Pin It

Mr. Out There 

Spokane’s newest city councilman talks electric cars, complete streets and the progressive mandate

click to enlarge Councilman Jon Snyder - TAMMY MARSHALL
  • Tammy Marshall
  • Councilman Jon Snyder

Jon Snyder’s swearing-in ceremony last week featured a performance by Jim Boyd and a quotation of the old lefty folksinger Utah Phillips.

Not your typical afternoon in Spokane’s City Council chambers, but Snyder is not your typical City Council member. Yes, he’s a small-business owner and a white male, but the 40-year-old publisher of Out There Monthly is also a bike-riding, unapologetic progressive, who’s more likely to be seen digging through crates of old vinyl than gladhanding at the Spokane Club.

Two days into his new gig, the new council member sat down with us at the Rocket Bakery to talk about acclimation and what’s down the road for the city of Spokane.

INLANDER: Do your and Amber Waldref’s victories represent a progressive mandate?

SNYDER: I think you could say it’s a little bit of a [mandate]. I feel that that progressive wave has always been there in the city [but] it hasn’t always been represented by the folks on City Council. Both me and Amber definitely have strong progressive tendencies, but we also are really concerned about things that are hard to label — things that are really bipartisan, that, when it comes right down to it, it’s just a matter of economic development.

So what are some of those things on the Jon Snyder agenda?

I really think it’s time that the city looks really hard at adopting a complete streets policy. I mean whenever we re-do a street, we do it for all users — cars, bikes, pedestrians, public transit, the disabled and traffic calming. And that doesn’t mean that every single street gets every possible enhancement. It just means we follow the Comprehensive Plan, we follow the bike plan, and I hope we adopt a master pedestrian plan, at the city or the county level.

You’re big on diversifying our modes of transportation. How do we do it here?

There are a couple things that are being looked at right now: a downtown trolley and electric bus rapid transit. Those things are in their early stages.

I also think that now is the time for the city to get on the electric car bandwagon. The state of Washington has a whole bill that was passed last year talking about electronic car infrastructure. Seattle is gonna be a pilot city for the Nissan Leaf, one of the first plug-in hybrids to be sold domestically. They’re gonna get, I believe, 5,000 vehicles next fall. To prepare for that, they’re putting in [up to 2,550] electric car charging stations. I want people to be able to drive their Leafs from Seattle to Spokane. So I think Spokane is, by virtue of being in the state of Washington, in a good spot to take advantage of that.

It can be difficult to make an argument for these kinds of big projects at a time when the city is facing a $7 million shortfall.

I think it’s really easy to make that argument. What costs us money is when we have to go in and put in a bike lane or a sidewalk or some sort of traffic calming enhancement years later. It has to be done — like they’re proposing to do it up on Lincoln — all at once. It costs the city money not having this complete streets policy. We don’t want that stuff piecemeal. We need to do it comprehensively. It saves money… If we can get even a half percent of folks in this town to bike to work more than they are now, we see tangible dividends. The more costly option is to not act on that.

Do you expect to use your voice as a newspaper publisher to get your message out?

I don’t expect to use Out There any more than I already have. The things that Out There covers will always be connected to the environment, outdoor recreation. There’s no reason to change that. But I do think that being really proactive with your message [is a good idea]. Some people in city government work so hard that they forget to tell people what they’re doing. That’s unfortunate. I already have a Website — councilmanjonsnyder. com. [That] will have a blog, it’ll have my calendar. They can see what meetings I’m going to. I’m gonna send out a monthly e-mail newsletter that I encourage everybody to sign up to. Anything I can do to help increase that fl ow of information I think would be great.


  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • OK, Hold Your Nose
  • OK, Hold Your Nose

    Everything you need to know before Election Day
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Base of Support
  • Base of Support

    Polling local leaders and opinion-makers about presidential politics
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • The Messenger
  • The Messenger

    Local leaders weigh in on how Donald Trump's campaign has impacted racism in America
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
Sculpting Mammoth Animals with Peter Thomas

Sculpting Mammoth Animals with Peter Thomas @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Sat., Sept. 24, Sun., Sept. 25 and Sun., Oct. 2

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Joel Smith

Most Commented On

  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Murrow's Nightmare

    Debate moderators need to be much more than an onstage prop to make our democracy work
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

election 2016

trail mix


green zone


Readers also liked…

  • The <i>Real</i> Rachel Dolezal
  • The Real Rachel Dolezal

    The story goes far beyond just a white woman portraying herself as black
    • Jun 17, 2015
  • Hopeless for Heroin
  • Hopeless for Heroin

    As heroin deaths continue to rise in Washington state, what can a parent do to save a child from the depths of addiction?
    • Jul 29, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation