a shared-responsibility approach with the goal of addressing homelessness based on proven models in a manner that maximizes our unique strengths and opportunities, while mitigating our unique challenges.
Spokane has a very severe housing shortage. What can the city do to increase the city’s (and region’s) housing supply?
In the midst of a housing crisis, over the past days hundreds of regional homes have been reduced to ashes. While immediate dangers are at the forefront of my mind, rebuilding is already emerging as a priority.
Beyond the fires, the Spokane housing available inventory has been an issue since The Great Recession. I am opposed to Spokane City Council “supermajority” policies that deter homebuilding and make housing providers reluctant to rent.
During my tenure, Spokane has seen the largest growth in multi-family units since at least 2005. We need to build homes that are available to people from all walks of life. Increasing rungs on the “housing ladder” as it is sometimes referred to allows growing families to move into larger homes and older citizens to downsize. This is only possible if we invest heavily in housing and decrease barriers to building.
Crime continues to be a problem throughout the state after the Democrats in the Washington State Legislature caved into the radical demands of Seattle rioters and passed anti-police legislation in 2021. There have been some modifications to state laws (especially regarding drug possession). What more does the legislature have to do to help make our communities safer? And what should the city do to increase public safety?
I personally lobbied legislators during this past Spring special session to pass a bi-partisan bill to address flaws in the “Blake” decision and police pursuit policies. That effort included bringing together 27 other mayors to sign my letter of support for the bill that was ultimately passed. Recently, I pushed for the passage of local laws to ban open drug use in Spokane. As mentioned above, our Spokane Police Department’s Violent Crimes Task Force and Special Investigations Unit continues to seize illicit fentanyl and weapons bring criminals to justice.
I am a proponent of our Spokane County Ballot Measure 1 that will fund a new and desperately needed criminal justice center that will create more space to humanely hold habitual criminals while expanding our police force and critical programs like Veterans’, Community and Drug Courts.
What’s lost on my opponent as she opposes the proposition is all the above advantages, plus the thousands of hours of living-wage jobs that will go to local building trades workers as they build the facility.
For more information on the Woodward campaign, please visit its website.