Jon and John Racing to Get Support for City Council

By Paige Browning

As the days count down to November 5th, city council candidates John Ahern and Jon Snyder are racing to find last minute support. Snyder is fighting to keep the council seat he has held for four years. Ahern is hoping to get involved on the city level after serving as a state representative.

Incumbent Jon Snyder and challenger John Ahern do have some things in common. They both support hiring more police officers, refunding Fire Station 9, and think its time the ombudsman had more authority to conduct investigations.

BUDGET/PUBLIC SAFETY

The list that sets them apart is much longer. One example is whether to support the Mayor’s recommended 2% property tax increase. Snyder supports it, because he says when the city refused the tax increase last year, cuts to public safety were way too deep because of it.
 
Snyder: “I think we saw the impact of those cuts with the loss of the fire engine 9 up on the south hill… I think we’ve also seen the loss of police officers as well. We have so few officers available and so many are pulling overtime.”
 
John Ahern, on the other hand, prides himself on never voting yes for a tax or fee increase while in the state house. And there’s only one way he would support a property tax increase.
 
Ahern: “Well, I look at it this way, put it to a vote of the people. And if they say yes, I’ll back ‘em 100%. But the biggest thing is you’ve got to do a selling job to the public.”
 
But Ahern does want to see the police force grow. The mayor is proposing growing it to 300, and Ahern says he would like to see it closer to 315.
 
Ahern: “The number one purpose of government, no more no less, is protection of its citizens. You do that through fire, police, and your military. One, two, three.”

Snyder’s public safety goals tend towards a comprehensive approach. He wants to build upon the downtown improvement work the city started this fall.
 
Snyder: “And I think the big piece that is still to come, that is missing, is criminal justice. We have a criminal justice commission that in the next few weeks is going to give us some recommendations that I think will be another chance for us to make a dent in crime and have a positive impact.”

CANDIDATE PRIORITIES

Outside of public safety the two Jo(h)ns have different priority lists. John Ahern says he would focus on creating a fire station in the Eagle Ridge/Qualchan area. He wants to meet with the parks department to develop beautification plans for Riverfront Park. And, Ahern thinks Spokane should attract more business by flaunting the benefits of Spokane’s business environment.
 
Ahern: “First of all to attract new businesses in here, we do not have an income tax in the state of Washington. We are one of about seven states that do not have it. Number two, we have the lowest electrical rates in the nation, bar none.”

Jon Snyder, if reelected, would focus on topics he has stood by for four years. He’s heavily involved in traffic related projects that have resulted in more bike lanes and neighborhood infrastructure like roundabouts. Snyder supports reviving more urban dead zones, like Kendall Yards did for west central. And, he says his big focus is walking.

Snyder: “I think a city that people love to walk in is a city that people love to live in. It means that they have places to go, it means that they have sidewalks in good repair, it means that they feel safe… We’ve gotta figure out where are the most important routes, we’ve got to figure out where we have the most use, and we still have handicap access ramps missing from downtown.” 

LAST WORD

Candidates John Ahern and Jon Snyder are vying for Spokane’s city council district two, which represents most of downtown up to the south hill. As far as who is the better candidate, Ahern will joke about his young, tender age- he’s 78- but says he has experience, and experience counts. Snyder says he is a better candidate because he has specific ideas and says he understands government is about working for the people.

Copyright 2013 Spokane Public Radio
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