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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Klitzke and Moore vying to replace Spokane City Councilwoman Karen Stratton

This year’s race to represent northwest Spokane on the City Council pits two newcomers to electoral politics who are no strangers to advocating for public policy.

Kitty Klitzke, 46, has served on various boards and committees, including the Spokane Regional Transportation Council and the city’s Plan Commission Transportation Subcommittee. Her professional life has been almost entirely focused on advocating for policy improvements, including environmental issues with the Lands Council and, later, more local land use issues through Futurewise.

Earl Moore, 78, has served as a member of the Spokane Human Rights Commission and, as a respiratory therapist for 40 years before she retired, successfully lobbied for the end of smoking in enclosed spaces such as restaurants.

They’re running for a seat in District 3 held by Councilwoman Karen Stratton, who will reach her term limit at the end of the year. District 3, 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 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.

Klitzke has received major support from progressive donors, such as Sharon Smith and Don Barbieri of the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, while Moore leads the race’s fundraising due primarily to support from right-leaning business interests.

Klitzke comes into the primary with an edge based on primary results, having secured over 34% of the vote to Moore’s nearly 22%. Left-of-center candidates Esteban Herevia and Darren McCrea earned an additional 18% and 4% respectively. Right-of-center candidates Christopher Savage and Randy McGlenn received 17% and 4% of the vote, respectively.

Alongside Mayor Nadine Woodward, Moore briefly shared a stage with former state Rep. Matt Shea in August during a Christian nationalist event in downtown Spokane. The former Republican state representative from Spokane Valley authored a manifesto that espoused religious violence, attended an armed standoff with the U.S. government and was found to have ordered the surveillance of local progressive politicians.

Moore said she was not aware Shea would be at the event and attended believing it was purely an outlet for her to pray with her community amid devastating wildfires in Medical Lake and Elk. Unlike Woodward, who has since denounced Shea and called him a threat to democracy, Moore said she remains largely unfamiliar with the divisive pastor.

“I know he was in Olympia and they tried to oust him and he wasn’t re-elected, and I have read some stuff about him, but it also depends on what you read,” she said. Shea opted not to run after is last legislative term ended.

While Moore added that Shea has said some things with which she disagrees, she is skeptical of reports from the news media, which she said is prone to sensationalism, and declined to comment further.

Klitzke was born and raised in Spokane and is excited to talk at length about the kind of local policy minutiae she admits bores many of her neighbors, yet deeply affect their communities, like land use and development incentives.

She led the Complete Streets Spokane group, which spearheaded a difficult but 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, which officially launches Monday.

While both candidates say the top issues on voters’ minds are housing, homelessness and public safety, Klitzke believes that her deep experience in local policymaking means she is the best candidate to produce results.

Moore was born and raised in Montana, first coming to Spokane after graduating high school to pursue nursing, though she ended up in the respiratory therapy field.

That work quickly made her into an advocate. Moore was a smoker, as was her mother, but working as a respiratory therapist made her confront the human toll of smoking.

She worked with the Respiratory Care Society of Washington, eventually serving as president of the Eastern chapter, then state vice president and finally state president. She said she helped lobby in Olympia for smoking to be banned in airplanes, restaurants, bars and other enclosed locations. Later, with the American Association for Respiratory Care, she lobbied in Washington, D.C., for numerous health issues, such as affordable oxygen for people in home health care.

That advocacy meant working with politicians across the aisle, and Moore praised former Gov. Christine Gregoire and Sen. Maria Cantwell, both Washington Democrats, for their willingness to work with her. Though Moore said she often has strong opinions on the issues, she adds her age and experience have taught her the value of admitting when she doesn’t have an answer.

Moore often steers away from taking firm stances on difficult issues and responds to many questions by asking questions of her own. She will talk at length about the issues caused by a lack of jail capacity, but when residents ask her about building a new jail, she asks them whether they’re willing to pay for it.

“It sounds so goofy to say, because people ask, then why are you running? But I don’t have an agenda,” she said. “I love this city, and I feel honored to be called to serve.”

In early May, Moore led dozens of supporters of Spokane police Chief Craig Meidl that packed a meeting when the City Council was considering a nonbinding resolution to investigate his communications with local business owners.

While she believes there can be bad apples in a department that should be rooted out, she argues police need to be respected, especially by the City Council. In an interview, she declined to say whether the Office of the Police Ombudsman, which is meant to provide oversight for the department, is effective.

Like Moore, Klitzke often frames her stances on the hot-button topics of the day in terms of what she’s heard from voters or experts.

She believes the city-run Trent Avenue homeless shelter has been a failure largely because that’s what she hears from service providers and voters. But Klitzke comes to the table with progressive proposals, framing the criminalization of homelessness as broadly ineffective and advocating for investments in better services for both the chronically homeless and to prevent people living on the edge financially from becoming homeless.

She wants to see a comprehensive plan to encourage greater housing density and the development of affordable housing, and she believes the best time to do that is when the city updates its Comprehensive Plan, a sprawling document that shapes the trajectory of growth by influencing land-use regulations.

While developer Larry Stone has launched an ad campaign denouncing plans to introduce a rapid bus route and reduce lanes along North Division Street, Klitzke is a fierce supporter of public transit and has spent years without using her car, she said. What impacts a road diet could have on traffic would be worth it for the substantial increase in pedestrian safety, as well as the potential for infill development along transit corridors, she argues.

The General Election will be held Nov. 7. Ballots will begin to be mailed to residents on Oct. 18.