An NPR member station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Most county elected offices contested at Washington filing day deadline

Rebecca White/SPR
The Spokane County Courthouse

Friday was the deadline to file to run for office in Washington State. In Spokane, every county office is up for election in part due to the implementation of a state law that adds two new commissioners districts.

This year is also the first county commissioners must be elected by district in both the primary, and general election. As of Friday, all five commissioner races were contested, as well as the race for sheriff, county prosecutor and auditor.

Spokane City Councilman Michael Cathcart is one of three Republicans running for a newly created district that will represent the Northeastern portion of the city of Spokane at a county level.

“It's going to be a brand-new government, a brand-new type of system,” he said, “And this is sort of a once in a generation opportunity to set the tone, and tenor, implement the policies and make it clear that our district is not going to be ignored.”

Cathcart says he’s focused being an advocate for Northeast Spokane, which has some of the lowest-income census tracks in the region, and improving transparency and accessibility at the county commission.

His opponent, Republican former city councilman Bob Apple says he sees similar issues with how the city has been represented in the past, and transparency.

“My goal is to not only represent the entire county, but to make sure some changes occur that will benefit (the northeast) and make sure the public gets the biggest bang for their tax money.”

Cathcart and Apple are running against Amber Waldref, a Democrat, former city councilwoman and director of the ZoNE, a family focused Northeast Community Center project.

She says this election is a historic opportunity for voters, and a chance to add diverse perspectives to the city council. She says she’s focused on removing barriers to living wage jobs such as childcare, access to transportation and affordable housing.

“Workers are struggling to get to work and find a job, especially if they are underemployed, because of some of those barriers,” Waldref said.

The other newly created district which covers Northwest Spokane, has two candidates who have filed, Republican Kim Plese, who previously owned a sign, printing and advertising business, and Democrat Chris Jordan, an attorney who works in the Washington Attorney General’s Office.

All sitting Spokane County Commissioners had at least one challenger file against them this week. Incumbent Josh Kerns is facing a candidate named Wild Bill Schreiner of Mead. Incumbent Mary Kuney, who is a Republican, is facing two challengers from her own party, Spokane Valley pastor Paul Brian Noble and Chris McIntosh also of Spokane Valley.

Incumbent Al French, an architect and real estate developer who has been a county commissioner since 2010, is facing a Republican challenger, Don Harmon who was mayor of Airway Heights in the 1990s, and an independent challenger Tara Carter who is a court clerk at the county. Maggie Yates, the previous law and justice administrator for the county who oversaw criminal justice reforms, is challenging French as a Democrat.

One of the higher profile county races this year is for county prosecutor. Incumbent Larry Haskell is facing several challengers, including from his own office. Haskell has faced criticism for his wife’s racist posts on social media and from criminal justice reform advocates.

Stefanie Collins currently works as a senior county prosecutor and is challenging Haskell as a Republican.

Stephanie Olson is also challenging Haskell as a Republican, and previously worked in the county prosecutor’s office and now works in the Washington State Attorney General’s Office. Deb Conklin is a pastor and former prosecutor who is running against Haskell without a party affiliation.

Three men are also running for sheriff, Spokane County Undersheriff John Nowels, who is endorsed by the current sheriff, Michael Zollars, who is a sergeant at the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, and Wade Nelson, who most recently worked as a detective for the Sheriff’s Office according to his LinkedIn page. Current Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich is not running for reelection.

Vicky Dalton, a Democrat, is running for reelection as county auditor and will face Bob McCaslin, a Spokane Valley legislator.

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.