In front of a group of reporters Thursday afternoon, Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward lauded the accomplishments of her first term and addressed a new challenger hoping to take her job.
Just hours after former state Department of Commerce director Lisa Brown announced her bid to become mayor of Spokane, Woodward held a news conference of her own in the conference room of the Associated Builders and Contractors Inland Pacific Chapter at 1760 E. Trent Ave. The setting was a deliberate statement amid Spokane’s housing crisis, demonstrating support for the incumbent among local builders.
“They support and endorse me. The Spokane Home Builders, they support and endorse me,” she said. “They’re the ones who are going to provide the housing that we need to get us out of this crisis.”
Woodward described the historic challenges her administration has faced, including the pandemic and racial justice protests, contentious politics around modern policing, workforce shortages, inflation and Spokane’s “first riot, ever.”
Amid those challenges, Woodward highlighted the accomplishments of her administration, such as a pilot program to encourage housing density, the doubling of homeless shelter beds and a renewed focus on community policing.
Woodward said police reforms out of Olympia had hampered local law enforcement’s ability to fight crime and noted she is working on a draft ordinance to criminalize open drug use in public spaces. She also called for more state funding to hire officers, noting she expected the endorsement of Spokane police officers.
“Our public spaces need to be safe for everyone,” she said.
She also addressed criticism from her newest challenger, Brown, who argued earlier in the day that Woodward was confrontational with the City Council, with the state and with communities of color.
Woodward dismissed the latter point as baseless and noted prior cooperation with the City Council to pass zoning reforms and other legislation. As to her confrontations with the state, often marked by clashes with Brown in her recent role heading the state Department of Commerce, Woodward was direct.
“I represent the city of Spokane,” she said. “When the state comes into my city and tells me how to run things, but leaves me out of the conversation, does not engage with me or my staff, doesn’t even give me the information that I need to address those issues – yeah, there’s conflict.”
Woodward continued, attacking Brown as a career politician who “never saw a tax hike she doesn’t like.”
She said Brown has been ineffective in her role in the dispersal of state funds to rehouse the residents of the Camp Hope homeless encampment, including with the opening of the controversial Catalyst Project.
“She was OK with people sleeping in the field in 6 inches of snow. I’m not,” Woodward said.
Woodward announced her reelection campaign in July and is headed into the competition with the advantage of incumbency and a significant fundraising head start, having already accrued nearly $111,000, with around $90,000 on hand. As of Thursday, she was the only candidate reporting campaign funds to the state Public Disclosure Commission.