Just hours after initial election results flashed on television, phone and computer screens throughout Spokane, the city’s apparent next mayor was planning her transition into office.
Nadine Woodward held onto a lead over Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart after the latest tally on Wednesday and began laying the groundwork to replace outgoing Mayor David Condon.
For his part, Stuckart immediately conceded when initial results rolled in on election night and gave no indication he regretted it on Wednesday.
Woodward met with a small transition team that will be tasked with hiring several high-level positions in city government. She plans to also form issue-specific teams to focus on the centerpieces of her campaign, such as public safety, homelessness, housing and economic development.
“I’m tapping on the experts in their field and a broad base of people to help,” Woodward said.
The personnel-focused transition team is made up of a handful of “people I truly admire,” Woodward said. She declined to name them, saying “I’m keeping that close to my vest.”
“My priority right now is definitely on the positions. There are quite a few positions to fill in the cabinet,” Woodward said.
That includes a replacement for City Administrator Theresa Sanders, the mayor’s second-in-command who has served in the post for all eight years under Condon. Sanders was tasked by Condon to aid in the transition, but she is not staying on after he leaves office, according to Woodward.
Woodward will also decide the future of the communication director position, which Marlene Feist has occupied on an interim basis, and the Spokane City Parks and Recreation director, a job Garrett Jones has occupied on an interim basis.
Woodward declined to comment on whether she planned to keep Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer or Police Chief Craig Meidl.
“I want to concentrate right now on the positions that are vacant or have interim people in them,” Woodward said.
There are 26 positions either vacant or filled on an interim basis that Woodward will have to appoint someone to permanently, according to Condon.
Prior to results rolling in on Tuesday night, Condon had pledged to enable a smooth transition for the city’s next leader. In September, he announced a 100-day transition plan that would include the mayor-elect in city meetings and information briefings.
“When we transitioned, unfortunately, we were not provided any support from the outgoing administration,” Condon told The Spokesman-Review on Wednesday. “It’s a delicate balance. The current administration is still in authority until the end of December, but I think it’s also important to bring (in) the new administration.”
In a video posted to the city’s social media accounts on election day, Condon, standing next to a color-coded chart of the city’s strategic plan, described how his administration had cleared a fifth-floor office space to make room for an incoming transition team.
“We’re making this space available to the mayor-elect and their staff so that they can have boots on the ground right here inside City Hall,” Condon said, noting the office’s adjoining conference room.
The office has the same layout as the mayor’s office on the seventh floor, Condon noted, so the new mayor “should feel very at home on the seventh floor” when sworn in.
About a month after David Condon unseated incumbent Mayor Mary Verner in 2011, he announced a multipronged transition team of more than 80 members. Condon’s transition team was led by Sanders, who served as the city’s economic development director from 2007 until 2009 before joining his administration.
The transition team under Condon was crafted to include a broad array of opinions. The public safety subcommittee, for example, included a former city police chief and a representative from the Center for Justice.
Woodward said she would also seek a diversity of opinion in preparing to take the reins.
“These aren’t all going to be like-minded people,” she said.
The apparent mayor-elect expects to work closely with Condon in the coming weeks.
“There’s a lot to tap there as far as his knowledge,” Woodward said.
As for his future, Condon said his family plans to stay in Spokane and that he will “enter the private world as a private citizen,” though he has not “solidified what that looks like for me professionally yet.”
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