As Spokane City Council members, we weigh and prioritize many issues, requests, and concerns that come before us from individual citizens, organizations, city staff, business, fellow council members, and other local, state, and federal officials on a daily basis. It can be a daunting task, but we enjoy our service. We strive to be consistent in our approach, yet responsive to emerging community and individual needs.
The Journal of Business’s opinion of March 13 calls on the Council—and called out certain council members—to stick to the business of the city. In fact, that is exactly what we were doing when we took action recently to reverse a previous decision and take no position on the proposed Spokane Tribe development on the West Plains.
This is, as the Journal states, an issue over which the city has no control. We agree. The city shouldn’t have considered the matter from the very beginning, which is why we reversed the action. The city of Spokane previously hadn’t weighed in on other tribal economic development projects outside our borders, and we shouldn’t have started with this one. Is the Journal really concerned about Council process or using this Council action as an excuse to reiterate its opposition to the tribal project?
There are many issues that arise in our community that might not elevate to the level of Council action. During the last several years, we have corresponded with members of SEIU NW1199, a union that represents workers at Valley and Deaconess hospitals, about concerns regarding staffing levels and difficulties agreeing to a new contract with management. We encouraged these workers, many of whom live and work in our city, to bargain in good faith and continue to work with their management. The letter we sent to the CEOs was a last-ditch effort to encourage labor and management to come together and avoid a two-day strike, a strike that impacted many patients and workers in our city.
As individual Council members, we reach out on behalf of constituents who contact us with their concerns, even if the City has no direct jurisdiction. These aren’t “pet issues.” They are seniors who suffer from poor conditions in a state-funded housing complex, or a neighborhood that needs to coordinate with WSDOT on a safety issue, or a mentally ill veteran who wants an appointment at the VA. While we have no ability to intervene, when necessary we do weigh in individually on behalf of constituents or situations that impact quality of life and the health of the community. We hope all elected officials would do the same.
What is “the business” of a City Councilmember and of the City Council? Our business is to work collaboratively with all partners in the region and to focus on what matters most to our constituents.
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