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City Council District 2 Candidate Breean Beggs

Three challengers are looking to unseat Spokane city councilman Breean Beggs in Spokane’s second District, which covers much of the south hill.

All three opponents say Beggs and the current city are wasting time on frivolous issues, and should stick to the more important business of running a city and focus on basic issues.

Today we look Beggs' own read on how he and the council have been doing.

Breean Beggs was appointed to fill the seat held by former councilman Jon Snyder , who resigned early. Before he joined the council, Beggs had worked as an activist attorney, and was known for his work with the family of Otto Zehm, who died at the hands of the Spokane Police, and also for his work on the police Ombudsman issue.

In the year and a half since he became a member of the council, Beggs feels the chamber has made some major strides. He says his challengers during the primary have tried to paint a picture of a council that focuses on issues of little importance to the average citizen, but that is not the case. Beggs says, “Roads, were spending more money on roads than we ever have. We have more construction value investment in this town in the last couple of years than we’ve ever had. Essentially since the new council took over in 2014, business investment in this town is going up, unemployment is going down. Since I have been on the council crime is going down. So we are doing the peoples work, but if people want a change they focus on one thing out of context essentially.”

He also discounts those who say the council is comprised mostly of progressives with lone standout being conservative Mike Fagan.

Beggs says there are actually many varying opinions on the council, and not all agree on every issue. He says too many people base the councils work on what happens at the Monday night meetings, when in fact, much of the real work happens throughout the week in committee meetings, where he says, he has worked to find compromise on various issues. “So I am known as a collaborator, and since I got on the council we have actually improved relations with the mayor’s office. Mike Fagan and I sit next to each other. We often vote together on the same thing. We work together on projects the rest of the majority doesn’t like.”

On some other specific issues, Beggs defends his actions in helping to craft a measure that seeks to require coal and oil train shippers to meet certain safety requirements, or pay a fine. He says the new Bakken crude oil, with it’s history of causing massive fires during derailments poses a very real threat to the safety of downtown Spokane.

And he says his critics are wrong when they say the city does not have the authority to require railroads to meet certain safety standards. Beggs says, “That’s been misunderstood. Congress passed a law that said local jurisdictions can pass safety laws o trains if it’s a unique danger and not too burdensome. And the ninth circuit court of appeals upheld that law. So the thing that’s in front of voters is simply what Congress wanted to happen, and the voters decide.”

On the public safety issue, Beggs is defending himself over charges that a so called “sugar tax” on soft drinks he is supporting to fund new police officers is unfair. He says that was one option that was favored by citizens groups he met with.  “They want more police, and asked me to explore ways they could vote on a tax that would give them more police. And I went all across the south hill to the neighborhood councils and I asked them, do you want more taxes to reduce crime? And they all said yes. And I just gave them the choices, it’s a property tax, a sales tax or an excise tax on sugary sodas, and said what do you want?”

All this week, we have been taking a look at the candidates for the second district city council seat. The primary ballots need to be mailed back by Tuesday, August first. The election stories are also on our website, Spokane Public

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.