SPOKANE, Wash. — Former Spokane NAACP President Phillip Tyler announced his run for Spokane City Council President on Tuesday.
Hours later, current council member Breean Beggs said he may challenge Tyler for the position and would announce his decision in the next few weeks.
Beggs gave this statement to KREM 2:
"Community Members across the City have been urging me to run for Council President for several months. If I run, it will be on a record of almost three years of service on City Council that has brought tremendous new economic investments to the City, some of the largest spending on street reconstruction in Spokane history, reduced crime rates and demonstrated collaboration with the administration, councilmembers and the community to jointly achieve these results. I am close to a final decision and look forward to sharing it in the next few weeks."
The election will happen on Nov. 5, 2019.
Tyler released the following statement on Tuesday:
“I am pleased to announce my campaign for the City of Spokane position of Council President, and offer my campaign theme, ‘Positively Spokane.’ I believe that Spokane’s unique challenges will be solved by Spokane’s unique citizens. My theme also is my commitment to running a positive campaign.
What’s positive about today’s political climate some have asked? First, our region has just experienced record-setting voter turnout. Second, voters have overwhelmingly supported our public schools and public libraries. Third, Spokane’s own Senator Andy Billig has just been elected by his peers to serve as Washington State Senate Majority Leader, which is a bipartisan win for our city, by a highly bipartisan civil servant. These are just a few examples of a positive and forward thinking electorate and increased leadership for Eastern Washington.
Over the next campaign year, I look forward to a lot of listening as we explore positively Spokane solutions in the important areas of citizen safety, economic development, homelessness and so many others. My campaign will set the tone for my hopeful service which will decrease the sometimes contentious city council.”
Tyler said he was inspired to run for many reasons, one being the recent voter turnout.
"It shows that our electorate is really engaged and involved in local level politics, which is very important to me," he said.
Ben Stuckart, a Spokane native and Gonzaga University graduate, is currently serving in his second term as city council president. In April, he announced his plans to run for mayor in 2019.
Current Mayor David Condon's term ends in late 2019.
"I wake up every morning trying to make Spokane a better city," Stuckart said at his announcement. "Not a new Boise, not a new Portland or the next Seattle. Our city has too much history, too much grit and too much intestinal fortitude."
In March, Tyler denied several abuse and harassment allegations, claiming they were a “smear campaign.” He, along with Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl, Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer and Mayor David Condon, took part in a video that calls for men to take a stand against sexual harassment and sexual assault.
After this video, some people came forward expressing concerns about Tyler spearheading this kind of campaign. The Inlander ran an article using interviews and court records from Tyler's three ex-wives. In that article, each tells a similar story of abuse from years ago. Tyler denies their accounts of what happened.
Tyler said Tuesday that his response to these allegations does not change now that he is running for public office.
"Some of these items that have been brought forward as I announce my campaign, are unfortunate--not only for me, but also those who I hoped moved on long since with their life after these circumstances. Regrettable as they may be, they're decades old. And yet I still remain committed to a positive discussion in Spokane about our future," Tyler said.
Through a public records request, KREM 2 learned Tyler was previously considering a run for a vacant city council position but one of his ex-wives emailed Council President Ben Stuckart asking him not to appoint Tyler.
"Please don't appoint Phillip Tyler to the vacant position on the city council. He is not someone with integrity, which I think is essential for that position. He has a violent history which I know about firsthand. I lived with domestic violence from him starting in 1986 as his 18-year-old wife. We divorced in 1990. I felt, at the time, it was useless to report the abuse because he was an Air Force police officer. He seems to have developed a new persona now but that doesn't change true character. I am from Spokane and have always loved it here and I believe that that this great city should be represented by honorable people. Phillip Tyler has dark secrets from his past that his supporters don't realize. I am not one to make waves, but I thought you should know about this," the email said.
KREM 2 reached out to the rest of the city council on Tuesday for response to Tyler's announcement.
Council member Kate Burke said, "I can't imagine what the women are going through today after hearing this announcement. I want the community to know I stand with women and survivors of domestic violence and assault."
She did say council member Beggs has been one of the best colleagues to work with and if he ran for council president it would be "fabulous."
Tyler currently serves a crime prevention and education officer at Gonzaga University and previously worked for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. He enlisted in the United States Air Force shortly after graduating from Joel E. Ferris High School in 1985 and attained an E-5 rank.
Tyler is married and a father of three.