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Spokane County Commissioners narrow candidates for new Board of Health

Rebecca White/SPR

The Spokane County Commissioners have chosen a slate of health care providers and community members to interview for three vacancies on the regional board of health.

Starting this year, state law requires at least half the members to be non-elected officials. It also requires at least one member to work in health care, be a health care provider, or be an expert on public health.

For that seat, the commissioners will interview candidates who are former board members: Jason Kinley, a naturopathic doctor who has drawn criticism for spreading COVID-19 misinformation, and Andrea Frostad, a dental hygienist who previously served on the board.

Both were removed from the board last month -- along with representatives of Spokane and Spokane Valley -- as the county worked to comply with the new law.

The commissioners will also interview three medical doctors, a public health and epidemiology nurse, a second naturopathic doctor and a naturopathic clinic office manager.

Those who didn’t make the cut included a pharmacist, a veterinarian, several medical doctors and a disease prevention nurse, according to documents obtained through a public records request.

Altogether the new Board of Health will include the three commissioners, the mayor of Millwood, a community stakeholder, a consumer of public health and a provider or public health expert. A Native American representative will also be appointed to the board, but they are not chosen by the county commissioners.

The inclusion of Frostad and Kinley, and the lack of other public health professionals put forward by the commissioners, generated some contention between Board Member Kevin Freeman, who is also the mayor of Millwood, and county commissioners Josh Kerns and Al French during the meeting to select candidates Thursday.

The two commissioner’s top picks included one medical doctor, two naturopathic doctors and no candidates with formal public health education.

Freeman nominated mostly doctors, and Denise Smart, a former military public health nurse who teaches courses on epidemiology and emergency preparedness at the WSU College of Nursing.

“My question for commissioner French and commissioner Kerns, is what is your criteria for choosing candidates,” Freeman said. “These are supposed to be the most qualified candidates for public health, correct?”

Kerns said all his and French’s choices meet the state’s threshold for inclusion on the board, but agreed to allow more candidates with public health and healthcare qualifications.

The full list of candidates the county commissioners and Freeman agreed to interview is as follows:

Andrea Frostad, a dental hygienist who previously was a member of the Spokane Regional Health Board of Health.

Jason Kinley, a naturopathic doctor who also previously served on the Spokane Regional Board of Health.

Monica Blykowski-May is a physician who has worked at both CHAS and the Rockwood Clinic.

Pam Kohlmeiler is a retired physician and ethics teacher. She previously was a member of the Health District’s Ethics committee.

Alycia Policani is a naturopathic doctor and the Medical Director at Evergreen Naturopathic.

Daniel Repsold is a physician at Excelsior Family Medicine. He was previously certified as an EMT before obtaining his physician and surgeon license according to the state’s licensing database.

Lydia Logsdon is a medical practice manager at a naturopathic office in Spokane, according to her application, but does not have a medical license registered in the state’s provider database.

Denise Smart is a retired military public health nurse who teaches at the WSU College of Nursing. According to her application, she has a doctorate in health education and epidemiology and a master’s in public health.

A much smaller pool of community members and business leaders applied for the other two open positions, Consumer of Public Health and Community Stakeholder. According to county documents obtained through a public records request, the commissioners will interview all but a few who applied.

Commissioners and Freeman will be required to ask all candidates the same questions, and select finalists in a fair and unbiased manner.

The public will likely not be able to see copies of the questions commissioners plan to ask candidates. County Commissioner Al French urged fellow members to send them through the board's attorney instead of the secretary of the board to avoid them becoming public through Public Records Acts. Legal advice is exempt from disclosure under state law in most cases.

Commissioners will conduct interviews with the candidates over the next few weeks.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.