AP NEWS

Mike Fagan running for Spokane City Council president

April 10, 2019

Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan is running for the council’s highest position.

Fagan, the lone conservative voice on the council, would have reached his term limit this year. The City Council president’s seat is the only one on the council to be elected citywide, and is held by Ben Stuckart, who is running for mayor.

In December, Fagan said he was considering a run, but wouldn’t file without his family’s support.

Fagan said he hoped to refocus the council’s efforts on what he sees as the city’s biggest issues – solving property crime, fixing streets and homelessness – instead of spending time on immigration issues or environmental legislation.

Fagan, who represents northeast Spokane, has opposed the majority liberal City Council on several issues, such as keeping immigration enforcement out of the city-owned Intermodal Center, where law enforcement is boarding buses and questioning bus riders about their immigration status.

In his comments Tuesday and when the proposal was discussed last fall, Fagan linked undocumented immigration to drugs and said U.S. Border Patrol agents should be able to do their job.

He has also sided with the mayor against the city’s sustainability law, which will require the city to use renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions by 2030.

He said constituents in his council district, or citywide, are likely more concerned about streets and finding long-term solutions to reduce property crime, than social issues.

“Social justice issues are important, hearing from all your constituents is important,” Fagan said. “But I don’t think that the social justice issues that we’ve had occasion to hear up until this particular point in time deserved the amount of priority and attention that they had been given.”

He said the city has also responded to the growing visibility of homelessness in Spokane by “shooting from the hip” and spending millions of dollars on things like warming centers, yet hasn’t equipped police officers to address the issue, leaving them demoralized.

He said the city’s plan to purchase one or more buildings for a 24/7 shelter should include behavioral health or other services on-site to ensure people have easy access to services that may help them get out of homelessness. He said homeless activists who regularly testify at City Hall have repeatedly asked for more services without the expectation that people staying in shelters work to change their own circumstances.

“I’m compassionate, I am kind, I have taken in the homeless,” he said. “At the end of the day, I have no problem doing that as long as I am assured of getting something in return. That would be just a simple commitment that you are going to do what you can to change your condition, to change your life.”

Fagan, an Army veteran, co-hosts a conservative radio show and has worked with anti-tax activist Tim Eyman to launch several statewide initiatives.

He was a longtime Hillyard Neighborhood leader when he first won his seat on the council in 2011. He was re-elected in 2015.

Fagan is running against fellow council member and civil rights lawyer Breean Beggs as well as former Spokane NAACP leader Phillip Tyler, who has been accused of domestic violence by multiple ex-wives. Tyler has denied abusing women. Tyler announced he was running in November and said he was encouraged by the many Democrats who won seats in the midterm elections and hoped to bring different parties together.

Tyler could not be reached for comment.

Beggs said he was looking forward to running a campaign against several candidates, but he believed most of Spokane shared his values toward criminal justice and the need for affordable housing.

“I’m a big believer in voters having choices,” he said. “So three people is good, we all have different approaches. But I believe I’m the most qualified to bring the city and council together.”