With the first results in the August 2023 Top Two election having landed, candidates in the crowded district-level contests for Spokane City Council can now see where they stand — and so can everyone else! Here’s a look at who is most likely to be moving on to the general election in November.
Spokane elects two members of the council in each of the three districts it has. Currently, in District #1, the seats are held by incumbents Michael Cathcart and Jonathan Bingle. Both Cathcart and Bingle are noted conservatives.
Bingle made waves shortly after his election in 2022 for refusing to abide by the city’s mask mandates. Neither of them attracted more than one challenger, so they are not on the Top Two ballot.
In the contest for Position #1 in the 2nd District, Paul Dillon has jumped out to an early lead, with a plurality of 41.01% of the vote.
As the Vice President of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Washington and Idaho, Dillon has been a fierce proponent of reproductive rights, and has been involved in various community organizations in Spokane, including Pedals2People, Spokane River Clean Up, and Spokane Community Against Racism.
He is also on the board for Greater Spokane Progress and Washington Bus.
Although council positions are officially “nonpartisan,” Dillon has been outspoken in acknowledging his progressive positions. During his campaign, he has earned the endorsements of Andy Billig, Marcus Riccelli, Timm Ormsby, and even the outgoing incumbent councilmember, fourth-generation Spokanite Lori Kinnear, who was unanimously confirmed as City Council President in July (and who, incidentally, made history as Spokane’s first female Council President.)
If elected, Dillon hopes to continue the work he’s done advocating for the homeless, health equity, public transit, and accountability for law enforcement.
In second place is Katey Randall Treloar with 33.31% of the vote.
A teacher in Spokane public schools for nine years, Treloar has helped found the non-profit Bite-2-Go, helping hungry schoolchildren. She is also a small business-owner, the founder of Executive Coaching LLC, a business geared towards helping neurodivergent kids overcome barriers presented by their disabilities.
She has presented herself as a nonpartisan candidate, claiming partisanship is what has divided our politics. Yet despite not embracing partisan politics, her endorsements have largely come from people who identify as conservative.
In her prior run for Spokane District Director in 2019, she advocated for armed resource officers in schools and protested COVID safety protocols. She earned an endorsement from the Spokane Police Guild, a red flag to progressive activists.
In third place is Cyndi Donahue, with 17.17% of the vote. Donahue is a small business owner with plenty of experience in business and community leadership. She created a professional development series “Amplifying Women’s Voices,” working for nonprofit organization Ignite Northwest, and currently serves on the Downtown Spokane Partnership Business Improvement Board.
Like Dillon, she has endorsed Lisa Brown over Nadine Woodward for mayor.
She has been endorsed by the Spokane Democrats and the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington, and, if elected, hopes to work on creating walkable neighborhoods, finding solutions for homelessness, and partnering with regional builders to help build affordable housing.
In fourth place is Mike Naccarato, a purchaser for a shipping container company, who is new to politics. He has 8.26% of the vote.
He has emphasized accessible mental health services, stable housing, increased law enforcement presence, and targeting property crime as platform planks.
Worthy of note has been his tight-lipped responses to questions about how he would approach expanding ombudsman oversight powers. He has stated he wants to “see how things play out first.” He favors boosting funding for law enforcement.
The most likely matchup for the general election is Dillon versus Randall Treloar.
In first place tonight is Kitty Klitzke, with 36.16% of the vote.
Klitzke has a long history in policy work. She is a former Army reserve medic and Americorp worker, and worked for more than a decade with Futurewise, a nonprofit dedicated to creating sustainable living communities. Among her priorities are creating a comprehensive development plan for Spokane and continuing her work in environmental sustainability. She cites creating transit infrastructure alongside new housing as a core need for Spokane.
In second place is Earl Moore, who has 21.58% of the vote.
Moore is a precinct committee officer for the Spokane County Republican Central Committee. Moore differs from her opponents in that she believes the police are being unfairly targeted by calls for investigation into the police chief’s behaviors. Indeed, her vocal support for the police appears to be one of her primary platform planks — she has spoken out against the city council’s decision regarding the ombudsman’s ability to investigate the police chief.
Her campaign has received considerable donations from groups that usually support Republicans, as well as the Washington Association of Realtors.
In third place is Christopher Savage, a lifelong Spokanite, current board president for Spokane Meals on Wheels, and warehouse manager at Project Beauty Share, a nonprofit providing makeup and hygiene products to low-income people.
Savage has 17.43% of the initial vote.
This isn’t his first bid for office in the Lilac City. Savage has run for Spokane City Council three times before, and is a regular at city council meetings. He agrees with Moore that the investigation against Meidl is a “witch hunt.” He has also earned the endorsements of local Republicans like Mike Fagan and Bob Apple.
In fourth place is Esteban Herevia, who has 15.51% of the vote.
Herevia has served as President and CEO of Spokane Pride, helping lead the largest Pride celebration in Spokane’s history, an event that drew over 50,000 people. He currently serves as the Strategist for Health Justice and Belonging at Washington State University’s College of Medicine at their Spokane campus.
His platform planks are rooted in progressive values. He believes in regional solutions to homelessness, police accountability measures, and rolling back policies such as the “Parks After Dark” ordinance, which unfairly criminalizes homelessness. He earned the endorsements of the Spokane County Young Democrats, Washington Conservation Action, and the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund.
In fifth place is Darren McCrea, with 4.45% of the vote.
McCrea’s campaign was memorable, owing to his use of imagery from Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, and phrases such as “With respect and dedication, I’ll rep the population.” McCrea is a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes, and is a long-time cannabis activist. He opened SpoCannabis, the first medical marijuana dispensary in Eastern Washington, in 2003. He advocates for the legalization of psilocybin, as well. Like the Dr. Seuss character, McCrea cares about our trees. He is a proponent for city measures to mitigate climate damage and fortify local forests. McCrea, to date, hasn’t reported raising any money.
In sixth place, with 4.32% of the vote, is Randy McGlenn, a former chair of the Libertarian Party of Washington. McGlenn is currently community assembly representative for the West Central Neighborhood Council.
Other positions he has held include acting as Chair of the East Central Neighborhood Council, Chair of the Community Assembly Administrative Committee, and Chair of the Citizens’ Transportation Advisory Board. McGlenn has emphasized addressing property crime, economic growth, and homelessness.
It’s looking like it will be Moore versus Klitzke this autumn. Klitzke’s first place position is secure. Savage and Herevia are hundreds of votes out of second place and it would be difficult for either of them to catch up to Moore.
The key issues facing Spokane
Times are changing for the Lilac City, and the city’s discourse reflects that.
Spokane is the second largest city in Washington. According to data from the 2020 Census Bureau, Spokane’s population grew by nearly 15% since 2010.
Spokane has, in some ways, always felt like it was trying to be Seattle or Portland’s younger sibling – imitating their aesthetics and lifestyles, but with fewer people and fewer cultural institutions. The boom, it seems, has finally arrived.
But that doesn’t mean Spokane has been prepared for growth. Housing and rental development has lagged behind the influx of people.
In 2021, Spokane had a 1.1% apartment vacancy rate, making apartment hunting a nerve-wracking affair for the average citizen. For those without housing, there are simply not enough shelter beds to meet the community’s needs.
Public safety is also a concern. Spokane’s property crime rate rose nearly 30% in 2022. At the same time, the city has struggled to address problems with its police force. Police Chief Craig Meidl has been accused of inappropriate communications, prompting the Council to authorize the ombudsman to investigate his conduct.
Whoever is elected to govern Spokane this year will play a decisive role in determining the direction the city takes through the remainder of the 2020s.