EMBRACE THE CHANGE
Jess Walter hit the ball out of the park in his description of what Spokane was, is, and could continue to become ("Who Runs This Place?" 10/3/19). Since I moved back to Spokane three years ago, I have been overwhelmingly thrilled with what the city has become. The life, the energy, the development, the neighborhoods. There is opportunity. There's culture. And great beer, and food, and commerce. And there are wonderful people who live in awesome, weird and diverse neighborhoods.
This mayoral election feels critical in continuing to steer this ship toward more of what turns Spokane residents into Spokane lifers.
I was raised on the South Hill and now live in Five Mile, or "Canada," as my South Hill friends call it. I pass my time in every neighborhood in between. I feel palpable tension between the community I was raised in and the ones in which I am currently more deeply invested. And that tension is bleeding — in porous fashion — into this election. It feels largely rooted in fear. People are afraid of others who are not as financially fortunate. Low income housing developments are perceived as burdensome. There's a sense that the gates to southern comfort have been overrun by outsiders. And in this election, there is a candidate who seems driven by this fear, and another who understands, embraces and represents a much larger, more diverse constituency.
The latter — that's my guy.
I will vote for the candidate who shares in my celebration of our city as more beautiful and culturally diverse than at any previous point in my lifetime — even with our "homeless problem."
Homeless people are people, by the way, not problems. "Homelessness" is the problem (splitting hairs, maybe, but words matter) — but certainly there are compassionate ways to help our brothers and sisters who are sleeping in the streets, right? Does anybody really believe that intensified police presence downtown will resolve the matrix of issues for our underserved and oft-neglected neighbors that led to their being without a roof over their heads? Or do we just not really care, as long as they are out of sight and therefore out of mind? It's a complex conversation that often hasn't involved a sense of caring about the people.
Folks are rightfully weary of politicians anymore, and "fresh blood" in a political election is commonly placed in the "pro" column of the voting consideration list. But I see great value in the candidate who has done civic improvement work for many years, and who understands what makes our all-American city so lovable, because it hasn't always been.
I, too, have become irrationally proud of our city. I can't speak on behalf of all young people, but this city has just about everything that this 27-year-old dude could ask for — besides a major league baseball team (can't have everything).