The political center, both locally and nationally, has been hollowed out, which has given rise to more activism, even in nonpartisan venues such as city councils.
This region is no different. With a 6-1 tilt to the left – and conservative Mike Fagan on the other side – the center is a lonely place in Spokane City Council chambers. Meanwhile, the Spokane Valley City Council leans decidedly to the right, and it has its own slate of extracurricular causes.
Andy Dunau is the rare Spokane City Council candidate who is genuinely moderate. On top of that, he has no desire to pursue issues beyond the scope of the position.
It’s the chief reason he gets our endorsement in the District 2, Position 2 contest.
Dunau has collected endorsements from Democrats, such as former City Councilman Steve Corker and former Spokane County Democratic Chairman Tom Keefe, and Republicans, such as former City Councilmen Mike Allen and Steve Salvatori.
He has worked with environmentalists and businesses to forge collaborations. He is a small-business owner himself. As a member of the Park Board, he was known for his keen eye on budget matters as finance chair.
Dunau wants the council to focus on the basics: roads, plowing, libraries, parks, budgets, planning, etc. However, the council has shown a penchant to make declarations on other issues, such as a resolution to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership, where it has no sway. (For the record, we believe the TPP would’ve been great for Washington, the most trade-dependent state in the union.)
While such resolutions may seem harmless, they create unnecessary partisan divisions, which can make it more difficult to come together on issues that are within the scope of the city.
Breean Beggs was appointed to this south Spokane seat 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 worked to bring about city funding for a round-the-clock homeless shelter. He’d like to find a solution to funding sidewalks, which are in sad shape. He would like to explore just how quickly citizens want snow removed and how much they’re willing to spend on it.
Beggs’ civic contributions are undeniable, but he did craft the controversial rail proposal, which is now a citizens initiative, that fines shippers when they fail to take certain precautions to ensure the safety of oil and coal shipments. Before that, he supported Envision Spokane’s efforts to bring about a community bill of rights, a bid that was thoroughly demolished by the state Supreme Court.
We prefer the City Council hash out issues, rather than kick them over to voters or serve them up as fodder for lawsuits.
Andy Dunau embodies the centrist approach the city is missing.