by Council Member Betsy Wilkerson
Let me start by saying ESBA feels like coming home. Many of you know that I grew up in the 1900 block of E. Pacific Ave.
I attended the Full Gospel Mission Church for all Nations under the leadership of Bishop C.E. Hamp and for many years I went to “Hamp’s Camp” which served kids of color and the underprivileged throughout our city. The businesses on East Sprague played an important part in funding and overall support of this community outreach. So just for a moment I want to acknowledge and thank everyone for the work of inclusivity that has happened in our East Central Community. The freeway may have divided our community in the 70s, but it is groups like yours that is bringing our community back together.
After I graduated from Lewis & Clark in 1973, I left to attend an HBCU but came back home to raise my children here in Spokane. I worked in banking for 10 years and taught teller training. Many of you may know me from my time with the Teacher’s Credit Union! Today I run a small family business assisting the mentally disabled in a group home that my parents started in 1973, which I have been running since 1991.
“I believe that when we bring in investment and development into East Sprague and East 5th Avenue, we will bring back that vitality that brought our families and businesses here in the first place.”
As I enter my second year on Council my leadership roles have changed to include Finance & Administration Committee Chair, which oversees the city’s budget of almost a billion dollars, the Visit Spokane Board which is charged with promoting Spokane through tourism and a seat with the Downtown Spokane Partnership which drives the conversations and programs which we enjoy in our Downtown core. Some roles are a continuation of the work I am already doing like the Spokane Regional Health District and the Spokane Human Rights Commission.
Council has also established a “first 100 days plan” which includes important things like investing into the East 5 th Avenue. As you can tell, my heart is still in East Central, and I believe that when we bring in investment and development into East Sprague and East 5th Avenue, we will bring back that vitality that brought our families and businesses here in the first place. With our proximity to Downtown and the U-District, our corridors and city center especially along East Sprague, are ripe for housing, businesses and perhaps some nightlife to add to the greatness of East Central. I believe that the growth on the north and southside of the freeway will benefit all, and the North South Freeway will bring in even more opportunity.
I intend to continue working with STA for youth summer bus passes so future generations can enjoy all that Spokane has to offer. I also look forward to working with the community and local business associations
like yours on Housing and Zoning reforms to free up capital and remove barriers for growth. We will also continue our, at times intense yet productive, Community Conversations with SPD on reimagining Public Safety.
Although I am District’s 2’s Council Representative, I leave you with a continued commitment to serve all Spokane residents and our shared dream to revive and re-energize East Central.