Some in Spokane politics are definitely planning on running for mayor next year. Some are definitely not. Many, many more won’t say one way or the other.
Mayor Nadine Woodward launched her re-election campaign this summer and filed with the Public Disclosure Commission in August, raising more than $33,000 in the past four months.
Among other possible 2023 candidates, the most widely speculated about is Lisa Brown, a longtime Spokane politician and current director of the Washington State Department of Commerce. If she ran next year, it would be her first bid for public office since her unsuccessful 2018 attempt to unseat Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
Brown and Woodward have clashed repeatedly over Spokane’s response to homelessness, particularly over Camp Hope.
Woodward has repeatedly accused Commerce of not working urgently to fund solutions to homelessness, and Brown specifically has been accused by Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich of playing politics and “making people rich” instead of working to clear the camp on state land along Interstate 90 in the East Central area.
In a September letter, Brown and other state officials accused Woodward of caring more about the city’s image than actually helping the people living at the camp. But Brown was not ready in a Wednesday interview to announce she would be challenging Woodward in 2023.
“I have considered that, and I haven’t made a decision about it,” Brown said. “And it’s not an easy decision, because this work here at Commerce is really important.”
For many considering a potential 2023 run, the foremost question is whether Brown will throw her hat in the ring.
“If Lisa Brown runs, I am 100% supportive of her running for mayor,” said Ben Stuckart, the former City Council president who lost to Woodward in the 2019 mayoral race. “And if she doesn’t, we will take that as it comes.”
Some in Spokane’s political spheres have categorically stated they will not be running for mayor next year in any case.
Natasha Hill, who lost her election this year against McMorris Rodgers, has said she will not run. Neither U.S. Attorney Vanessa Waldref, nor her sister Amber Waldref, who won her election this year to join the Spokane County Commission, will be running, they told The Spokesman-Review.
Among those on the City Council, neither Council President Breean Beggs nor Councilman Zack Zappone intend to run, they said.
State Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, would not say definitively , simply stating that he’s looking forward to serving his constituents in Olympia during the upcoming session.
Outside of local political circles, it’s unclear who might try to run. Businessman Chud Wendle, at least, has said he is definitely not going to join the race.
Only a few people are certain to be running next year. Other than Woodward, three people have filed with the PDC, although no other candidate has reported raising any funds.
Spokane fire union president Tim Archer, who lost his job last October after 20 years with the Spokane Fire Department because approval for his religious exemption to the COVID-19 vaccine was rescinded, has said he felt betrayed by Woodward. He and 19 other firefighters were forced from their jobs because of how the mayor enforced Gov. Jay Inslee’s vaccine mandate, he said.
“While I represented our heroes on our fire department, I saw our mayor refuse to answer calls from them and defer them to a hired West Side attorney instead,” Archer said.
Archer, an Army veteran, added that he is in the process of being hired back onto the department following the end of the governor’s vaccination mandates earlier this year.
Comedian Deece Casillas, who filed in 2020 to raise money, wrote on Twitter that if elected he would allow people to challenge him to wrestling matches for a “mayoral belt.”
Resident Keith Kleven, who has also filed with the PDC, has called on social media for raising sales taxes to pay for posters of “our fearless leader,” Knezovich, to be placed “all over Spokane,” among other proposals.
Many more are likely to enter the fray as election season picks up next year. The official candidate filing week begins May 15.
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