Incoming Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart promised Wednesday during his swearing in ceremony to help City Hall become a happier place for the people who are being served by it.
He said he wants citizens to feel comfortable appearing at council meetings on matters they deem important.
“City Council Chambers will be turned into a welcoming environment,” he said, calling for an era of openness.
Nearly 200 people gathered in the auditorium of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, where Stuckart had served as vice president of the board of trustees until he recently resigned in preparation for taking office.
It was clear his supporters and well-wishers are eager for him to take over leadership of what has often been a contentious City Council in the past. They delivered several rounds of enthusiastic applause before and after his short speech.
Stuckart said he will seek collaboration in his first term in city office. He acknowledged the presence of another City Hall newcomer, Mayor-elect David Condon.
“I’m excited to work with Mayor-elect Condon who is here today,” he said.
“I look forward to creating and implementing a shared vision of Spokane.”
In that vision, the need for human services, parks and the arts should not be neglected, Stuckart said.
He called for revitalized neighborhoods that can become magnets for people who are drawn to city life.
The city needs to make sure it delivers the basic services such as streets without potholes and a police force that residents can respect, he said.
The museum was clearly a symbolic location for taking the oath, a reminder of the need to learn from the past, Stuckart said.
Spokane tribal elder Jim SiJohn, during an invocation, recalled the deeper history of the city where Native Americans had gathered and lived over time.
Stuckart, a native of Spokane, graduated from Lewis and Clark High School and Gonzaga University. He is currently the executive director of Communities in Schools of Spokane County.
The organization in Spokane is part of a nationwide organization formed to help students stay in school.
Dean Lynch, former City Council member, said after the ceremony that Stuckart’s comments moved him.
He said he was impressed with Stuckart’s energy and optimism. “I cried. It’s wonderful,” Lynch said.
Victor Frazier, president of the West Central Community Center board of directors, said he is looking forward to Stuckart’s positive approach.
“I like the thing about open, honest and welcoming government,” Frazier said.