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Spokane City Council candidates call for resiliency, equitable climate policy

Gonzaga University

Three City Council candidates and a school board candidate promised to take climate change seriously, and look for ways to promote local environmental policy in a forum Wednesday.

City Council candidates were asked in a climate forum at Gonzaga University’s third annual climate forum whether they would work to make Spokane more resilient, and if they would support climate intervention policies.

Naghmana Sherazi, a candidate for the Northeast Spokane City Council District, called for the city to include communities of color in climate planning.

She also called for the city to invest in light rail, saying it should be the next step after the Central City Line.

“I would like to see that converted as part of our infrastructure plan to be a light rail by electric going around the city, so when we’re done with the infill, and the density and we’re ready for the sprawl.”

Sherazi’s opponent, Jonathan Bingle, declined an invitation to the debate.

Spokane City Councilwoman Betsy Wilkerson, who is running to retain the South city council district, called on the city to develop a long-term plan for climate disasters.

“I will continue to advocate operationalizing our response to climate crisis, IE the warming shelters, the cooling shelters.”

Wilkerson also called for better land use policies, and public transportation, saying the city needs to create an environment where people can live close to where they work.

Wilkerson is running unopposed.

Zack Zappone, a candidate for the northwest city council district, also called for better preparation for climate disasters.

“The future, we need to start planning for it, and right now we don’t have a plan. I think the first thing we need to do is study what will be the impact of climate change on our city, on our most impacted communities, and start creating interventions and ways we can do that.”

Zappone is running against Mike Lish, who did not respond to a forum invitation.

Riley Smith, a Spokane Public School candidate, said he was also concerned about Spokane’s resiliency to climate change. He said he knew of at least one school that was impacted by a power outage recently.

“How are we prepared for that with our students, how can our days continue without interrupting our students learning, do we have backup generation systems because of windstorms. These are things that can happen any given day.”

Smith is running against Kata Dean, who declined an invitation to the forum.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.
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