Councilman Mike Fagan has the reputation of saying what he thinks, no matter the consequences.
He questions the safety of vaccines. He says he hadn’t seen racism in Spokane until recently – and it came from the disgraced former NAACP president, Rachel Dolezal. He thinks allowing women to become cops or Marines can in some cases risk a lowering of standards. In a debate about abortion rights, he questioned a fellow council member’s religious beliefs.
Such candor has made Fagan some enemies, including his opponents in this year’s election, and it potentially has made his incumbency vulnerable.
But his opponents in the upcoming primary election have their own vulnerabilities.
Randy Ramos, a first-time candidate who grew up on the Colville Reservation, was recruited by a progressive friend to run against Fagan. April’s election was the first time he voted, at the age of 35 and just 16 days before he filed to run for City Council.
In 2009, Ramos was arrested for driving drunk, a charge that eventually was lessened to negligent driving but he still owes money on fines related to the incident.
Ramos said he’s running in part to inspire others to work for a better life. He said he quit a good-paying job at a San Diego casino to come home and help his community. Though Ramos was short on specifics – aside from saying he’d “get people out there and take part in the community” – he said his votes on the dais would go toward the “greater good.”
Ben Krauss, an analyst with the Spokane Police Department, is another first-time candidate. However, after filing to run and realizing he’d have to leave his job, he had a change of heart and says he’s no longer actively campaigning for the position. Yet, he hasn’t fully abandoned his effort, suggesting if voters push him through to the general election despite his minimal campaign, he would take the campaign seriously in the fall.
Krauss said he was focused on preventing crime with smarter policing. He pointed to some work he did with a grocery store in 2013, which had a high incidence of people shoplifting liquor. When he visited the store, he noticed that the liquor display was near the front door. After the store took his advice to move the display to the back, shoplifting decreased.
Krauss said he also would work to create a program at the city connecting local community college students in the trades to contractors, plumbers, carpenters and other employers.
Fagan, though he describes himself as a “traditional conservative,” said his greatest political triumph was showing people that he wasn’t a “staunch conservative” unwilling to work with anyone.
Fagan pointed at recent reforms at the police department and stopping utility rates from increasing by double-digits as examples of City Hall cooperation he’s proudest of.
And though he said he was proud to work well with his fellow council members, he generally disagreed with using government to work on social issues such as immigration.
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