Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Environmental advocate Kitty Klitzke announces bid for Spokane City Council

Klitzke  (Courtesy photo)

Kitty Klitzke, a former army reserve medic and environmental advocate, is running to represent northwest Spokane on the City Council.

She joins what is shaping up to be the most crowded field for this year’s upcoming Spokane City Council elections, facing announced candidates Randy McGlenn II, Christopher Savage and Esteban Herevia.

Two others have filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission but have not formally announced, including Earl Moore, who was not immediately available for an interview, and Erin Lish, who declined to comment on her possible candidacy.

They’re all running for a seat in District 3 held by outgoing Councilwoman Karen Stratton, who will reach her term limit at the end of the year. Klitzke had been a finalist to fill the City Council seat vacated by the early resignation of Steve Salvatori in 2014, though Stratton was appointed to that position.

The district, which has two seats, is also represented by Councilman Zack Zappone, whose term is not up until 2025.

The district stretches north from the Spokane River and west of Division Street and, after redistricting in 2022, also includes Browne’s Addition. Growth has outstripped infrastructure improvements in some parts of the district, particularly in the North Indian Trail, Five Mile and West Central neighborhoods, according to the district’s incumbents.

“My district doesn’t care who I voted for president, and they don’t want political fights,” Stratton said in a previous interview. “They want safe parks, garbage picked up, streets plowed.”

Klitzke believes she is the best candidate to bring the district’s constituents along during the policy-making process, she said in a recent interview.

“I feel like sometimes when people get elected, they lose touch with their constituency groups, and people try to run initiatives and start things without talking to the community,” she said. “I’m going to hold myself accountable for that. I’m really excited to get out there and listen.”

Though she has little experience in elected office, Klitzke is no stranger to local government. She has served as chair of the city’s Community Assembly Pedestrian, Transportation and Traffic Committee, as well as a regional food policy council.

She led the Complete Streets Spokane group, which spearheaded a successful campaign to pass an ordinance by the same name that required bike and pedestrian infrastructure be included during street reconstruction. She also helped lead the 2016 “Yes for Buses” campaign for voter approval of funds for new Spokane Transit Authority buses and the City Line, according to a news release.

Klitzke said her district needs a focus on transportation and land use, noting the area’s unique geology toward the north and what she sees as an underdevelopment of the West Central neighborhood where she lives. For instance, while she supports some of the motives behind allowing multifamily housing anywhere in the city and agrees that more housing is needed, she argues that some areas of town where it is cheapest to build housing also have the most insufficient transportation infrastructure.

“We need to find more innovative ways to get growth where infrastructure already exists,” she said. “We have a better ability to hook up to utilities and serve development with transit and other services if we locate more multifamily in the center of the city.”

She also argued that neighborhood character shouldn’t be disregarded in the pursuit of greater housing density.

“Are there ways to make multifamily match the character of places without much multifamily? Yes, but do we want more density in areas with tight traffic numbers right now? That’s my concern,” she said.

While these issues can lead to contentious debate, Klitzke said she wants to see a concerted effort to bring residents to the table early in the planning process.

“People often don’t keep an eye on land use until a sign pops up saying there’s going to be a development they don’t like,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking for people to come to me later, saying this development shouldn’t be here, and they weren’t at the table when the comprehensive plan was being written.”

Her top priority, if elected, would be working on the 2026 update to the city’s comprehensive plan, a sprawling document that identifies a city’s long-term plans for growth. The document impacts land use plans and development regulations across the city and shapes the trajectory of growth within its borders. Updating it is typically a multiyear process.

It’s a complicated and critical process that Klitzke feels particularly suited to tackle, she said, having served as the Program Outreach Director for the Lands Council and worked on land use issues for 15 years with Futurewise, a nonprofit focused on protecting farmland and natural resources.

“I have a lot of institutional memory,” she said. “I have experience doing these things. My hope now is to do a lot of that on the inside.”