Legislative Aide Pursues Spokane City Council Seat

Oct 12, 2017

Kate Burke, a legislative aide to Spokane Democratic state Senator Andy Billig, is running for Spokane City Council in the Northeast district.
Credit Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The Hillyard business district is one of the commercial centers in the Northeast district and that’s where we met Kate Burke. We asked to walk the neighborhood with her as we talked.

Burke grew up on Spokane’s south side. But she has chosen to live in the Northeast section of the city.

“It just feels like home when I’m over here," she said. "I like doorbelling. I feel really comfortable. I enjoy conversations with the people over here.”

Burke works as an aide to Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane). He serves many of the same neighborhoods Burke would if she’s elected. She says her experience handling his constituent relations would serve her well as a council member.

“I know the issues that are going on. So when constituents write into the office, I know exactly who to go to to get them help. So, for me, it’s how can I help a person to the fullest?” Burke said.

And it’s that problem solving that Burke enjoys and thinks she would be good at if she’s elected to the council.

“You know, my road is destroyed in front of my house. We need turn signals at these areas. We need crosswalks here. Cars drive too fast on these roads," Burke said. "To me, that’s what people want to make sure you’re listening to. And that’s what tell me at the doors.”

She says they also mention the same few priorities over and over.

“I think the most important thing for the people in this area, because we’re mainly working families, is the roads. All of them have to get to work somehow, so that’s a really big issue in my neighborhoods," Burke said. "There’s a lot of property crime in these areas. I think that’s attributed to the amount of foreclosed houses we have.”  

Burke thinks people in her district would welcome the city hiring more police officers. Mayor David Condon has proposed adding 10 new officers in his proposed 2018 budget. But she says they’re skeptical.

“Every block I doorbell, there’s somebody that says, ‘I called the cops. They didn’t show up for three hours.’ While they’re understanding, they say, ‘I know they’re busy. I know we’re understaffed,’ it’s unfair. And so, if we’re going to invest in making sure we have more officers, we need to make sure that those services are coming to our community over here," Burke said.

"People just want to feel safe. We might not catch that thief, but they want to know that someone’s going to respond to their call and when they’re not getting a response, they feel unsafe,” she said.

And speaking of safety, just a few blocks from where we were walking, trains were moving on some of the miles of railroad tracks that run through this neighborhood. In November, city voters will decide whether to penalize companies that ship oil and uncovered coal on rail lines within the city. Burke is skeptical about the measure.

“I’m worried that it’s not legal," Burke said. "I think there should always be conversations about public safety in our communities and I definitely think the conversations have started. I’d love to see where it goes, but I don’t know that this initiative is going to be legal.”

Kate Burke is running against Tim Benn in the November general election for the Northeast district council seat that will be vacated by Amber Waldref.