Incoming Councilman Michael Cathcart won’t be the only fresh face on the dais when the Spokane City Council holds its first meeting of the new year on Monday.
Mayor Nadine Woodward will join the council to give remarks and listen to public comment in a nod to her – and the council’s – commitment to unity.
Woodward, who was inaugurated last week, and members of the City Council have both called for a healing between the council and mayor’s office since her election. The relationship between her predecessor, Mayor David Condon, and the council became increasingly turbulent during Condon’s second term in office.
But Woodward is a new mayor and the City Council has a new president in Breean Beggs, who won the citywide seat previously held by Ben Stuckart. Both are looking for a fresh start.
“It’s all about working together, being unified,” Beggs said.
Woodward said people in the community don’t recognize the separation between the city’s executive and legislative branches.
“They see us as the city. We need to be seen in a collaborative way, representing the city,” Woodward said. “I’ve made it a point to reopen the lines of communication between the mayor’s office and the City Council, hitting the reset button and starting with a positive working relationship.”
Woodward’s arrival in council chambers will be no surprise, as Beggs readily invited her.
“We’ll just see how it goes. I hope she’ll come, maybe not every week, but on a monthly basis or something,” Beggs said. “We’ll welcome her back up on the dais when she wants to come.”
Woodward isn’t expected to participate in debate on council matters, but will be present to give a speech and hear out public comment.
Just as importantly to Beggs is her administration’s commitment to send new City Administrator Wes Crago to attend every meeting.
“I feel like so many times people have a concern with the city and they’re talking to us as council members, but we’re only part of the government and can only influence what we can influence because we don’t supervise employees,” Beggs said.
By being present, Beggs said Crago will understand the context in which issues are raised.
The new council president isn’t worried about the administration’s increased presence in council chambers leading to interference in its process.
“We experienced that without the collaboration,” Beggs said, though he noted the council still saw eye-to-eye with the Condon administration “95% of the time.”
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