More join Spokane's most crowded city council race as filing week continues

·6 min read

May 18—Spokane's most crowded race is getting larger.

Retired respiratory therapist Earl Moore and Darren McCrea, who opened Eastern Washington's first medical marijuana dispensary, are running to represent northwest Spokane on the City Council.

McCrea and Moore join the dozens of local political hopefuls formally filing to run in the coming primary elections.

The race to fill a seat in District 3 held by Councilwoman Karen Stratton, who will reach her term limit at the end of the year, has quickly become the hottest game in town.

Other candidates who have already filed to run for the seat include environmental advocate Kitty Klitzke, Esteban Herevia, who until recently served as president and CEO of Spokane Pride, and Meals on Wheels Spokane board president Christopher Savage. Randy McGlenn II, former chair of the state Libertarian Party, was the first to publicly announce his candidacy, but he has not yet filed with the Washington secretary of state's office.

District 3, which has two seats, is also represented by Councilman Zack Zappone, whose term is not up until 2025.

The district stretches north from the Spokane River and west of Division Street, and after redistricting in 2022 also includes Browne's Addition. Growth has outstripped infrastructure improvements in some parts of the district, particularly in the North Indian Trail, Five Mile and West Central neighborhoods, according to the district's incumbents.

"My district doesn't care who I voted for president, and they don't want political fights," Stratton said in a brief interview. "They want safe parks, garbage picked up, streets plowed."

Like many running for Spokane City Council, Moore said she was focused on the homelessness and housing crisis, and would be an advocate for public safety.

She offered few concrete policy proposals for how she would tackle these issues, broadly saying that more affordable housing was needed and that she wanted to see more robust support for the police department.

She recently led a petition and rally in support of Police Chief Craig Meidl that packed a meeting when the City Council was considering a non-binding resolution to investigate his communications with local business owners. In an interview, Moore said she felt that the City Council should be more cooperative with the city's mayor.

However, Moore added that she held no grudges against sitting councilmembers and said the legislative body seemed to be making strides in the right direction on clearing the Camp Hope homeless encampment. She also praised recent action to pass a local law criminalizing drug possession and said she believes the city was becoming safer.

"I think they are cleaning up the streets, and I want to stay on that good track. I really don't have any bones to pick with anybody," she said.

Rather than put forward policy proposals of her own, Moore said her decisions on the City Council would be strongly guided by the will of voters in her district. She noted the debate over whether Spokane should fluoridate its water, saying that she had little opinion on the topic herself but that voters appeared to show a clear opposition to the water additive.

"I would align myself with what people want when it comes up," she said. "I would always vote with the way the people in my district want me to vote."

While Moore has never run before for public office, she is no stranger to the community nor to political advocacy. She has lived in the city for 45 years and graduated from Spokane Community College with a degree in respiratory health. She worked as a respiratory therapist at Deaconess Hospital for more than three decades.

Though her work has kept her busy, she has had an interest in politics ever since she saw John F. Kennedy elected president. She was long involved with the Respiratory Care Society of Washington, eventually serving as president of the eastern chapter, then state vice president and finally state president. She said she helped successfully lobby in Olympia for smoking to be banned in airplanes, restaurants, bars and other enclosed locations. Later, with the American Association for Respiratory Care, she lobbied in Washington D.C. for numerous health issues, such as affordable oxygen for people in home health care.

McCrea has long been a major advocate for medical marijuana and launched Spocannabis, which McCrea said was the first medical marijuana dispensary in Eastern Washington. More recently, McCrea, who suffers from Parkinson's Disease, has begun treating his tremors with psychedelic mushrooms and advocates for their legalization for medical use.

His active role in the pre-legalization marijuana world was not without legal consequence. In 2008, police searched his home and seized five pounds of pot, arresting him on felony drug dealing charges. In 2011, he pleaded guilty to a simple misdemeanor and was given a suspended jail sentence.

More recently, McCrea, a member of the Colville tribe, has been issuing dire warnings about a changing climate and its devastating consequences, pointing to cratering insect populations and arguing that forests across the planet are on the verge of collapse.

Now, McCrea has one overriding message to voters during this election: the end is coming.

"With what I've proven with our insects and trees, we're not going to be around much longer," he said. "God has seen that we are destroying the planet that he created."

It's not just the trees or insects, he says, arguing that the movement of clouds have changed and claiming that he's seen a strange, seemingly extraterrestrial object in the sky.

McCrea said he hopes to spread the word of what's coming but doesn't believe it's possible to prevent it.

"It's too late for things to change for the better," he said. "We can't stop it. But what we can do is prepare. Stop arguing if it's real or not. Start preparing for the ramifications."

When asked whether he had policy proposals about other issues, McCrea was unequivocal.

"No. I'm concerned about climate change."

Editor's note: This story was updated on May 18 to correct the name of Darren McCrea.

The field through Wednesday:

Spokane City Council:

District 1: Michael Cathcart, Lindsey Shaw

District 2: Cyndi Donahue, Katey Treloar, Mike Naccarato, Paul Dillon

District 3: Darren McCrea, Earl Moore, Kitty Klitzke, Esteban Herevia, Christopher Savage

Spokane City Council President:

Kim Plese, Betsy Wilkerson


Nadine Woodward, Lisa Brown, Kelly Stevens, Tim Archer

City of Spokane Valley:

Position 2: Jessica Yaeger, Rachel Briscoe

Position 3: Arne Woodard, Al Merkel

Position 6: Rob Chase, Tim Hattenburg

Spokane County Superior Court:

Position 7: Jacquelyn High-Edward

Position 8: Marla Polin

Spokane School District:

Position 5: Mike Wiser

Mead School District:

District 2: Denny Denholm

District 3: Jaime Stacy, Jennifer Kilman

District 4: David Knaggs, Michael Cannon

Central Valley School District:

District 1: Cindy McMullen, Jeff Brooks

District 3: Debra Long, Stephanie Jerdon

District 4: Keith Clark, Anniece Barker

Spokane Valley Fire:

Position 5: George Orr, Rick Freier, Diana Wilhite