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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Q&A: Steve Corker, running for Spokane City Council president

1. Why do you feel that you are the best candidate? My experience as council president pro-tem, my eight years of council experience, my business and professional background, my involvement in meeting the city’s financial challenges in the past three years, my desire to return civility to the council dais and increase interaction between council members and the city’s executive branch. I have developed relationships with a variety of community leaders and elected officials, city, county, state and federal. I’ve been active in the Association of Washington Cities, on their Legislative and Resolutions Committees, and on the National League of Cities’ Committee on Community & Economic Development and Citysfutures Panel. 2. What is your top priority and how specifically would you work to achieve your top priority? Restore financial stability to the city. Increasing revenues through attracting capital intensive businesses. Assist small businesses by simplifying permitting processes and supporting infrastructure that respects Spokane’s role as a regional economic center, prioritizing auto, freight and intermodal related connectivity. BUDGET & TAXES 3. Given the expected $7 million shortfall between the revenue that city expects in 2012 and the amount needed to maintain current services, should the city maintain a youth department? Should the City maintain an Arts Department? Should the City maintain a weights and measures department? Are there other City services that you would consider eliminating? The City’s first three priorities of the General Fund are police, fire and street services. Next comes the fulfilling of legal and court services. Of the three departments mentioned, the first consideration to delete would be arts, then youth and finally weights & measures. Before eliminating these departments, I would seek to explore savings resulting in regionalization of planning, building permits, fleet services, dispatch, a fire authority and library services. 4. Do you support increasing hotel taxes to help balance the budget? Not at this time. The tourism business is critical to this economy and this tax would make our Spokane businesses less competitive than other markets. 5. Spokane has one of the highest utility rates in the state. Would you consider implementing a local business and occupation tax, as many cities in Western Washington have done as a way to lower the utility tax or other city taxes? No. Because of our proximity to the Idaho state border this tax would only discourage business growth in the City of Spokane. 6. The City recently has lobbied the Legislature to amend state law regarding binding arbitration so that if a contract negotiations stall between the City and a union representing firefighters or police officers, an arbitrator could consider additional factors when setting wages and benefits, such as a city’s ability to pay and to maintain a reserve fund. Do you support this change to state law? Yes. UTILITIES 7. City officials increased sewer changes by 17% percent last year and predict more increases the next few years in large part to pay for nearly $650 million in projects required by the state to improve sewage treatments and prevent untreated sewage from spilling into the river. Do you support sewage fee increases that could top 10 percent in each of the next couple of years? If, not what would be your preferred alternative? I would continue to lobby the Legislature to lessen the state mandates, giving the city more time to address the issue and more time to stretch out the collection of revenues. 8. Should the City continue to use the Waste-to-Energy Plant to dispose of trash collected within Spokane? Yes, as long as the Waste-to-Energy Plant can provide a price competitive and environmental friendly solution to get rid of our solid waste. If not, work for a regional operation that minimizes the cost to taxpayers. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 9. Do you support tax incentives for historic renovation? Do you support tax incentives for building condos and apartments downtown and in certain neighborhood centers? Yes to the first part of this question. Yes, only if the projects include a portion of the project to low income housing. 10. Many candidates are focused this campaign season on job creation. Should the City actively try to create jobs? If so, what should it do? Yes, consider annexation of areas that allow for industrial and commercial development; support infrastructure that aids commercial development; continue to pursue stimulus dollars to assist in housing, utilities and road construction. PUBLIC SAFETY 11. Do you support the use of red light cameras? If so, do you support diverting ticket revenue from a fund for traffic safety projects to balance the budget? Yes, as long as they reduce the number of accidents and the severity of those accidents at our most dangerous intersections. As a sitting council member, we promised the citizens that these dollars would not go to solve General Fund shortfalls and would only be used to promote neighborhood traffic calming. I continue to support that use only. 12. Do you support the decision to have a full-time police ombudsman? Do you believe that the ombudsman should have the authority to conduct independent investigations into alleged police misconduct? Yes, to both questions. 13. Would you support a law, modeled after a law in Seattle, to make misdemeanor possession of marijuana by an adult the City’s lowest enforcement priority? Yes, as long as the individual is not distributing or cultivating marijuana. 14. The Spokane Fire Department’s goals for response times are significantly lower than standards set by the National Fire Protection Association. Given the City’s budget problems, do you have proposals to improve response time? I do support the city considering operating is own transport system for emergency medical transport and also believe we should seriously consider a Regional Fire Authority to combine the various fire departments and districts in Spokane County. 15. Given the recent finding of a bomb placed along the annual route of the Martin Luther King Jr. march in Spokane, what should be the role of the City’s Human Rights Commission? To promote programs and issues supporting human right tolerance and monitoring city policies and programs to insure the city fulfills its human rights responsibilities. LIBRARIES, PARKS AND ENVIRONMENT 16. Spokane’s library system offers significantly fewer hours than many of the 20 largest cities in Washington. Would you be willing to ask voters for a tax to boost this service as was requested earlier this year by the city Library Board? I would only support such an action if public safety needs were addressed first. 17. A consultant hired by the City to review City services in 2006 said that the City was not investing enough in its urban forest, Should the City do more to plant and maintain street trees, If so, how? I am impressed and support the city’s current level of urban forestry programs and activities. Until our public safety requirements are met I would not support additional funding at this time, but I would encourage resident cooperative efforts and work to create such a program. 18. Do you support the sustainability plan promoted by Mayor Verner, which adopted by the Spokane City Council in 2010 ? Do you support the decision of former Mayor Dennis Hession to sign the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement? Yes, to the Sustainability Plan; concerning the Climate Protection Agreement, I would have had the matter brought before the council for public testimony and for council consideration and approval. I was not on the council at that time and am not aware of any consideration given to the council by then-Mayor Hession. 19. Some nearby cities have crafter restrictions for watering lawns during certain hours. Would you support instituting similar rules in Spokane? Not at this time. TRANSPORTATION 20. Most city officials say that the street department has not been adequately funded to properly maintain city streets once they are reconstructed. This year, the City Council approved a $20 vehicle tab tax to boost street funding. Do you support this decision? If not, would you support a change in state law to allow the city to create a street utility fee that would be charged on city trash and water bills? I did not support the tab tax because of our challenging financial times. I would consider a public vote on a street utility fee if other street fees were eliminated or reduced. It is time for us to treat streets as we do with sewer, garbage and water basic services. 21. The City has recently completed the projects it promised voters in the 2004 street bond. Would you support asking voters for a new street bond or a similar or greater scope? If so, should the bond include money to pay for sidewalks, bike lanes, street tress or other street improvements besides pavement from “curb-to-Curb?” Yes, I would support asking voters for a new street bond, and no on your second question. Our backlog of street maintenance is still too large to sacrifice streets maintenance for other amenities. 22. Do you support asking voters for a sales tax to build a street car or trolley system in central Spokane? Not at this time. Until our public safety requirements are met I do not favor using the sales tax option now for this project. 23. Where should the City install bike lanes? Would you be willing to support the installation of bike lane on a street if the City Engineer determined that doing so could cause an intersection to earn a “failing” rating for car traffic congestion? Bike lanes, in most cases, should not be placed on major arterials, but one block off arterials. My answer to the second question is no. Our regional service requirements, the fact that a major portion of our economy is dependent on people outside of Spokane coming to our city to shop, attend school, receive medical services requires us to develop auto connectivity. 24. State leaders have said that local funding may be needed to pay to finish the North Spokane Freeway. Do you support the completion of the North Spokane Freeway south of Francis Avenue to Interstate 90? If so, would you be willing to support local taxes, fees or tolls for the freeway? Quite frankly, until we get out of this recession, which we will, and restore financial stability to state and local governments I am willing to wait on this project’s completion. I am not willing to risk further cuts in public safety or education on this project! 25. Current plans for the North Spokane Freeway call for its interchange with Interstate 90 to expand to about 20 lanes wide, including onramps and service roads, in a portion of the East Central Neighborhood. Do you support this configuration? No.
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