Five Commissioner Law Could Be Headed To Washington Supreme Court

Sep 26, 2019

A court case that challenges a Washington state law that would require Spokane County to adjust its form of government could be headed to the state Supreme Court.

Last year, the Washington legislature approved a bill that requires counties with more than 400,000 people that don’t have a charter to increase the number of elected county commissioners from three members to five. It also requires election by district in both the primary and general elections. That applies to Spokane County.

The bill was sponsored by some of Spokane’s state representatives, from both parties.

The Spokane County commissioners and the Washington State Association of Counties challenged the law, saying it’s unconstitutional. They say the legislature overstepped its authority. They note that three years before the bill was approved, voters turned down a ballot measure that would have done what the bill mandates.

Two commissioners, one current, a Republican, Al French, and one former, a Democrat, John Roskelley, filed a court challenge. Earlier this year, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno ruled against them, claiming the law is legal.

Now, the Spokane County Commissioners and Association of Counties have authorized an appeal to the state’s highest court. The court will next have to decide whether to accept the case.

Commissioner Mary Kuney says moving quickly is important, because the law would start the redistricting process in 2021, with the first election of five commissioners in 2022.