Today, Spin Control is releasing throughout the day the answers to a Q&A we received from the five finalists to fill the Spokane City Council vacancy created by the resignation of Steve Salvatori. The council is scheduled to pick one of the finalists on Monday.
Here are the answers from Adrian Dominguez, an epidemiologist with Spokane Regional Health District:
1. What is your top priority and how specifically would you achieve your top priority?
My ultimate goal is to increase the health and well-being of all residents in the City of Spokane and to view all policy as health policy, regardless if a policy has a direct or indirect effect on health. We should be evaluating policy in terms of its impact on health, specifically concentrating on economic development, social opportunities, income, education, resources, and the physical environment. We should make it a priority that all residents in Spokane have a chance for success and increase their standard of living. This can only be achieved by engaging all community members and partners, which include residents, community centers, businesses, legislators, faith based-organizations, schools and universities, non-profit organizations, hospitals, and public health. We need to strengthen the individuals and communities role and voice in collaborative efforts that will lead to healthier communities. Much of my work as a researcher has involved organizing various groups to address complex and diverse issues. I have sought public input, worked closely with relevant city staff, consulted a broad variety of interest groups, and collaborated with other council members, the mayor’s office and other relevant officials in order to achieve community sourced solutions.
Read on to find out his positions on police reform, taxes, parking meters and more.
2. What is the first ordinance you will bring forward on council?
The only agenda I am coming in with is to serve and represent the people of NW Spokane, and so I will want to have an opportunity to listen to the public to determine what their concerns and priorities are before crafting legislation.
3. Explain your political philosophy.
I believe a healthy and sustainable government is a government in which all residents participate and all residents see themselves in government. Too many times people become disinterested and disenfranchised with the political system. They believe their voices are not heard and their interests are ignored. I would like eliminate the wariness the public may have with our city government and bridge the gap between the extremes of our political system. We need to focus on what we can agree on and work from there. For example, we can all agree that we want every child in the City of Spokane to succeed and that they should have the same opportunities for success. We can agree that we need to take care of our senior population and that safety is a priority for our city. We can agree that life is a fundamental human right. We can all agree that we want economic success for Spokane. We can agree that all residents fundamentally deserve an opportunity for success, livable wages, affordable housing and a chance to be healthy. How we achieve this will require an involved electorate and for all us to listen to all opinions and ideas. The best plan of action and the foundation for success requires the engagement of all residents in the shared responsibility of governance.
4. What is the role of City Council? Of council members?
The role of City Council is to develop legislation and policy that will impact the City of Spokane and to ensure effective and efficient function of the city’s resources, such as streets, police and fire. Additionally, the City Council acts as stewards of the city funds to provide city services for sustainable success. As a previous Chief Operating Officer for a for-profit organization in Los Angeles that owned seven hospitals (six acute care facilities and one psychiatric facility, I was responsible for the daily operations, administrative matters and licensing for all hospitals. I was accountable for all staff and a budget of several million dollars and understood the importance for efficient and effective management of funds for operational and sustainable success.
City Council members have the role to actively engage and listen to their constituents and relay this information back to City Council, enabling the council to have a greater input of our resident’s voices, thoughts and concerns. As a result of being a city council member, the City Council has the opportunity to be closer to the public because each council member is responsible for representing a smaller area, thus serving as an additional perspective in determining the direction of city government overall. As a public representative, I will strive to articulate the concerns and experiences of the people in my district because that is how local government works best. I believe in obtaining as much information as possible from a variety of sources for any issue, policy or legislative matter at hand before making any decision.
5. What are your thoughts on the Spokane Police Department and its efforts at reform? Do you think they go far enough, or too far?
Crime and safety continue to be critical issues and concerns among residents of the City of Spokane. Indeed we have seen a decrease in crime in our city and the police department is working on community engagement. I applaud the police chief efforts to change the culture in the police department and initiating programs like the youth basketball league. Despite these successes, I continue to hear about gaps in the relationships between the police department and residents in Spokane, particularly in low-income and ethnic minority communities. I want to bridge this gap between both parties and be instrumental in strategically developing successful community engagement activities that will enhance the relationships between policemen and community members, creating a level of trust, respect for all and hope.
6. Do you think the mayor’s Integrated Clean Water Plan does enough to prevent toxins and pollutants from entering the river?
The Spokane River is one of the city’s most extraordinary and amazing assets. People who visit Spokane are amazed at its beauty and believe we are so fortunate to have such a piece of nature in our backyard. We should make every effort to preserve and maintain this natural beauty. I believe the mayor and the city are committed to preventing and reducing toxins and pollutants from entering the river. I applaud the innovative approaches and plans, such as rain gardens, to address the storm and sewage overflows that occur in Spokane. Although much has been done, we need to strive to maintain our success with the river clean-up and assure that we will eliminate all pollutants and toxins from entering the Spokane River. The city, environmentalists, community members and engineers need to work collaboratively at finding solutions to preserve our river so all existing and future generations can enjoy its beauty.
7. Do you agree with Jon Snyder’s action to dissolve the Transportation Benefit District and its annual $2.5 million in funding unless the city finishes its Pedestrian Master Plan?
Yes I do agree with Jon’s action. Pedestrian planning should be a priority for this city.
8. Each year the Spokane City Council approves a legislative agenda, which is essentially a wish list of legislative changes for the City of Spokane to actively lobby for in Olympia. What are two to three items you would like to see included on the list for 2015?
I would like to ensure we have enough resources to fund public health and mental health services, address issues on low-income housing and finally the local funding from marijuana excise taxes.
9. Do you think the mayor has done enough outside lobbying to bring funding to Spokane projects, such as the North Spokane freeway?
Our elected officials, who include the mayor and city council members, have worked successfully together to advance and advocate effectively our legislative priorities in Spokane. Much more work needs to be done to encourage all elected representatives to support our local needs, specifically the north Spokane corridor and other transportation needs.
10. Are parking meters a good way for the city raise revenue?
Meters are a standard practice for generating some revenue and ensuring more frequent access to our high demand downtown. We need to be sensible about the amount of money any revenue method generates, look at what populations and communities are being impacted the most (this includes residents and business owners), what services are generated and maintained with this money and allow our community members to have a voice in setting the city’s priorities.
11. What’s the most underutilized revenue source in Spokane?
I would like to review all revenue sources in Spokane and assess the data before I determine which is the most underutilized.
12. Do you support David Condon’s re-election?
It is premature for me to answer this question until I know who will be running against him. What I will say is whoever serves the next term as mayor, I’m looking for them to be a strong supporter for increasing the health and well-being of our residents, addressing safety and being strategic about economic development and jobs.
13. Did you support the legalization of marijuana, and do you think the state’s marijuana regulatory scheme is appropriate?
Discussing the support of this law is a moot point since marijuana is legal in the state of Washington. I believe we need to focus our attention on the effects of marijuana on our youth and children, similarly to our understanding of alcohol and cigarettes. We need to develop methods and means to assure that our children and adolescents do not use or have access to marijuana or any substance. We understand the detrimental effects of brain development and the impacts on social integration when such substances are used among our youth. A teenager’s brain must transform from the brain of a child to a brain of an adult and just like alcohol, cigarettes, prescription medications (not intended for the youth’s use), over-the-counter medication and street drugs, marijuana can affect that crucial process. The brain is at a critical point in its human growth, developing critical thinking skills, judgment abilities and memory and problem solving skills. It is essential that we focus our attention on how we will prevent the use of marijuana among our youth and not continue to vest energy on a law that has been passed by Washingtonians. In addition, my public health background will assist our city legislators to resolve the many questions that remain regarding how the emerging regulatory system is to be implemented at the local level. I will say that we need to be strategic on how we spend revenue generated from the sales of marijuana, specifically on medically appropriate education for adults to help residents make informed decisions about personal choices they make in regards to their health, education on the impacts of marijuana on youth and to develop programs to prevent youth access.
14. Council President Ben Stuckart has made clear that he wants the appointed council member to be re-elected. How would you ensure that you could run and win in District 3, which twice elected conservative former Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin by very high margins?
I have broad appeal, I work hard and I am confident that people will like what they see while I serve out the appointment term. My commitment to the neighborhoods in District 3 is well known. This district has been interested in supporting candidates for city council that are working hard to improve their livelihood and well-being and who listen to them and encourage dialect and participation in their city government. They know when someone is vested in their district. I think as someone who has been working on evidence base solutions, bringing resources and educational opportunities to my district, I would be excited to take that message into a campaign and run on my experience. Every election is different and Nancy was a dedicated servant for our district. I hope that if I have the chance to run to retain the seat, voters will look at me based on my merits and see what I have worked on while on council.