Spokane City Council candidates square off in debates
Two debates filmed Tuesday showcasing candidates for Spokane City Council races had two distinct tones.
A debate between Michael Cannon and Candace Mumm, who are vying for a seat representing northwest Spokane, was testy.
Another between former state Rep. John Ahern and incumbent Councilman Jon Snyder, who are campaigning for a seat representing south Spokane, was cordial.
Cannon, a manager at Bank of America Merchant Services and chairman of the city Community Housing and Human Services Board, repeatedly tried to link Mumm with former Mayor Mary Verner. He questioned if Mumm could be trusted to support police reform because she campaigned for Verner, who approved a Spokane Police Guild contract that did not give the police ombudsman the authority to independently investigate alleged officer misconduct.
Cannon is supported by Mayor David Condon, who has approved a tentative contract with the guild. Details about the new deal remain secret, but Center for Justice officials who have seen it have said it also does not appear to provide the ombudsman with investigative powers.
Mumm, the former City Plan Commission chairwoman, a developer and former TV reporter, responded that she worked in the City Plan Commission under five mayors who had different political leanings. After the debate, she said she, like Cannon, would not vote for a guild contract unless it included investigative authority for the ombudsman.
Both candidates said they agreed with the City Council’s decision to reject proposed regulations aimed at putting more clothes on near-naked baristas.
Cannon said a better solution was for neighbors to work with espresso stand owners.
“What we saw was a regulatory response – that pretty soon we want to regulate how business is done in the city,” Cannon said.
Mumm said she thought the ordinance was flawed and may have violated the First Amendment, but that the City Council should have taken concerns more seriously. She said the city might be able to use existing laws to deal with nudity concerns.
“I don’t think that this is just the neighbors,” she said. “This is people who drive by with children in the car.”
Cannon ended the debate by reminding listeners of Mumm’s support for Verner in the latest mayoral campaign.
“Just like back then, my opponent has been using political speak to avoid asking tough questions and taking firm positions. We can’t afford to go back to that kind of leadership.”
But Mumm promised to bring “a balanced approach” to Spokane citizens, accusing Cannon of playing politics.
“They don’t want any political problems to stop government from moving forward. That’s what’s happening now on the federal level,” Mumm said. “They want someone to represent the people, not politics.”
Ahern vs. Snyder
The other debate, between candidates hoping to represent south Spokane, remained cordial. Snyder turned down rebuttal opportunities multiple times when it was clear that the candidates’ positions were similar.
Ahern is a former Republican state representative. Snyder won the City Council seat in 2009 and is the former owner of an outdoors monthly magazine. He ran as a Democrat last year in an unsuccessful bid for state House.
Both said that they would vote against any Spokane Police Guild contract that doesn’t allow the police ombudsman to investigate alleged police misconduct independently of the police department.
Both also said they support asking voters for a new tax to continue progress improving city streets since work is nearly complete on the tax approved by voters a decade ago to rebuild a third of city streets.
“I don’t want our future generations to be digging out from a backlog that we gave them,” Snyder said.
Ahern noted that he has had personal experience with the problems caused from potholes on city streets when his car was damaged.
“Let’s put it out to the voters,” Ahern said. “If they understand it and you sell it right, they’ll go for it.”
Both candidates also said they were open to further consideration for new restrictions on so-called bikini baristas.
Snyder earlier this month sided with a majority of the council rejecting the ordinance that sought to cover up the baristas. He said he believes supporters of the ordinance had genuine concerns, but that he thought the proposal would have diverted police from more important crime issues.
Ahern joked about the working conditions for the baristas in the winter, but didn’t say if he would have voted for the proposal that failed in front of City Council. Nevertheless, he said action is needed.
“If a guy wants that type of thing, hey, you’ve got strip joints, you’ve got porno shops, you’ve got everything else,” Ahern said. “We can’t let this thing get out of control and right now it’s gradually getting out of control.”
Editor’s note: Reporter Jonathan Brunt served as a panelist for both debates.