In some corners of Spokane Valley the discussion isn’t on what the City Council voted on or discussed, it’s about the tie Councilman Arne Woodard wore.
Some feature cartoon characters. Others are more historical – old planes, Pearl Harbor or Lucille Ball of “I Love Lucy” fame. Mostly they are big, bright and colorful and Woodard said he hears comments about them every week. The only break in the tie-wearing streak was a recent week when he picked out a bright orange and red Hawaiian shirt instead.
“I’m having a Hawaiian moment, so indulge me,” he said during the meeting.
Since his appointment to the council in April 2011, Woodard has tried to wear a different tie every Tuesday night. He owns nearly 60 of them. His wife and children have bought some for him. Others he has picked up when he spotted a tie that’s “different” and in keeping with his sometimes offbeat sense of humor.
Woodard, who is a real estate broker and owns his own business, said he began wearing cartoon ties years ago as a way to break the ice when he was showing homes to families with young children. “I’m just a big kid,” he said. “I love kids. I have seven.”
But he didn’t start wearing ties regularly until he took his seat on the council. “I’m a blue jeans type of guy,” he said. “But I think the citizens of Spokane Valley have the expectations of someone who at least looks the type.”
While he wants to look more professional, he does it on his own terms. He picks the ties in part because he thinks it makes him more approachable. “It isn’t too flashy,” he said. “It really is to help people feel comfortable approaching council. I want to be engaged.”
Some meeting nights he picks his tie based on his mood. “If I come with Taz, look out,” he laughed. What he doesn’t consider is whether the tie creates a coordinated outfit. “I have an array of ties that don’t necessarily match what I’m wearing, but oh well. I am who I am.”
He does own a few ties that look more subdued, but are they really?
“I could wear power ties and I do,” he said. “You have to look at the pattern real close. You’ll see that it’s ‘101 Dalmatians.’ ”
Woodard appears serious about his work as a councilman, asking a lot of questions each week. It’s obvious that he reads each council packet thoroughly and often talks about doing his own research on issues. But he also often cracks jokes to try to loosen up his fellow council members and the audience.
“Everybody I meet, I want to make them laugh,” he said. “I can find humor in anything. The business of the city is serious, but we don’t have to be dry and dull. I’m not going to give up who Arne Woodard is just because