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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Councilman Michael Cathcart running for second term

May 24, 2023 Updated Wed., May 24, 2023 at 8:45 p.m.

Cathcart  (Courtesy of Michael Cathcart)
Cathcart (Courtesy of Michael Cathcart)

Michael Cathcart is the only incumbent on the Spokane City Council running for re-election this year.

He will face Lindsey Shaw, former Logan neighborhood chair, in the coming elections to represent northeast Spokane. With only two candidates in the race, the August primaries will serve primarily as an opportunity to test the relative strengths of Cathcart and Shaw’s campaigns.

District 1, which has two seats, is also represented by Councilman Jonathan Bingle, whose term is not up until 2025.

Bingle and Cathcart are the only members of the City Council’s current conservative minority. Though both have claimed political victories during their terms, including augmenting the proposals of the council’s left-leaning members and occasionally spearheading bipartisan policy goals, they are often outvoted by the Council’s veto-proof supermajority.

The city’s northeast district is almost entirely bound by Interstate 90 to the south and Division Street to the west, although after redistricting in 2022 it also includes the entirety of downtown Spokane’s Riverside Neighborhood. The area has the highest levels of poverty in the city, but also a number of up-and-coming businesses and parks, and will have access to newly drivable portions of the North Spokane Corridor later this year, Bingle noted in an interview.

“We’re going to have access to portions of the freeway before anyone else, which hopefully unlocks a lot of that area for investment, and realistically livable-wage jobs with warehouses and shipping in that area once that corridor is finished,” he said.

As the only incumbent running for re-election this year, Cathcart has a more substantial legislative record to run on than other candidates for City Council. His voting history is fully viewable on the city’s website. He has recently led bipartisan efforts to make the city’s budgeting process more transparent, worked to criminalize public drug use and is pursuing an ordinance that would limit the City Council’s ability to draw its own districts.

He also pointed to his past work on restricting homeless camping in certain areas, and collaborations with former Councilwoman Kate Burke to increase transparency during council meetings and with Councilwoman Karen Stratton to require “good neighbor” agreements. Those pledges are meant to limit impacts on surrounding residences and businesses with local shelter providers.

If re-elected, Cathcart said he wants to continue developing a neighborhood-oriented policing program, which he believes would allow for more effective law enforcement and better relationships with the community. He also wants to see the council approve funding for more police and to allow officers to have take-home vehicles, which he believes would help boost recruitment.

“I’ve been a pretty emphatic advocate for smart public safety investments, making sure we are as safe as we can be,” he said in an interview.

“It is my belief we have a right to live in a safe community, and everyone should have access to safe and affordable neighborhoods,” he added. “For me, that’s the driving force, to pass policies that further that.”

Raised in Spokane, Cathcart left briefly to attend college at Montana State University, where he graduated with a degree in motion picture arts. He worked for a time for KHQ in video production, before leaving to work as an aide for former 6th Legislative District state Sen. Michael Baumgartner.

Later, he worked with the Homebuilders Association and then the pro-business organization Better Spokane, where he was the executive director. In between his day job, he served for a time as the Emerson Garfield neighborhood chair.

He was elected to the City Council in 2019 and ran unsuccessfully last year for a seat on the Spokane County Commission.

“It became apparent how much of an impact I could have on my community,” he said. “I’ve remained a part of that ever since.”

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