This week we're continuing our series profiling Spokane City Council candidates who expect to file for office in three weeks
We’re introducing Naghmana Sherazi.
Sherazi currently works in the office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Gonzaga University, but is also a scientist. She previously studied chromosomes and DNA to search for cancer and other genetic mutations.
She is an immigrant from Pakistan, is a renter, a working mother and said she knows what it’s like to struggle to make ends meet.
“There is so many people like me in my district who are facing hardship. COVID-19 has brought that to the forefront.”
She said one area she’s focused on is making sure that City Council keeps the Northeast region of the city in mind when allocating COVID-19 recovery funds, saying many businesses in that area were missed in past allotments.
“There were so many barriers to people. They needed so much energy and so much effort for people, small businesses to apply for those grants and get that money. There are plenty of examples where people gave up, or they didn’t bother, or they didn’t qualify.”
She said the next aid needs to be more accessible, and efforts need to be made to reach out to renters and those behind on their utility bills as well.
Sherazi said also has concerns about the recent police contract the city council approved, saying the Spokane Police Guild was still given authority over what the ombudsmen is allowed to say.
“The ombudsmen office needs to be independent of police oversight. Otherwise, they’re not in a position to call a spade a spade.”
She also called for careful scrutiny of police budgets to monitor the use of city funds for militarized police equipment, and more investment and use of mental health experts.
“De-escalation tactics can be very challenging for police officers when dealing with mental health crisis. Mental health experts can achieve a level of trust and safety that might not be possible with just the police on their own, alone.”
Sherazi is running for a seat in Spokane City Council District 1, which includes part of East Central, the Logan neighborhood around Gonzaga University and Hillyard. She is running against Jonathan Bingle and Luc Jasmin III.
Stories with all three candidates are airing this week and full interviews with each will be posted online at spokanepublicradio.org.