Soon, there will be a new mayor in Spokane, where a new look of Spokane will be brought, giving the people of Spokane a sense of new hope and new beginnings. Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart hopes to spark that new change, bringing an authentic personality and homegrown background to fellow citizens.
Stuckart came to Gonzaga University Wednesday night to discuss the political involvement in the Spokane community. The Gonzaga Young Democrats Organization invited Stuckart to Jundt Auditorium to discuss how growing up in Spokane has played a role in his life, while also discussing the problems and issues he believes Spokane is currently facing.
“If you go downtown every once and awhile, it was probably half as busy as it is now, half as many businesses, half as busy on a Friday night,” Stuckart said. “Downtown was dying in 1995.”
For the small crowd of 10-12 people in the audience, Stuckart invited everyone to come closer, not even needing to use a microphone.
Stuckart began by talking about his life growing up, specifically mentioning that his father worked for a non-profit organization called SNAP, which Stuckart says was one of the four or five largest nonprofits in the county. His mother became a teacher, then eventually became a principal.
Stuckart went to George Washington University in Washington D.C. for a year, and then eventually returned to Spokane and attend Gonzaga University for his undergraduate degree and graduated in May of 1995. After being in the ticket business with the Oakland Raiders, the Sydney Olympics, and TicketsWest, Stuckart went back to GU for grad school, where he got his master’s degree in organizational leadership.
After graduate school, Stuckart became the executive for the non-profit organization Communities in Schools in Spokane, which help staff in schools connect kids to resources, such as grade and behavioral problems, which also included after school programs and mentor programs. With virtually no experience in the non-profit organization business, Stuckart was able to take the $20,000 given to him and find results.
“They basically gave me $20,000 in the bank account and said figure it out,” Stuckart said. “So I was there for four years, and by the time that I left, we were a half a million dollar agency every year, and I had ten employees.”
Stuckart then proceeded to talk about how he believes having good mentors and hard work will allow anyone to do anything they set their mind to.
He then talked about the issues of Spokane’s economy and how it is at the tail end of the longest month to month growth of Spokane that they’ve had in the history of the city. Through this gorwth they have been able to invest $60 million in Riverfront Park and hire more police officers and firefighters.
Stuckart said they have invested more in infrastructure in the river and the environment compared to any other point in Spokane history.
Stuckart ended by talking about the Growth Management Act, as he explained the importance of how if people become more spread out from offered services, the more expensive it gets.
“In the long run, it’s better for the environment because you are traveling less and you have less use of transportation,” Stuckart said. “If you are closer together, you are more likely to interact with each other.”
Stuckart hopes to use these ideas to advance the city as well as use this growth as a platform for his mayoral run.