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Regional News

Spokane Health District To Search For New Health Officer

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Rebecca White/SPR
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The Spokane Regional Board of Health is now looking for a permanent new health officer.

During its regular meeting on Thursday the board voted to spend up to $50,000 on a recruitment firm to find qualified candidates.

“We’re just trying to get some closure, or just a more permanent position there for the health officer,” said Ben Wick, the mayor of Spokane Valley and a member of the Board of Health. “I think it would be good to do a nationwide search for that position, but also not to exclude any local candidates if there are local candidates.”

He and other members of the board, which is a group of community members and elected officials that oversees the health district, authorized Administrator Amelia Clark to find a new health officer.

Dr. Francisco Velazquez has served as the interim since the board fired Dr. Bob Lutz last fall. Lutz clashed with Clark, and his outspokenness sometimes put him at odds with members of the board that employed him.

Those conflicts resulted in Lutz being pressured to resign, and then publicly fired a week later amidst outcry from the public. During Thursday’s meeting Clark said that hiring a permanent health officer had been delayed for several months because of state legislation that is being considered that could impact the position.

City Councilwoman Betsy Wilkerson said the public should be kept up to date with the search for Lutz’s replacement.

“I support this, I believe it will be a great step towards healing our community over some of the fractions we have had over our leadership,” she said. “It will support transparency. The community does have a right to know how we are going forward, so I look forward to the process.”

Clark said the district will open a competitive bidding process to find a recruitment firm. That will take at least 30 days. She said the hiring process could take longer than that.

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