SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — Current city councilor Breean Beggs is the next Spokane City Council President.
Cindy Wendle conceded on Nov. 14 after a vote count showed she trailed Beggs by 503 votes. The lead extended to 957 votes by the final count.
"Though I came up just short in votes, I hold my head high at having fought the good fight and finished the race," Wendle said in a statement. "For those considering public service, the experience is worth it, no matter the outcome."
The race for Spokane's City Council President seat was extremely close, with Wendle leading from Election Day to Nov. 12. On Tuesday, Beggs took a slim lead of just seven votes.
"It's been a long road and kind of gripping for everyone. Every night we would get the results and email them out to my family and put on Facebook to my supporters, get all the texts back from people. It was steady progress so that was really good," Beggs told KREM 2's Mark Hanrahan.
Beggs said when Wendle called to concede she was very gracious and congratulatory. They also compared notes on going through a really hard campaign, he said.
"We're looking forward to getting together to have coffee and really we both learned a lot on the campaign. And I'm going to take advantage of her insights to help me lead going forward," Beggs said.
Beggs' lead grew on Nov. 13 to more than 300 votes, then on Nov. 14 to more than 500.
The election will be certified on Nov. 26.
One issue Beggs plans to tackle is homelessness, with the new South Cannon Street warming center as a short-term solution and a people-first approach in the long-term.
"You gotta reach people where they are, if they have a mental health issue, a substance abuse issue, a better job to afford this increased housing cost. You gotta meet them where they are, treat them dignity, and work together with the County and City of Spokane Valley – and we’ve been doing that, it’s just that the forces against us have been hard," Beggs told Hanrahan.
Jewels Helping Hands, the nonprofit that was awarded a $750,000 contract to run the new warming center, has to meet a set of stipulations that protect the city from theft, among other things, amid issues raised last week about each of the founding members. The city has given Jewels Helping Hands until Nov. 22 to complete the requirements.
Though mayor-elect Nadine Woodward and Beggs don't necessarily agree on ways to tackle homelessness, he doesn't anticipate problems with the two working together toward progress.
“We’re both committed to the best for the city," he added.
Beggs also hopes to address Spokane's housing crisis, the need for more affordable housing and the jail. He told Hanrahan that he thinks Spokane is spending too much money on imprisoning non-violent offenders.
The Spokane City Council will now likely maintain a 6-1 liberal majority, as the council will appoint a new councilor to replace Beggs, who was in the middle of his term.
For a full list of results in Eastern Washington and North Idaho, visit KREM's Election page.