Climate Change Forum brings local politics and climate issues to GU | New

On October 5, Gonzaga University hosted the fourth annual Spokane Candidates Forum on Climate Change in the Cataldo Globe Room. There were two segments, the first for Legislative District races and the second for Spokane County Commissioner.

Of the eight legislative candidates invited, four did not respond or declined the invitation. Moderator Brian G. Henning, director of the Center for Climate, Society and the Environment, told the audience to do with it what you want.

The candidates for the forum were Representative Timm Ormsby for Position 2 in Legislative District 3, Representative Marcus Riccelli and Scotty Nicol for Position 1 in Legislative District 3, and Michaela Kelso for Position 2 in Legislative District 6.

Questions were presented by GU seniors Ben Brown and Laurel Burlingame. Brown is a double major in environmental studies and economics, and Burlingame is a double major in psychology and sociology. About 115 community members participated.

None of the candidates denied climate change during the forum.

“It’s an existential threat to all of us, especially our children,” Riccelli said.

Forum questions covered topics such as road user fees, city growth plans, environmental migration and community incentives.

“I think if we’re going to solve the tougher issues, we have to engage with the generation that will have to implement those changes,” Ormsby said.

Ormsby said his value is focused on improving the systems in place to address the future.

“I come from the labor movement and it’s no coincidence that we call each other brothers and sisters,” Ormsby said. “Because we fight together…we have to solve these problems collectively.”

Marcus Riccelli has focused on creating what he calls “green collar jobs” and has treated climate change as an existential threat. He coaches a little league soccer team, and the wildfire season disrupted the soccer season. He said he imagined a greener Spokane where he wouldn’t have to keep his team indoors for weeks.

“I want every child in Spokane to have the opportunity to thrive, regardless of their zip code,” Riccelli said.

Scotty Nicol is a 29-year-old first-time contestant who grew up playing in the Spokane River.

“My top priority is public safety,” Nicol said. “I have a very friendly relationship with our police department.”

During the forum, Nicol focused directly on easing liability laws to increase condominium production in Spokane. Nicol said the condos would be built with sustainability and community in mind and have an impact on reducing carbon footprints.

Michaela Kelso is also a first-time nominee. A US Army veteran with more than a decade of military intelligence experience, she grew up in Germany and said their housing density practices were an example of sustainability and worth inspiring here at home.

Kelso said she is focused on ensuring that those without privileges are not left behind in the transition to sustainability. She said new taxes would particularly affect her rural constituents.

The second part of the forum was intended for candidate county commissioners. Ten candidates were invited and all but four declined the invitation.

Candidate Chris Jordan spoke of an opportunity to create a more sustainable future while helping the most people.

“We have a housing crisis here,” Jordan said. “It’s a big obstacle to entering the middle class. We need to get smarter as a community. It makes sense to focus growth around business centers and public transit. »

Jordan said he envisions Spokane as a walkable city so citizens can access local small businesses with minimal climate impact.

Spokane City Council member Michael Cathcart took a budget-centric approach. He said he was focusing on developing empty spaces in the city by zoning small and tiny lots. He said he wanted to focus on cross-departmental engagement as a way to cut costs.

“We’re heading into a recession, so we’ll have tough fiscal choices to make,” Cathcart said. “We will take advantage of all the resources the state gives us access to.”

“I’m really excited about the Cut Inflation Act,” said candidate Amber Waldref. “It will inspire people to build things in America, and hopefully we can be a leader and benefit from that here in Spokane.”

Waldref said she wanted to focus on creative solutions and effectively use all the tools at her disposal.

Bill Schreiner, also known as Wild Bill, said his current county commissioner was a non-anchor and Schriener believed he would be the opposite. Schreiner said he has yet to crystallize his priorities. He said he plans to speak directly to voters and get advice straight from the source.

The moderators asked him if he supported hiring environmental staff in his office. Schreiner said no.

“Personally? No [I don’t]but if that’s what my constituents want, that’s a whole different story,” Schreiner said.

Teresa H. Sadler