Listening, Working Together Is the Way Forward

Brian Coddington, Communications Director, 509.625.6740

Thursday, February 23, 2023 at 3:46 p.m.

Mayor Nadine Woodward urged people to listen to each other, find common ground, and respectfully articulate divergent viewpoints as the pathway to progress today during her annual State of the City Address that stressed listening and working together.

She reminded the 400 attendees that the best times in the city share a few commonalities:  big ideas that turned challenges into opportunities, critical community partnerships that worked effectively across perceived boundaries, and the will to get it done. Spokane, she said, has seen tremendous effort, progress, and much opportunity and is ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

“Community is about more than any one of us, it’s about all of us,” Woodward said. “Our challenge today, as a region, is to embrace the progress, grow with the opportunities, and thrive through the power of partnership.”

While acknowledging there is more work to be done, Woodward talked about advancements in public safety, housing, homelessness, economic development, mental health, and many other critical areas that have made the community safer, more secure, and more sustainable.

“We’ve accomplished so much to build a safer, more secure, and sustainable Spokane, and yet we still have so much left to do,” Woodward said.

She talked about advocacy at the state legislature to return accountability to laws currently allowing drug possession in the state, re-establishing reasonable suspicion as the standard for law enforcement to initiate a pursuit, strengthening property crime laws for repeat offenders, and additional state funding for officers.

Woodward also announced her intention to work with Councilmembers Michael Cathcart and Jonathan Bingle on an ordinance that would return accountability to those who openly use drugs. The proposal will go to the full Council within the next few weeks as another deterrent to get people the help they need while respecting the use of public spaces for everyone, she said.

“The community has demanded we do something about the rampant drug use that occurs on sidewalks, parking lots, stairways, and other very public spaces,” Woodward said.

Woodward outlined three major initiatives the City is working with the community to move forward. Numerous stakeholders have partnered around an Expo Plus-50 celebration that returns the focus to the major investments in regional attractions in downtown. It connects an exciting arts and entertainment district to thriving restaurants, shopping, and hospitality with the river and park in the middle of it all.

That celebration will come together over the next year as work finishes on the new stadium, major events continue to fill up the Podium and the Spokane Arena, the Civic Theatre hosts its full schedule of performances, and Riverfront Park grows as an outdoor venue.

The regional community is also coming together to more effectively and collaboratively address homelessness. The City is one of several voices involved in a conversation about a regional collaborative that can fundamentally change how we provide meaningful services and supports that move people into housing faster, more efficiently, and with greater success.

That conversation, with the help of a consultant, will involve everyone who has a part in visioning, funding, supporting, assisting, moving, and connecting people to services and housing. Spokane, Spokane Valley, and Spokane County have talked extensively about spending the next few months discussing what a longer, more formalized engagement might look like. Members of the private and nonprofit community have already stepped forward in support.

Finally, the City is working closely with its community partners on a regional broadband effort to bring new investment to connect areas with the greatest economic and educational potential for growth. It’s a generational opportunity to establish greater technology equity and economic advancement for generations to come.

“We are a community willing and ready to move forward, to build from our strengths, and meet opportunities head on,” Woodward said. “The feedback we hear consistently focuses on the need to feel safe doing the things we all love about Spokane, to feel secure in our place and being, and to feel a sense of stability as we continue to build and grow our lives.”