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Candidates vying to represent Northeast Spokane call for more investment in district, differ on public safety

Courtesy of candidates
Michael Cathcart left, Lindsey Shaw, Right, are running to represent Northeast Spokane on City Council.

Two candidates are vying to represent Northeast Spokane on the city council this fall – incumbent Michael Cathcart and challenger Lindsey Shaw.

The district, which was slightly reshaped after the 2020 census, now includes downtown as an offshoot with Division as its Western border, Trent Avenue on the South, Havanna Street on the East and Hawthorn on the North.

Cathcart won the seat in 2019. He previously worked as former state Senator Michael Baumgartner’s legislative aid, with the Spokane Homebuilders Association, and the pro-business group Better Spokane.

Cathcart said he’s focused on continuing to get more housing built, economic development and improving the city’s fiscal situation.

“There are going to be some real opportunities to do some substantial things,” Cathcart said, “from improving public safety, to improving accessibility at the city, but really, one of the most important things we have to be thinking about right now is how are we going to right size our budget, how are we going to get the budget working appropriately to protect our priorities as a community.”

Shaw has been on the Logan Neighborhood Council for five years, and has worked as a family advocate and engagement coordinator at the Northeast Community Center. She also was a volunteer parent who helped with the recent boundary adjustments at Spokane Public Schools.

She said she’s running out of concern for District 1, which is the city’s lowest-income and most-diverse district. It also now includes the city’s lowest income middle school. She said leaders in Spokane should do more to listen to and invest in the district’s residents.

“I keep seeing people hurting and I don't see anybody advocating for us at the city level, so I am taking all of that, rolling it into passion and running for city council,” she said.

Cathcart said he has been advocating for residents, such as setting up a language access program, collaborating with the Northeast Development Authority and working to make Minnehaha a major park.

“I think that narrative is changing, I think we are seeing a substantial amount of attention being paid to Northeast Spokane,” he said.

Shaw said advocacy should go beyond that, such as pursuing partnerships and funding to expand childcare access, and make it more affordable to families.

“Working connections childcare really changed my family's life and allowed me to go back to work at the community center and grow, and learn as a human through that work,” she said.

Both candidates say they’d like to see more infill in the district to make housing more affordable, but disagree on tenant protections the city council approved. Cathcart has said the rules give tenants a false sense of security and could increase housing costs. Shaw said the city council should be doing more to protect tenants from becoming homeless.

They also differ in their approach to public safety. Cathcart supported a pilot to greatly increase police presence at Second and Division, an area known for drug use, crime and homelessness.

He said the city needs to do more address theft, vandalism and flagrant drug dealing downtown.

“It’s everywhere, and that is just not acceptable, and how some people can say that's OK is beyond me,” he said.

Shaw said she’s worried the real impact of things like the Second and Division crackdown is criminalizing homelessness and poverty. She said she’s also concerned about Prop 1, a ballot measure that would outlaw homeless camping sites across a significant portion of Spokane.

“If we could stop criminalizing trauma, and start addressing behavioral health, and start addressing that addiction is a disease and it could happen to anyone, I think we will start seeing a change,” she said.

Shaw and Cathcart’s race haven’t seen quite as much spending as others on the ballot.

Cathcart has raised about $66,000, according to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission. Donors that have contributed the most including several members of the Gee family, one of which owns Gee Automotive, building and construction groups such as Spokane Association of Realtors and the Spokane Home Builders Association.

He has benefited from independent expenditures, about $40,000 from the National Association of Realtors and the Spokane Good Governance Alliance, which has seen large donations from local real estate owner Larry Stone, Gee Automotive Companies and Washington Trust Bank.

The group has spent a little more than $2,600 against Shaw. Fuse Washington, a progressive political group, has spent about $137 on her behalf.

Shaw has raised nearly $51,000 in campaign contributions. The donors who have contributed the most include unions, such as the Spokane Firefighters Pac, the Washington Education Association and the plumbers and steamfitter’s union. She’s also seen support from Don Barbieri and Sharon Smith, two wealthy local progressives who have contributed to many left-leaning campaigns and causes.

Both candidates have received more than half of their campaign funds from individual donations.

Ballots will be mailed out beginning Friday, October 20, and must be returned by November 7.


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.