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Spokane City Council candidates respond to the campaign ads against them

Oct. 29, 2021 Updated Fri., Oct. 29, 2021 at 10:17 p.m.

An attack ad against Spokane City Council candidate Zack Zappone is paid for by the Spokane Good Government Alliance, an independent political action committee supporting conservative candidates.  (Adam Shanks)
An attack ad against Spokane City Council candidate Zack Zappone is paid for by the Spokane Good Government Alliance, an independent political action committee supporting conservative candidates. (Adam Shanks)

As the general election nears, candidates for Spokane City Council and their supporters are trading barbs and making claims.

Here’s a look into some of the accusations and arguments made in the two contested City Council races: Mike Lish against Zack Zappone in District 3, and Jonathan Bingle against Naghmana Sherazi in District 1.

Bingle

A mailer distributed to voters in northeast Spokane attacks Bingle, quoting him claiming that “government is horribly inefficient.” It notes that he said he has always known he would enter politics because God made him a “certain way” and he has “invested so much in prayer.” It also quoted Bingle claiming he would love to serve in the state legislature one day.

Bingle’s response?

Yup.

“These are all things I’ve said and do believe,” Bingle told The Spokesman-Review.

The mailer hints at Bingle’s faith both in its quotes and its images, which include a photo of Bingle at the Church at Planned Parenthood, a group that gathers outside the Planned Parenthood clinic on Indiana Avenue to protest abortion.

In his response to a survey from We Believe, We Vote, Bingle described abortion as “the greatest moral evil occurring in the United States today.”

He told The Spokesman-Review that he is “very anti-abortion, very pro-life,” but added that he also believes in connecting young mothers with services.

The mailer was distributed by 509 Forward, a progressive group whose top donors include Jerry LeClaire, Susan Sawyer and former congressional candidate Lisa Brown’s campaign.

Sherazi

A mailer distributed by the Spokane Good Government Alliance accuses Sherazi of supporting a ban on natural gas in Spokane, citing her response to the Spokane Association of Realtors candidate questionnaire.

That questionnaire is not public, and the Spokane Association of Realtors declined to make it available to The Spokesman-Review.

The accusation is an apparent reference to her support for the draft sustainability action plan released by the city earlier this year. As written at the time, the plan did not suggest a blanket ban on natural gas. It would have proposed prohibiting natural gas connections from new residential construction in 2023, and new commercial construction by 2028.

The sustainability action plan ultimately adopted by the City Council this week did not include the recommendations regarding natural gas connections.

Sherazi said at a debate earlier this month that she believed the proposal would have allowed “anybody who wanted those to put in a request and they would have been granted.”

Still, she questioned the “fixation” on natural gas.

“There are many other options. Making buildings greener and making buildings more energy efficient is where our focus needs to be,” Sherazi said.

Zappone

A TV ad accuses Zappone of pledging to defund the police.

It’s a reference to the pledge signed by Zappone in 2020, when he was running for State Legislature, organized by the liberal group Fuse Washington. The word “defund” was not actually used, but the five reforms for police accountability proposed by Fuse included a call to “redirect police department funding to community-based alternatives.”

“By prioritizing non-law enforcement investments in the community like health and social services, the city could reduce police violence and improve public safety,” the pledge states.

The ad features Spokane Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who says that Zappone’s signing of the pledge support from Fuse is “enough for me.”

Zappone told The Spokesman-Review that he unequivocally does not support defunding the police, and he called on the administration to create a plan to fill vacancies in the Spokane Police Department.

“I do not believe in defunding the police, I believe in investing in and evolving our public safety system so police can do their jobs,” Zappone said.

Zappone called the accusation “fear mongering” intended to motivate people to vote, but he expressed confidence that voters would see through it.

The Spokane Police Guild has endorsed Lish.

The ad was paid for by the Spokane Good Government Alliance, whose top contributors include businessman Larry Stone, Washington Trust Bank and the Spokane Home Builders Association’s political action committee.

Lish

Zappone attacked Lish in a recent debate for not supporting gay marriage, citing a We Believe, We Vote candidate survey.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being “strongly agree,” Lish marked an 8 in response to the survey’s section on marriage, which included a claim that “Only marriage between one man & one woman should be protected by civil government because it is the optimal environment for raising children.”

Lish told The Spokesman-Review that the right to marry “who you love is already settled law” and not a City Council issue.

“Running a business, I’ve always respected my customers and employees, worked with people from many beliefs and backgrounds, and that really is a piece of who I am, being able to work with people,” Lish said.

Lish said gay marriage is “their right.”

“I will work with anybody and I will work with them to make them feel welcomed and comfortable and safe in the community,” Lish said.

’Stache attack

Future candidates beware: any photo of you with a mustache can and will be used against you.

Ominous music plays as a gritty photo of Zappone, sporting a mustache, appears on the screen in a recent ad. The narrator accuses Zappone of committing to defunding the police.

A mustachioed Bingle is also featured in the mailer criticizing him and supporting his opponent, Sherazi.

Bingle’s hair is increasingly more salt than pepper, but his mustache remains jet black. He rarely has facial hair, he said, but he questioned what’s wrong with the mustache.

“I miss that mustache,” Bingle said.

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