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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Natasha Hill, Ben Stuckart running for state House seat being vacated by Riccelli amid shakeup

Amid a major shakeup of Spokane’s legislative delegation Monday, former Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart and Spokane attorney Natasha Hill announced runs for a seat in the state House being vacated by Rep. Marcus Riccelli.

Riccelli announced Monday afternoon that he will run for the state Senate seat filled by outgoing Sen. Andy Billig.

Hill ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat against U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, in 2022.

“We need someone in our community to step up with a different perspective and I think an overall goal of making sure people with lived experience like mine don’t get left behind,” Hill said. “In Eastern Washington we haven’t had leadership that has been able to address racial equity, for instance.”

Hill has participated in recent protests in City Council chambers alongside Spokane Community Against Racism and other groups over an Oct. 9 resolution in support of Israel in the wake of the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas, and threatened a lawsuit on behalf of SCAR when the City Council attempted to ban certain forms of protest, such as standing during testimony. The council immediately acquiesced and stopped enforcing the rule and on Monday voted to permanently remove that ban.

Stuckart served as Spokane City Council president from 2012 through 2019. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Spokane in 2019, losing to former Mayor Nadine Woodward in the general election. Last month, Stuckart said he was considering running for Congress after McMorris Rodgers announced in February she would not run for re-election, but he opted instead to run for the state Legislature.

Stuckart now serves as the executive director of the housing consortium. In that capacity, he was part of a failed effort to remove Proposition 1, which banned homeless encampments within 1,000 feet of schools, parks and day care centers, from the November ballots. That new law, which passed with nearly 75% voter support, has largely remained unenforced, Spokane police Chief Justin Lundgren said Monday, due to outstanding concerns about its constitutionality and the potential liability that would be taken on by the city.

“People are fed up with high rent, lack of action on mental health, substance abuse and rising costs,” Stuckart wrote in a news release. “The 3rd LD is one of the poorest in the state and we need someone who is not afraid to name the big issues but also has the legislative experience to go to Olympia and solve problems.”

Hill began working as interim editor with family members of the late Sandy Williams late last year to help relaunch The Black Lens, which returned to publication in February. The Black Lens receives some production assistance from current and former members of The Spokesman-Review staff who have volunteered, although the publication is independent from The Spokesman-Review.