SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane mayoral candidates Ben Stuckart and Nadine Woodward answered voters’ questions on Friday night during Speak Up Spokane: KREM’s Mayor Debate.
All of the questions came from Spokane voters, through email video submissions, social media and in-person interviews. Some questions also came from the Facebook Live comments.
Watch the Facebook Live replay of the debate:
Question #1: Is Spokane's infrastructure ready for growth?
Woodward said Spokane needs to do a better job of keeping traffic flowing and should stop narrowing arterials.
"I cannot believe the congestion in Spokane," she said.
Stuckart said the real congestion in Spokane is on Regal and Indian Trail Road. He also touted the walkable neighborhood development on Sprague and Monroe, where businesses have seen significant economic growth.
Question #2: What is your position on the fluoridation of Spokane’s drinking water?
Question #3: How are you going to make our city safer?
Both Stuckart and Woodward said they support increasing the number of police officers in Spokane. But they disagreed on how to fund the new officers.
Stuckart supports the public safety levy that passed last year, which will fund more officers, as well as fire personnel and crime reduction programming.
Woodward said Spokane needs to spend "within our means" and said that is one of her top priorities along with public safety.
Question #4: What is something nice you can say about your opponent?
Question #5: What are your weaknesses as a candidate that you hope to improve on throughout your experience as mayor?
Stuckart said he is "go, go, go a lot of the time and I want to get things done, and that comes across as impatient."
Woodward said she is a "very results-oriented person" and serving as mayor would "be a test of patience."
The next set of questions about homelessness, which was the top concern for many people who submitted debate questions.
Question #6: What are you going to do for the homeless when it gets colder outside?
Question #7: Should homeless services be limited to those who are clean and sober?
Question #8: How will you handle downtown's homeless issues?
Question #9: How do you plan to keep students safe in areas with homeless issues?
Both Stuckart and Woodward said more police officers downtown would increase student safety near areas where there is higher density of homelessness. But they disagreed about other ways to keep students safe.
Stuckart said creating more density downtown, building low-income housing, and opening more shelters and warming centers will reduce the amount of homeless people who are on the streets.
Woodward said she wants to give homeless people help who want it, but she wants to hold them accountable at the same time.
Question #10: Are more police officers the only way to make Spokane safer?
Woodward said "it's a great first step," but other things could help, including more people living and working downtown, and supporting neighborhood watch programs.
Stuckart said Spokane needs a plan to create housing downtown, which includes creating a public parking authority to build parking garages. That way, development could happen on existing parking lots. He also talked about creating housing around neighborhood business centers.
Question #11: How do you plan to make Spokane more resilient to climate change?
Question #12: For many of us the high cost of housing and rentals is a painful reality. What are your plans to address this issue and how fast can you put it into action?
Question #13: How would you feel about allowing security guards and teachers in schools to carry a gun in a locked safe?
Question #14: What are you going to do about the bad road conditions in Spokane?
Question #15: What is your leadership style and why will it be an asset as mayor?
"I like to get a lot done. Sometimes I get impatient and I'm very direct," Stuckart said.
Stuckart said he's very collaborative to work with.
"Anyone who's ever worked for me has only positive things to say," he said.
Woodward said she's led diverse newsrooms in her three decades in journalism, and the skills of a journalist - including listening, engaging and reaching out - "plays very well into a number of roles."
Woodward also said she's a small business owner, understands budgets, is a pragmatist and will continue Mayor Condon's responsible fiscal policies.
Watch the full debate, in three parts, below: