The long-time leader of the neighborhood group representing downtown filed paperwork last week announcing a run for Spokane City Council.
Gary Pollard, chairman of the Riverside Neighborhood Council, said Monday that he decided to run because the council needs more members who are “more pragmatic” and “more job-oriented.”
He said some council members are too focused on “complete streets” concepts and that he would not support asking voters for a new street bond if it included money for sidewalks.
“That would put too much burden on the taxpayers,” Pollard said.
The city's current 10-year street bond program is limited to “curb-to-curb” paving and street rehabilitation. It funds sidewalks only in limited circumstances.
Supporters of complete streets argue that adding enhancements such as sidewalks along streets not only is essential for people with disabilities, but encourages economic growth because businesses often want to locate in areas with good infrastructure. They point to neighborhoods such as South Perry that have experienced resurgences in recent years after investments were made to support pedestrians.
Opponents argue that the city should focus its money almost entirely on transportation projects that serve mostly cars because that's how most people and businesses get around. The city can't afford to divert money for sidewalks, bike lanes and other “complete street” projects when many streets are crumbling, they say.
Pollard came in fourth in a five-candidate primary for the same council position in 2007. He is competing for a seat held by Bob Apple, who can't run again because of term limits. The other candidates so far are: Donna McKereghan, former chairwoman of the Logan Neighborhood Council; John Waite, the owner of Merlyn's in downtown Spokane; and Chris Bowen, the activity coordinator for a residential treatment center for at-risk youths.
Pollard, 67, said he retired in 1990 after working for about 10 years for the Arizona Department of Revenue as a field investigator focused on white collar crimes. He earlier served in the Army and worked on assembly lines for Chrysler. He moved to Spokane in 1990.
He said he believes the best current City Council member is Steve Corker, who is running this year for council president.