Mike Naccarato joins race to represent south Spokane on City Council
May 24, 2023 Updated Wed., May 24, 2023 at 6:56 p.m.
Mike Naccarato has joined the race to represent south Spokane on the City Council.
Naccarato, who is employed as a purchaser for HDT Global working with specialized shipping containers that can be airdropped worldwide to U.S. and allied troops, is a newcomer to electoral politics.
He has long had an interest in politics, however, studying political science at Eastern Washington University. He previously worked tracking election results for the Associated Press in the 2008 presidential election and said he learned parliamentary procedure while serving in a leadership role as a member of the EWU chapter of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity.
Naccarato is hoping to fill the seat held by Councilwoman Lori Kinnear, who is term limited. He will face Paul Dillon, Cyndi Donahue and Katey Treloar in the August primary.
District 2, which has two seats, is also represented by Betsy Wilkerson, whose term is not up until 2025 but who is running for council president.
The district includes much of the city south of the Spokane River except for the downtown core. It is relatively economically diverse, with growing traffic problems and an uptick in the homeless population.
The East Central Neighborhood, which faces long-lasting effects from Interstate 90’s construction dividing it in the 1960s, is also in the district.
Like most candidates for local office in Spokane, Naccarato said he wants to address homelessness, affordable housing and property crime, calling for a revitalization of downtown.
“I hear people complain all the time about the city and how great it should be, and about their unhappiness with City Council, and instead of being someone who (complains), I figured it was time to do something about it,” Naccarato said.
Naccarato said he supports a “housing-first” approach to addressing homelessness, including rental subsidies, identifying a lack of stable housing as a key driver of addiction and mental health issues. He didn’t identify particular disagreements with how the City Council is currently addressing homelessness issues, but said he would build on current efforts to be more proactive and address underlying issues.
He added that he wanted to establish a task force to tackle homelessness, including with mental health support, job training and connecting people with affordable housing resources. He was unfamiliar with ongoing efforts to create a regional homeless coalition in the Spokane area.
To address Spokane’s housing crisis, Naccarato said he would work to incentivize higher housing density, reduce development fees and streamline the permitting process, though the latter is almost entirely under the purview of the mayoral administration.
On matters of property crime and public safety, Naccarato said he wanted the city to “lean on the police more.”
“There’s been talk about defunding the police, creating a rift,” he said. “We need to actually increase police presence in these high crime areas, deter the activity before it happens.”
He added that he would support subsidies for downtown businesses to purchase surveillance cameras and would encourage the creation of neighborhood watches.
“And we need to emphasize building positive relationships, rebuild that trust and collaboration between law enforcement and the community,”
Naccarato largely declined to weigh in on calls for police Chief Craig Meidl to resign, however.
“I don’t know enough about that,” he said. “Is (Meidl) just the easiest target? Politics is dirty and people get really entrenched in their beliefs.”
Naccarato pledged to be direct with voters during the upcoming election.
“I’m tired of lip service, people always saying the right things because they’re scared of taking flak,” he said. “I’m a straight shooter. Sometimes the answer is: we’re screwed, or we can’t do that. I’ll talk to adults like they’re adults.”
Born and raised in the Tri-Cities, Naccarato moved to Spokane for college. His family has deep roots in the region, part of a large settlement of Italian immigrants in the Priest River, Idaho, area in the 1800s, he said.
“There’s not a place in town where someone hears my name and doesn’t go, oh, are you related to so and so?” he said. “And my family wasn’t creative with the names. There are like 800 Mike Naccaratos.”
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