Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart announced Wednesday he will seek re-election next year, putting to rest what had become escalating speculation that he was planning to challenge Mayor David Condon.
Although municipal elections are still a year and a half away, Stuckart, 42, said he wanted to declare his intentions early to remove any doubt that he remains committed to continued oversight of an active legislative agenda as head of the nonpartisan but liberal-leaning City Council.
“I need to stay where I’m at,” said Stuckart, explaining that while he and Condon come from opposite ends of the political spectrum and can differ sharply on some issues, he’s encouraged by the progress that’s been made by working collaboratively on important initiatives such as an emerging proposal to fix streets and renovate parks without raising tax rates. “If the mayor and I can keep working together on things like this, and if I can make that easier by announcing early that I’m going to seek re-election to this position and keep that momentum going, it’s good for the entire community.”
The possibility of a Condon and Stuckart mayoral battle in 2015 had begun to dominate Spokane’s political landscape, particularly following the mayor’s March 30 veto of a City Council plan to attack unwanted urban sprawl outside city limits by delaying water and sewer service until any legal challenges were resolved.
But with a narrow liberal majority now in control of the seven-member council, and all three members of the conservative minority facing re-election along with Stuckart next year, he said he wants to continue using the ability to drive legislation on the council to improve Spokane’s appeal as a place to live and work.
“There’s definitely been a shift in the council,” he said, “and keeping that majority is going to be really important for this community.”
Stuckart spearheaded a drive to boost economic revitalization in Spokane by targeting development spending on specific areas to achieve quick results rather than spreading the money around on small projects as was the typical pattern. Called the targeted investment initiative, he said he would use a second term as council president to continue shepherding the initiative along.
Stuckart also pushed through an urban farming plan that he describes as a way to improve the city’s food economy by enabling people to grow and sell healthy food from their own backyards. And, he’s been a vocal antagonist of plans to increase the number of coal and oil trains rolling through Spokane without greater safety precautions.
Condon, a longtime Republican operative before unseating former Mayor Mary Verner in 2011, already has raised nearly $100,000 for his re-election bid next year. Stuckart said he has yet to begin fundraising for his re-election bid.