Spokane city Councilwoman Candace Mumm faces two challengers for her northwest Spokane seat, both of whom argue that city lawmakers have lost sight of assisting and recruiting businesses.
Mumm, a 56-year-old former television broadcaster and current real estate investor, is seeking her second term on the Spokane City Council after winning election in 2013. She faces Brian Burrow, 38, a project manager on contract with Avista Corp., and Matthew Howes, 47, co-owner of Adelo’s Pizza, Pasta & Pints, which has served the Indian Trail Neighborhood for nine years.
Mumm touted her work establishing street and sidewalk plans, helping neighborhoods with projects like the planned Spokane Transit Authority transit hub near Spokane Falls Community College and state-level initiatives to address property crime among her accomplishments on the City Council.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with neighborhoods, and improving things at that level,” Mumm said, adding that her focus has been on making sure services are convenient in targeted areas of town by drafting sidewalk plans and transit options for those unable to easily get around to work, play and buy.
Burrow grew up in impoverished areas of the West Central Neighborhood and studied the conditions leading to poverty in graduate studies at Eastern Washington University. He said City Hall is lacking leadership on economic development that he could deliver, having helped develop curricula to improve aerospace and manufacturing training at community and technical colleges. He also traveled overseas on a trade mission promoting the state’s aerospace exports.
“People are very concerned about our city, with the direction of our current leadership we have there,” Burrow said.
Howes, who traveled to Spokane originally as an orphan of the Vietnam War in Operation Babylift, agreed that the tenor of City Hall was not favorable to business, especially small ones, like the pizza restaurant and pub he owns with his wife.
“I think we need to have them sit down and realize what it’s like to run, and own, a small business,” Howes said. “Trying to make payroll. Figuring out what we need to do to improve that area.”
Mumm said, as a small business owner herself, assisting them informs her work on city and state committees.
“I work on economic development and supporting business every week on the job,” she said. “It’s always at the forefront of my mind.”
Burrow said encouraging people to drink less sugar was a laudable goal, but believed it should be achieved by education, not a government policy that would hurt business.
“The opinion that I’m hearing from the business community is that our local government is throwing too much at them too quickly,” Burrow said.
Mumm agreed with her opponents, saying she opposed the tax and drafted a letter agreed to by the entire City Council clarifying such a proposal was not on the table in Spokane.
“A new tax would be the last resort, in my mind,” she said.
Howes accused the current City Council of groupthink, and said he would bring a more independent voice to the panel.
“I just feel that, right now, we’ve got a City Council that all seems to vote one way,” Howes said.
Burrow agreed, saying Mumm’s voting record put her in line with City Council President Ben Stuckart on most issues.
“We need more diversity on City Council,” Burrow said. “We’ve got, basically, 6 to 1. We’ve got six people who are over 90 percent voting on the left, and you’ve got one guy on the right.”
Mumm said each council member brings their own perspective and focus to the panel and dismissed notions that the council are in lock-step on some of the issues that have drawn scrutiny for being beyond the scope of city government. In recent weeks she broke with Stuckart when she voted against extending water service outside city borders and the appointment of Mike Ormsby as city attorney.
“We are a group of individuals, and each has their own area that they work on and things that are important to them,” Mumm said.
She said she believed the issues she’s brought forward, including crosswalk and sidewalk improvements, directly affect residents in the city.
Burrow criticized planning efforts that occurred in the Indian Trail Neighborhood, which came to a head last fall when the City Council voted unanimously not to approve a proposed apartment complex in the neighborhood that residents said would put too much stress on existing streets. Burrow said Mumm, a two-time president of the city’s plan commission, didn’t do enough at the time to push for widening of North Indian Trail Road to support future development in the area.
“It’s a disaster out there, where now you have the neighbors saying we don’t want this apartment complex to go in here, and we need these roads to be widened, and that was her project,” Burrow said.
The plan commission approved a zoning change for the neighborhood in November 2007. Mumm was a member of the commission but not the president when that vote occurred
Mumm believes her votes, including the one to shoot down the apartment complex (a decision that is now under appeal), have consistently backed the opinion of neighborhood residents, including increased walking and transit options.
“I’ve always supported neighborhood planning efforts, all the stakeholders coming together to determine a neighborhood’s future,” she said, adding the zoning decisions were “a massive public process that involved more than 5,000 people.”
Burrow declined comment on whether he’d have voted for the apartment complex but said more should have been done by the plan commission to facilitate the future growth in the area.
“I would say more that she had the opportunity to ensure that there was a provision in there for widening the roads in preparation for the increase in residents out there,” he said.
Howes said road conditions were one of the key issues he’d heard from northwest Spokane voters on the campaign trail.
“Garland is completely in shambles. Wellesley is completely in shambles,” Howes said. “We’ve got so many of these roads. Indian Trail could certainly use some attention.”
Ballots are being mailed this week for the primary election in Spokane’s three City Council districts. The top two vote-getters in each district will advance to the November general election. Ballots are due Aug. 1.
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