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Spokane Judge Upholds Five Commissioner Law

Spokane County

A Spokane County Superior Court judge today [Friday] rejected a lawsuit that challenges a new state law that will mandate the county to add two county commissioners.

The law, approved in 2018, requires all Washington counties with a population of 400,000 or greater to increase its county commission from three members to five. It also requires election by individual districts, rather than countywide, and it establishes a commission to draw up the districts.

Opponents of the law, including the current Spokane County commissioners, argue the law singles out Spokane, in essence forcing it to become the only county to be subject to this requirement.  

Judge Maryann Moreno wrote that the law is sufficiently broad. She writes that it applies to all counties with population greater than 400,000. And, she says, it gives those counties the option of going to five commissioners or adopting their own county charters. That would allow them to have as many commissioners as they want.

The county was joined in its lawsuit by the Washington State Association of Counties. No word yet if they will appeal the ruling.

Two of the Spokane lawmakers who sponsored the law say they’re pleased with the ruling. Republican Mike Volz said the goal was to reduce the impact of a new state law, the Washington Voting Rights Act. He says this five commissioner law will allow the county to draw its own district boundaries, rather than potentially leaving that decision to a judge.

Read Judge Moreno's decision here.