Spokane County Commissioners Let the Governor Pick Their New Colleague

Sep 12, 2017

The Spokane county commissioners couldn't agree who should replace former Commissioner Shelly O'Quinn (left), so they'll leave the decision to Governor Jay Inslee.
Credit spokesman.com

Washington Governor Jay Inslee will pick Spokane’s new county commissioner.

Commissioners Al French and Josh Kerns had 60 days from July 17th, the day former Commissioner Shelly O’Quinn left the board, to name a replacement. It was clear the two don’t agree on a candidate, so by state law, the decision is now up to the governor. While he’s a Democrat, he must choose from one of the Republican finalists. He has 30 days.

The nominees to replace O’Quinn are county Treasurer Rob Chase; Mary Kuney, the county’s chief deputy auditor; and John Guarisco, a Spokane Valley marketing executive. French and Kerns said they discussed the candidates several times in executive session. Both say the talks were respectful and that all of the candidates are qualified, but they disagree about the skills each are seeking.

While they put a nice face on the decision afterward, it’s clear there was tension involved in the discussions. French read a lengthy statement in which he criticized local Republican leaders for insisting that he choose their preferred candidate, Chase. He specifically called out the Washington Liberty Political Action Committee for running a radio ad against him and trying to intimidate him.  French said state public disclosure documents listed Chase and Spokane Valley state Representative Matt Shea as two of the PAC’s officers.