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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Cathcart, Shaw vie to represent northeast Spokane on the City Council

The race to represent northeast Spokane pits a conservative incumbent campaigning as a steward of the taxpayer’s wallet against a progressive former neighborhood chair who wants to invest in better social programs and implement stronger renter protections.

Incumbent Michael Cathcart will face former Logan Neighborhood Council chair Lindsey Shaw this November.

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 current 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 said 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,” he said.

With only two candidates running in a nonpartisan race, Cathcart and Shaw did not appear on the August primary ballot, something that also limited the amount of fundraising coming into the race where other districts have seen record-breaking campaign contributions. Candidates in Washington can receive up to $1,200 from a person or organization for the general election and another $1,200 for the primary, if a race appears on both ballots.


For those who frequent City Council meetings, Cathcart might be best known for twin mantras he typically works in to each meeting: public safety and fiscal responsibility.

He is a vocal advocate for delivering resources that the police department requests from the city, but he also has shown a willingness to advocate for police accountability. While he opposed expanding the authority of the Office of the Police Ombudsman to allow that agency to investigate allegations of misconduct by the police chief, he has instead advocated creating an inspector general position in the city that would be empowered to not only investigate a chief of police, but other department heads.

He supports Proposition 1 on the November ballot, which would criminalize camping within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, playground and day care facilities, and Measure 1, which would raise sales taxes to raise $1.7 billion for a new jail and other criminal justice investments.

He supports a re-allocation of officers into traffic enforcement units, which have been depleted due to overall staffing shortages, he said. While he acknowledged that traffic enforcement would likely continue to take a backseat to responding to violent crimes, Cathcart said he would be willing to dip into a dedicated traffic calming fund paid for by tickets from red light and speeding cameras to pay specifically for traffic enforcement officers.

However, Cathcart said that he is wary of calls by Mayor Nadine Woodward to take more from the traffic calming fund to pay for more officer positions across the board.

“We need to significantly increase our number of officers, but to do it by sweeping funds from a dedicated account that we’ve committed to using for this specific purpose just isn’t the right way,” he said.

Cathcart acknowledged frustrations from some neighborhood councils who have requested traffic calming investments and have been slow to see the infrastructure improvements they’ve asked for, and would like to see an investment in expanding the capacity of the city Public Works Department to build out those improvements.

Cathcart is one of Woodward’s few regular allies on the City Council, sharing her opposition to most tax increases and standing alongside her during press conferences announcing the mayor’s various public safety initiatives, most recently at the troubled intersection of Second Street and Division Avenue.

Cathcart recently voted against an effort to denounce Woodward for her Aug. 20 appearance alongside former state Rep. Matt Shea.

But Cathcart takes pride in the times that he has confronted his own team, pointing to his willingness to criticize the mayoral administration over financial transparency and management. He led a bipartisan effort in the last year to put additional guardrails around the city budget, including a provision to force the administration to keep the council more in the loop, which Woodward vetoed.

Without being asked, Cathcart pre-emptively offered that he was not beholden to his campaign donors, many of which are development interest. He noted his opposition to a recent change in city law that removed parking minimum standards for new development, which developers and real estate interest groups lobbied for.

“I’m nobody’s rubber stamp,” Cathcart said.

Cathcart’s voting history on the council is fully viewable on the city’s website. Some marquee initiatives include leading local efforts to criminalize public drug use and an effort to bring a proposition to voters next spring that would limit the City Council’s ability to draw its own districts. He has recently worked with Councilwoman Karen Stratton to call for transparency from the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service, which has been accused of inappropriately euthanizing dogs in its shelter.

He has also highlighted his past work on restricting homeless camping in certain areas, collaborating 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 the impact shelters have on surrounding residences and businesses.

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 state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, who is now the county treasurer.

Later, he worked with the Spokane Homebuilders Association and then the pro-business organization Better Spokane, where he was the executive director. He also served for a time as the Emerson Garfield Neighborhood Council chair.

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


On issue after issue, Shaw comes back to the same basic principles: as local leaders are faced with the problems of the day, she wants to see them respond with a focus on compassion and community.

She wants to see better investment in programs to bring community members from different walks of life together, and is more interested in funding services to provide the homeless with dignity than she is with penalizing them.

She is wary of some of the approaches to safety from those currently on the City Council, as well as her opponent. As a parent, she said she understands the concerns some have about safety in area parks, for instance.

But she questioned the wisdom of increased penalties for drug users and for being in the park after hours, and believes Proposition 1 would be ineffective and would not help house the homeless.

“I have a family member who has struggled most of his life, and I’ve seen how jail doesn’t really heal anything,” she said in an interview shortly after announcing her candidacy. “I understand while walking down the street with my kids, (open drug use) is not what I want them to experience, but I would love a destigmatized solution.”

She believes that Proposition 1, which would make it a citable offense to camp on public property near schools, parks and child care facilities, would be ineffective and cruel.

She is nearly as skeptical of Measure 1. While she believes the current jail is likely inadequate, she doesn’t believe there is a clear plan for the $1.7 billion that voters will be asked to approve on the November ballot.

Shaw also has taken a bold stance on renter protections, advocating for the City Council to push for stronger guardrails than the highly controversial package of reforms that the council struggled to enact earlier this year.

Shaw wants to limit how often landlords can raise rents and to create a requirement that landlords warn tenants about future rent increase at least 180 days before the rise, she said. She wants to see a universal background check created, which had originally been included in landlord-tenant reforms proposed this spring.

Shaw acknowledges that stronger protections for tenants would face strong pushback. Andy Rathbun, a local landlord who ran unsuccessfully for City Council president earlier this year, campaigned on a platform that argued the city was making it too difficult to be a landlord, forcing them to sell and take rentals off the market.

“I want to believe that you can be a landlord in this city, only raise rent twice a year, and still be able to make money,” Shaw said. “If you don’t want to be a landlord then sell your property. Right now is a great time, right?”

She believes that the city has taken steps in the right direction to encourage the development of new homes, though she believes more targeted incentives or fee reductions could be needed to push growth in the urban core where infrastructure is robust.

Born in Spokane, Shaw left the city as a young woman only to return in 2008 to help her mother run a cafe. She started holding cleanup events around the city, particularly along the Centennial Trail.

Shaw has lived in the Logan Neighborhood for the better part of a decade and has been an active member of the neighborhood council since purchasing her home around eight years ago. She served as that organization’s chair from 2019 until recently.

“As a parent, you realize how important it is to steward the best community that you can,” Shaw said.

During her time with the Logan Neighborhood Council, Shaw said she came to realize that the area’s needs did not seem to be prioritized by city leadership. She pointed particularly to the neighborhood’s requested traffic-calming projects, which she said were repeatedly denied.

In response, Shaw said she would repeatedly bring up the area’s infrastructure needs during city-level discussions about streets, persistent advocacy that she believes helped lead to improvements on Illinois Avenue.