Group Redrawing Spokane County Election Lines Seeks Public Input

Jun 28, 2021

The Spokane County Courthouse. A bipartisan group is working on drawing new commissioner districts, a process that will wrap up by the end of the year.
Credit Rebecca White/SPR

Spokane County has had three commissioners for most of its history as a government, but will have five elected by district starting next year.

A committee has been chosen to draw the lines for the new districts and has about five months left to complete the task. The group’s chair says they need feedback from the public now.

Official public hearings and information sessions start next month.

The committee, a group of community members chosen by Republican and Democratic Spokane County legislators, has already started meeting to discuss redistricting. Chair of the body, Elaine Couture said they need community feedback as early as possible.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and what decisions are being made today for the future generations are really very important.”

The Board of County Commissioners, currently composed of three Republican members, makes decision about how the jail, the courts and the sheriff’s office are funded. They also oversee grant funds that can be used for homelessness, housing and infrastructure, like replacing septic systems or repairing roads.

Under the current system, commissioners are elected in their districts in the primary, and county wide in the general election. That system has resulted in commissioners sometimes losing in their district, but winning county wide.

Starting next year, commissioners will only be chosen at a district level, and each district will be smaller.

Couture said the committee wants to hear from communities as early as possible, and said they can submit maps, or other ideas about how individual districts can look, and the group will listen to their ideas.

“The committee has taken the community engagement plan very very seriously. They want to get as many voices involved in this. They also recognize that in the end, we need to go ahead and come up with a plan that can be implemented. We can’t delay it, it has to be done.”

They currently meet on Tuesdays at the Spokane Arena at 4:30 p.m., and will hold four information sessions, the first of which is scheduled in July.

The committee will also hold public hearings and information starting in August and the new district plan is due at the end of October.

Couture said a Spokane County Redistricting website should go live this week, and call in and in-person attendance information for their meetings is on the county’s website now.

This story was corrected on June 28 to include that both public hearings and information sessions will begin in July.