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Wednesday, March 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Editorial

Editorial: Beggs, Dunau should advance in council race

Believe it or not, the primary election is upon us. Ballots will be mailed late next week. The final day to vote is Aug. 1. The top two candidates advance under Washington state’s primary system. The Spokesman-Review will be publishing endorsements in selected contests with three or more candidates. If a race only has two candidates, we will wait for the general election before publishing a recommendation.

Spokane City Council, Position No. 2

This South Spokane seat is held by Breean Beggs, who was appointed in February 2016 when Jon Snyder moved away. Beggs is the former director of the Center for Justice and represented the family of Otto Zehm in a lawsuit against the city. He has been instrumental in securing important police reforms and bolstering the Office of the Police Ombudsman.

Beggs unsuccessfully ran for county prosecutor in 2014, but remains an important voice in the criminal justice reform movement. He is an advocate for diverting offenders from jail and into appropriate treatment and service. He notes that property crimes are often a symptom of unchecked mental health and drug issues.

He supported the council’s adoption of a $20 annual car tab fee for street repairs. He would like to explore just how quickly citizens want snow removed and how much they’re willing to spend on it.

Beggs crafted a rail-safety proposal, which is now a citizens initiative, that fines shippers (rather than the railroads) when they fail to take certain precautions to ensure the safety of oil and coal shipments. He hopes the measure prods shippers to pretreat volatile Bakken fuel.

Andy Dunau is the executive director of three nonprofit organizations, including the Spokane River Forum, and owns a communications consulting firm. He is a former Spokane Park Board member and was chairman of the committee to renovate Riverfront Park. He quietly resigned when he saw budget problems, saying the master plan was “underbaked.”

Dunau says he wants to “reclaim the middle” in an environment where collaboration has gotten to be more difficult. He opposes the rail measure, saying it is unconstitutional. He wants the council to stick to its knitting and avoid controversial distractions.

Dunau, a self-professed numbers guy, would like to see more end-game planning by the city to expand its tax base and avoid squandering money and opportunities. Hiring 44 police officers, as a recent study suggested, must be balanced against other challenges, such as where to put criminals when jails are already burdened. He wants no part of a sugar tax, saying it targets a narrow segment of the population to pay for the basic service of public safety.

He also advocates more oversight and transparency on street maintenance and says the public has a right to be frustrated. He says he probably would’ve voted yes on the $20 local car-tab fee, but wants no new taxes until he sees better plans for the money.

Tony Kiepe worked in pharmaceutical sales for Hollister-Stier. He has also owned and operated three Rapid Refill (ink cartridges) locations. He is concerned about Spokane being labeled a “sanctuary city,” which might cost it federal funds. He wants local police to ask suspects for their immigration status. He would not have voted for the $20 car-tab fee or any tax in the foreseeable future, but he does want more police officers and better roads. He also wants to limit marijuana advertising because of the exposure to children. His theme of eliminating waste to pay for more services is a familiar and unrealistic one.

Beggs has achieved important accomplishments, though we worry about his political activism. Dunau, who is supported by former council members Mike Allen and Steve Salvatori, evinces a thoughtful, pragmatic leadership style.

We recommend both move on to the next round.

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