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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

City Councilman Breean Beggs to run for city council president

Breean Beggs talks with supporters Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009 at a reception in the lobby of the Community Building in Spokane, Wash. Beggs, a city councilman, has announced his intention to run for City Council president. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

City Councilman Breean Beggs has filed to run for city council president, saying he hopes to continue his work on criminal justice reform and help the council and the mayor’s office work together.

Beggs, who was nominated to fill a City Council vacancy in 2016 before being elected in 2017, became a prominent voice on police and criminal justice reform issues when he represented the family of Otto Zehm in a lawsuit against the city, and as the director of the Center for Justice from 2004 to 2010. Beggs said if elected, he hopes to continue his work on Smart Justice programs to reduce incarceration and recidivism.

Beggs said he hopes to work with county and city leaders to address the root cause of the “revolving door of jail” where offenders continually cycle through the criminal justice system. He said he has built relationships with other officials throughout his career and hopes to increase collaboration regionwide to find solutions to criminal justice issues.

He said he also hopes to increase the supply of affordable housing at all income levels by continuing the city’s work on tax credits for affordable housing and funding shelters that will replace the beds lost after cutbacks at the House of Charity shelter.

“It’s a complex problem and we need to address it at every level,” he said.

Beggs, who is developing a plan alongside Councilman Mike Fagan to pave 60 miles of unpaved streets throughout the city, said creating programs to improve roads and sidewalks are also a priority.

Former NAACP president and community activist Phillip Tyler is also running for city council president. Tyler came under fire earlier this year after multiple women accused him of past incidents of domestic violence.

Beggs, who would replace City Council President Ben Stuckart, said he hopes to increase collaboration between branches of city government. He said after next election, there would be a new mayor, council president and new council members, so the current dynamic between the executive branch and legislative branch would likely change.

Mayor David Condon and the council have clashed on several issues, including border patrol, sustainable energy and the future of the city’s emergency communication system.

Beggs said one of his talent lies in helping people work together, and he hopes to improve cooperation across city government.