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Friday, October 23, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Editorial: Ben Stuckart choice for Spokane City Council president

Since the Spokane council president position was created, it has featured strong candidates engaged in interesting races.

This isn’t one of those years.

Incumbent Ben Stuckart is the clear choice over John Ahern, who has veered so far off course that traditional allies have turned away.

Stuckart has the support of numerous unions, which is to be expected, and the Spokane Home Builders Association and the Spokane Association of Realtors, which is not. Mike Allen, an outgoing council member often at odds with Stuckart, has endorsed him.

Ahern has only himself to blame. He was a longtime state legislator backing traditional Republican issues. But at this late stage of his career, he’s decided to play City Council gadfly, harping on divisive issues that serve as distractions to bigger priorities.

His obsession with the “sanctuary city” issue is a prime example. Spokane does not have an illegal immigration problem, and the fear being whipped up reflects poorly on the city. We are not the kind of sanctuary city San Francisco has become. The Police Department is still cooperating with the feds.

The city doesn’t need a council president saying businesses would be wise to move to Idaho over this and other issues, as Ahern has.

Ahern declined to be interviewed by the editorial board or reporters, saying, “The Review has always been quite negative to everybody that’s a Republican.”

The editorial board has endorsed three Republicans in the four City Council races. More importantly, those decisions rest not on party affiliation (these are nonpartisan positions), but on issues, actions and leadership. And that’s where Ahern comes up short.

As mentioned in other endorsement editorials, we’re not enamored with the council’s forays into managing private businesses. Stuckart has been supportive of those intrusions. And while he tabled a paid sick leave proposal, we’re concerned he’ll pull it off the shelf after the election.

However, he is a knowledgeable, passionate leader who clearly cares about the city and public service. Crucially, he has found common ground with Mayor David Condon on some productive projects.

The collaboration has paved the way for 20 more years of funding for street maintenance, thanks to the passage of a new street bond. The plan includes a creative solution for sewer overflow that will help clean up and protect the Spokane River. He teamed up with the mayor to advocate for the park bond.

His work on the Spokane International Airport board could bring productive developments that leverage open space on the West Plains.

He does not believe a $15 minimum wage is realistic for Spokane, and thinks any increase should be scaled to match the community’s relative wealth. He worked hard to get the library levy passed.

Though we harbor philosophical differences, we have been pleased with Stuckart’s willingness to collaborate on the larger issues. He’s the easy choice.

To respond to this editorial online, go to and click on Opinion under the Topics menu.

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