Lisa Brown on track to be Spokane’s next mayor

By: - November 13, 2023 7:31 am

Courtesy of Lisa Brown campaign

Update: Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward conceded late Monday in the race against Lisa Brown. As of Monday, Woodward had 47.7% of the vote, compared to Brown’s 51.7%.

Longtime Democratic politician Lisa Brown will likely be the new mayor of Spokane, following a heated contest between her and incumbent Nadine Woodward. 

The race to lead Washington’s second-largest city featured record campaign contributions, controversial attack ads and debate over how Spokane should deal with issues like homelessness, public safety and rising budget pressure.

As of Friday, Brown was leading Woodward by more than 4 percentage points. Brown had 51.9% of the vote, and Woodward had 47.6%.

“I’m very grateful to have been chosen by the voters to be the next Mayor of Spokane,” Brown said in a statement on social media Friday. “I’m ready and excited to get to work for the city that we love.”

Woodward, who’s served one term, has not yet conceded. She tweeted on Sunday that she was going to see the race through to the end “out of respect for everyone who has cast a ballot that has not yet been counted.”  

However, she acknowledged the election results were not trending in her direction. “I want people to know that voting is important and that their vote matters, especially in local elections,” she said.”

Brown has a long history in Washington state politics. 

She served in the Legislature for 20 years, first as a state representative from 1993 to 1997 and then as a state senator until 2013. She was the first Democratic woman in Washington’s history to become Senate majority leader, holding that role for her last seven years in office. 

Outside the Legislature, she served as chancellor for Washington State University’s Spokane campus from 2013 to 2017. Brown was appointed director of the state Department of Commerce in 2019. She left that role earlier this year to run for mayor. 

In her time at Commerce, she often worked with Spokane to find solutions for Camp Hope, which was at one point the state’s largest homeless encampment.  More than 600 people were living at the site at its peak. State and local authorities closed the camp earlier this year. 

On the campaign trail, Brown and Woodward frequently clashed over how the other spent time and money to address Camp Hope.

Brown comes into her new role as the city continues to face high levels of homelessness. During her campaign, Brown said she was willing to consider a “safe parking” program that would create a parking lot in the city where it is legal for people sleeping in their cars to stay overnight. She also criticized the city’s reliance on a new temporary shelter, which she said has been ineffective and expensive. 

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Laurel Demkovich
Laurel Demkovich

Laurel joined States Newsroom in 2023 after almost three years as a statehouse reporter for the Spokesman-Review. She covers state government, the Legislature and all other Olympia news.