Spokane City Councilman Steve Salvatori, a fiscal conservative and political ally of Mayor David Condon, is resigning his seat and moving to Texas.
The resignation likely will expand the liberal-leaning majority on the council, creating a veto-proof 5-2 majority.
The company Salvatori founded nearly three decades ago has relocated its headquarters from Pleasanton, California, to Dallas. He serves part time as the company’s chief executive but will resume a more active role in its operations.
“We love Spokane,” Salvatori, 59, said Tuesday. “It’s hard to leave.”
But he said recent growth and other strategic demands of his company, Salvatori-Scott Inc., a consumer products broker, made the move necessary. His resignation is effective July 8 and the vacant seat is expected to be filled by council appointment before the end of August.
Salvatori, who represents northwest Spokane, was among the outnumbered conservatives on the nonpartisan City Council following last fall’s election but praised the way the group worked together.
“One of the things I am most proud of is the way our entire council has conducted itself, even when we find ourselves in disagreement,” he wrote in an email to fellow council members Tuesday. “It only makes sense that if our body is supposed to represent the 210,000 citizens of Spokane, we will occasionally have different points of view which I believe we have all handled respectfully and gracefully.”
Council President Ben Stuckart said he hopes to have a replacement on board by the end of August but said city procedures for filling council vacancies prevent applications from being accepted until after the seat has been vacated. He said he’ll formally announce the vacancy during the July 14 council meeting and the procedures for applying.
The Spokane City Charter gives remaining council members the power to appoint a replacement to fill the rest of Salvatori’s term, through the end of 2015. The person selected must live in the city’s northwest council district.
The council last appointed a member in 2007 when Mike Allen was selected by the council to fill the unexpired term of Mary Verner, who vacated her seat when she was elected mayor. Allen was one of 26 people who applied for the seat.
Council President Ben Stuckart said Salvatori’s extensive business experience will be missed.
“He added a lot to the council,” Stuckart said. “He was laser-focused on the issues at the Fire Department and on the (police) ombudsman.”
Stuckart credits Salvatori with getting union and management of the Fire Department to the same table for a series of task force meetings, and with the city’s push into independent police oversight.
Condon also credited Salvatori’s business experience and entrepreneurial spirit.
“The people of Spokane are losing a great advocate, but I fully support Councilman Salvatori’s decision and wish him and his family continued success,” the mayor said in a statement.
Salvatori is considered a budget hawk and is known for asking sharp questions during meetings, often involving proposed spending, and was a vocal critic of the decision to provide each council member with a full-time assistant. He refused to hire one and arranged to have the $50,000 allocated for the position spent instead on homeless and youth services and economic development groups, drawing an ethics complaint that was eventually thrown out.
He said Tuesday the ordeal had no bearing on his decision to relocate.
“I was really looking forward to helping with the street levy and park bond,” Salvatori said. “Spokane has a lot of good things happening.”
Salvatori also owns three commercial buildings in downtown Spokane and has made property management arrangements but is hoping to sell them.
He moved to Spokane from California seven years ago, and won a City Council seat in 2011 by running as a conservative pragmatist.
He founded a consumer products company 28 years ago in Los Angeles that serves as retail sales representative for several major manufacturers. The company relocated its headquarters 12 years ago to Pleasanton, California, and recently moved it to Dallas to remain competitively positioned amid continuing consolidation among the nation’s retailers, he said.