Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Spokane Home Builders Association endorses Ben Stuckart for Council President

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 4:20 PM

The Spokane Home Builders Association is known as being one of the most powerful conservative groups in the city of Spokane.

Last year, when former Inlander writer Heidi Groover explored the nature of the group, City Councilman Jon Snyder called them "basically an arm of the Republican party in the city." They even endorsed far-right Spokane Valley Rep. Matt Shea (and his opponent, Josh Arritola.) And they've previously endorsed John Ahern. So it's no surprise that they've endorsed Mike Fagan for Spokane City Council or Arne Woodard for Spokane Valley Council.
Spokane Home Builders Association government affairs director Michael Cathcart
Spokane Home Builders Association government affairs director Michael Cathcart

But it is surprising that the Home Builders opted to endorse the liberal City Council President Ben Stuckart over Ahern.

It isn't the first time the Home Builders have thrown support toward a liberal — Groover noted they gave a small donation to former Mayor Mary Verner's 2005 race for city council. And government affairs director Michael Cathcart has objected to the label of "conservative."

"It’s a non-partisan race," Stuckart says. He's clashed loudly with the home builders on issues like vesting and growth, but notes the way he and the home builders have worked together on in-fill development issues.

"I made sure to include them in the sick-leave stakeholder group," Stuckart says. "I think this does go to show that you may not align with someone — but if we can work together on bigger issues that affect Spokane, we’re all the better for it." 

But for the Home Builders, why not a dual endorsement, like with the Shea/Arritola race?

"Our endorsement committee looked at the race, and I think they tend to prefer not to do dual endorsements. We’ve done them. But we prefer not to. I think they looked at the race and said, you know, it just makes sense to support the council president, " Cathcart says. "He’s reached out to us quite a bit. We feel like we’re building a relationship with him. He’s the front-runner in the race, there’s no doubt about that."

Even on areas where they clash — as with sick leave — Cathcart appreciates the way that Stuckart has sought to include their input. And there's another reason the Home Builders endorsed Stuckart:

"Really, if we are going to see Spokane grow and flourish we’re going to have to have some sustained leadership," Cathcart says. "Hopefully we’ll have four more years of continuity."

And in a city that hasn't reelected a Mayor since 1973, continuity is a rare commodity. 

The entire endorsement is posted below. Emphasis added. 
If Spokane is going to realize any long term vision, we need sustained leadership. This means not just re-electing the Mayor, but re-electing the Council President as well. Some continuity will go a long way for our City and, despite their differences, Mayor Condon and Council President Stuckart appear to work well together. It’s no secret that, throughout his first term, Council President Stuckart and our Association haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. However, we have found more and more willingness by the Council President to work with us and ensure our points of view are part of the conversation.

It’s our desire to continue exploring the opportunities to work with the Council President, especially in the areas we agree, such as: publicly opposing Envision Spokane’s anti-business/anti-growth initiative proposals; working to develop an available and buildable lands study; and efforts to incentivize in-fill development and allow urban style projects in and around our centers and corridors. In addition, the Council President voted last year in favor of the ordinance, backed by the SHBA, which eliminated Spokane’s Copper Pipe Mandate. Although we have disagreements, we appreciated his willingness to appoint us to the Mandatory Sick Leave Workgroup. It is encouraging to hear him say he only wants a very minimal sick leave policy and that he wants to leave minimum wage discussions to the state.

It’s our hope that the next City Council will focus on economic growth and development and we want to be right there working with them to advance those goals.

We are supporting Ben Stuckart, but we want to be clear that we maintain the utmost respect for his opponent John Ahern. John served his constituents well during his decade long tenure in the Washington State House of Representatives and we supported his 2013 bid for a Spokane City Council seat. John has been a friend to the Association and we wish him well, but we do not believe that he is the best candidate in this instance.

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About The Author

Daniel Walters

A lifelong Spokane native, Daniel Walters is the Inlander's senior investigative reporter. But he also reports on a wide swath of other topics, including business, education, real estate development, land use, and other stories throughout North Idaho and Spokane County.He's reported on deep flaws in the Washington...