The field has slimmed from 13 to six.
Now, it’s time for Spokane City Council candidates to get serious.
A candidates forum Friday at the Spokane Chamber of Commerce gave the hopefuls a chance to stress the gaps as well as the links between them.
Each person got five minutes for an introduction, with a beep from the back of the room saying time was up.
Follow-up questions compiled from chamber members got one-minute answers.
Asked where they would find money to balance the city’s 1996 budget, candidates gave the following responses:
Council Position 1:
Roberta Greene: Careful study will show spending areas in every department - including police and fire - that could be trimmed. The key is talking to city employees. She supports privatization, with city departments competing with private companies for city work.
Jim Kolva: He urges talking to neighborhoods about service priorities, talking to employees and department heads about how they can become more efficient. “It’s a partnership.”
Council Position 2:
Incumbent Orville Barnes: Eliminate all but essential travel, cellular phones and education. “They’re nice to have, but we need to get back to basics.”
John Talbott: The city manager should be bringing the council a responsible, balanced budget. “The council’s responsibility is to stay in touch with citizens.”
Council Position 3:
Jeff Colliton: Wants to eliminate the standard 3 percent to 5 percent increase in department budgets each year. Thinks the city’s staff should be reduced by attrition. Supports privatization.
Incumbent Bev Numbers: Supports across the board cuts as opposed to gutting travel and education. Thinks the Community Partners - the council’s committee charged with finding out what services residents most want - will help solve the budget crisis. Thinks “teamwork” is the answer.
Asked what they would do to keep downtown vital, candidates gave the following responses:
Greene: A city is like a spider web with downtown the center. If that falls apart, everything disintegrates. “City government should do everything within its power to help neighborhoods. Downtown is a neighborhood.”
Kolva: Wants to see housing for all income levels downtown. Large retailers are great, but small businesses are critical. “They provide the flavor.”
Barnes: Having a strong retail core is important. Supports public-private partnerships. That type of financing has been criticized, but no one complained when city and state taxpayers paid for traffic improvements around NorthTown Mall.
Talbott: Spokane needs to “redefine downtown,” focusing on three areas: Riverfront Park, the SIRTI campus and Washington Water Power’s steam plant. Believes a science center would be great in the plant. “We need to keep people moving around.”
Colliton: To stay vital, downtown needs businesses, private enterprise and government to get involved. “Empty lots are a welcome sign to derelicts and the homeless - those we don’t want there.”
Numbers: Keeping downtown viable is critical. It “behooves government” to do whatever it can to support downtown revitalization.