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Spokane County Auditor Dalton says current term is her last; will retire in 2026

Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton
Spokane County government
Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton.

Nearly a quarter-century after being elected Spokane County Auditor, and less than three months after winning a seventh term by a razor-thin margin, Vicky Dalton says she will retire when her current term ends in late 2026.

In a recent conversation with Spokane Public Radio, Dalton said she began thinking about retirement a few years ago, before she made the decision to run for her current term in the county’s 2022 election cycle.

“I will be 65 when I retire, and there’s many things on my list of to-dos that I’m just not going be able to accomplish while I am working full time,” Dalton said. “It is full-bore, and so I tend to not do the things for me and my family, such as take vacations.”

Though Dalton has become a target for election deniers – as have many election officials in the United States – she said that pressure was not a major factor in her decision to end her time in office.

“The fact that it is now much more contentious is an additional strain, but it’s not a determining factor in my eventual retirement,” Dalton said.

In the face of eroding trust in elections, particularly among conservatives, Dalton felt she needed to stick around for a few more years.

“This is a very difficult period in our nation, and we need good, qualified elections administrators to be in the job,” she said.

There are a handful of high-profile elections ahead for Dalton and her team – Spokane’s municipal election later this year, the 2024 presidential and gubernatorial races, and Congressional midterms in 2026, to name a few.

Beyond elections, the auditor’s office is busy conducting much of the lower-profile but essential work for the county government and Spokane County’s residents. That includes keeping records of marriages, liens, mortgages and deeds.

Dalton and her team are also working through a shortage of metal license plates caused by coronavirus outbreaks at the Walla Walla corrections facility where the plates are made. The office will continue paying Spokane County’s bills, and making sure county employees get their paychecks. And every year, Dalton keeps tabs on new laws that may or will affect what her office is responsible for, and how to get it done.

Additionally, the auditor’s office is engaging in a project to remove and archive home documents that include racially-restrictive language. The covenants will be made available to researchers, and newer copies without the race-based language will replace them in the county’s active files.

There is, in short, plenty of work awaiting Dalton before she clocks out for the final time.

“Being the county auditor is not an easy job,” Dalton said. “You have four completely different departments, it’s very active, you’re involved with a lot of stakeholders. And this not a political position. This is a job. You do work.”

The job, Dalton emphasized, is not an entry-level position in local government.

“It’s important that whoever becomes county auditor after me understands the work of this office, is capable of doing the work of this office, and already is well-grounded in the people that they need to know, the processes that they perform, and the incredible reach this office has,” Dalton said.

Dalton said she is willing to talk with people interested in succeeding her in 2026. Her advice to potential candidates is: get started early. It may take years to fully learn the processes, expectations, functions and duties of the job.

Brandon Hollingsworth is your All Things Considered host. He has served public radio audiences for fifteen years, primarily in reporting, hosting and interviewing. His previous ports-of-call were WUOT-FM in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Alabama Public Radio. His work has been heard nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here and Now and NPR’s top-of-the-hour newscasts.