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Senate Leader Critical of County Effort to Overturn Adding Commissioners


The new Washington state Senate majority leader is firing back at plans to challenge a state law that requires Spokane County to add more county commissioners.

This week the Spokane County commissioners voted to join a lawsuit that seeks to overturn a state law that requires the county to add two more commissioners to the three–person board in 2022.

The new leader, Democrat Andy Billig of Spokane, says the new plan would allow for better representation on the board, in part because commissioners will be required to be elected by their district, rather than the situation now, where they run in the primary in their district, and then county-wide in the general election.

“The new law when it goes into effect, will create dramatically more accountability of the commissioners to their district. It means better representation,” said Billig.

Billig also takes issue with Commissioner Al French’s statement that the new state law goes against county voters’ wishes in 2015, when they turned down a previous plan for a five-commissioner board. Billig says he himself voted against that, because of the way that proposal was worded.

“It would have been a partisan process of drawing the lines, and that would have been unfair and may have very well undermined this idea of five commissioners by district. Under this proposal we will now have a bipartisan process, that mirrors the state's bipartisan redistricting commission, to draw the new districts. And so the public did not get a chance to vote on this proposal with a fair nonpartisan redistricting process,” he said.

The commissioners this week voted to join a Washington State Association of Counties lawsuit that seeks to overturn the state law.

All three Spokane County Commissioners are Republican.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.