Spokane County Commissioners

Rebecca White/SPR

Spokane County Commissioners have chosen a former Healthcare executive as the final member of a committee that will redraw the county’s election lines.

Spokane County Commissioners Monday unanimously chose Elaine Couture. She retired from her position as Providence executive vice president and regional chief executive for Washington and Montana, earlier this year.

Spokane County Commissioner Mary Kuney, who nominated her, praised her business sense, leadership and community ties before the board voted.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The committee tasked with expanding the county from three to five commissioner districts was unable to agree on a fifth, and final, member.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane Republicans have chosen a former U.S. Attorney and GOP party leader to help redistrict Spokane County.

Senate Republicans chose Robin Ball, the owner of Sharp Shooters gun shop and the former chair of the Spokane County Republican Party. House Republicans chose Jim McDevitt, a former U.S. Attorney, as their representative in the county's redistricting.

Sen. Mike Padden, who represents Spokane Valley, confirmed the nominees Tuesday.

Courtesy of Spokane County

Spokane County officials are reminding restaurants and hotels they have financial aid available, but companies must apply by the end of the day Monday.

The Spokane County commissioners recently set aside $10 million in federal pandemic CARES Act money to help hospitality companies stay afloat.

Two Spokane County Commissioners Win Re-Election

Nov 4, 2020
Courtesy of Josh Kerns

Two Spokane County Commissioners appear to be on their way to re-election.


Republicans Josh Kerns and Mary Kuney are leading their respective races against Democrats Ted Cummings and David Green.

Kerns is in the tighter race, though he has 56% of the vote.

Spokane Now Two Confirmed Covid Cases Short of 1,000

Jun 22, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

Spokane County is now two confirmed Covid cases away from a thousand, with 22 new cases reported today [Monday] and 157 during the last seven days.

Spokane’s consistent increases come at a time when some elected officials, particularly the three county commissioners, are pushing the health officer to move forward in the process toward phase three.

Washington Department of Corrections

Is Spokane County ready to move to the next phase of Washington’s coronavirus reopening protocol? County commissioners and Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward say yes. Health Officer Bob Lutz is skeptical. 

Lutz cites the doubling of the number of confirmed cases since the Memorial Day weekend. But he’s also worried about another factor.

Spokane County Commissioners Push To Move To Level Three

Jun 17, 2020
Spokane County Commissioners

Spokane County’s commissioners today formally asked Health Officer Bob Lutz to initiate the process to move the county to level three of the state’s reopening plan.

In the letter signed by all three commissioners, the trio say they believe the "clear majority" of hospitals and businesses are ready to move to phase three. They say those companies are following the strict sanitary and spacing guidelines needed to keep their customers safe.

Spokane County Asks State For Coronavirus Variance

May 11, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

UPDATED with comments from Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward and Commissioner Al French. 

Spokane County’s commissioners voted this morning [Tuesday] to ask Washington Health Secretary John Wiesman to allow the county to move to the next step as it emerges from coronavirus restrictions.

The county wants the same sort of variance that was granted to eight other counties. That would allow them to move directly to phase two of the state’s four-phase reopening plan.

Courtesy of Spokane County

Spokane County has sent a letter to Governor Jay Inslee asking him to allow certain businesses to immediately reopen.

The letter from the Spokane County commissioners cites the progress Spokane has made in reducing the rate of increase of confirmed Covid cases.

A court case that challenges a Washington state law that would require Spokane County to adjust its form of government could be headed to the state Supreme Court.

Spokane County

Spokane County commissioners are filing a suit challenging a state law that directs the county to expand the county commission.

Tuesday, commissioners voted unanimously to join a lawsuit that challenges a state law that says Spokane County will need to expand its current commission from three to five members in 2022.

Al French


Earlier this year, Washington state lawmakers decided that counties with more than 400,000 people should have five members on county commissions.

Spokane County still has three commissioners, and now that board is planning to fight the state’s new rule.

New Spokane County Commissioner Sworn In

Sep 29, 2017
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

New Spokane County Commissioner Mary Kuney was was given the oath of office Friday by her now former boss, county Auditor Vicky Dalton.

Kuney was Dalton’s chief deputy in the auditor’s office.


Washington Governor Jay Inslee will pick Spokane’s new county commissioner.

Commissioners Al French and Josh Kerns had 60 days from July 17th, the day former Commissioner Shelly O’Quinn left the board, to name a replacement. It was clear the two don’t agree on a candidate, so by state law, the decision is now up to the governor. While he’s a Democrat, he must choose from one of the Republican finalists. He has 30 days.

Spokane County Pulls Property Tax Measure from Ballot

Aug 15, 2017
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The Spokane County Commissioners announced today (Tuesday) they’re taking a property tax ballot measure off of the November ballot. The resolution would have asked taxpayers for permission to raise county property taxes by the more than 1% allowed by the state. The decision was made because the legislature has decided on its own property tax increase.

The race for Spokane County Commissioner for District One pits a current Spokane City Councilmember against a newcomer.  Incumbent Nancy McLaughlin, who was appointed to fill the seat of outgoing Commissioner Todd Mielke, did not advance in the primary.

Listen Now: Full interviews with both candidates below

The race for Spokane county commissioner district number two pits the incumbent Republican Shelly O'Quinn against newcomer Andrew Biviano, a Democrat.

Listen Now: Full interviews with both candidates below

cmh2315fl via flickr

Even though Spokane County voters just rejected a measure that would have expanded the county commission from three to five members, a state lawmaker has proposed a bill that makes another attempt.

Spokane county voters will have chance to decide if the county should expand its commission from three to five members. 

When the Spokane county commission was first established, there were about 50 thousand people in the county. Now, over 100 years later, the population is about half a million, but that board still has three commissioners.

Spokane county voters will have a chance to decide if the commission should be expanded to five on this Falls ballot.

Growth management proposal on Waikiki Road
Washington State Court of Appeals / http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/319415.unp.pdf

The state appeals court ruled Thursday on a development issue between county commissioners and a rural Spokane neighborhood. Part of an ongoing court-battle, this opinion sides mostly with the Growth Management Hearings Board, not the commissioners.

Spokane County’s sales and use tax, which funds the jail, expires this year. The board of county commissioners plans to renew the tax through a ballot measure, but is stuck in debate over when to introduce it. The disagreement may hinge on commissioner opinions of STA’s tax proposal, set for April.

Commissioner Shelley O’Quinn said this week she supports putting the tax on the April ballot. But colleague Al French advocated for the August ballot, citing cost reasons.

Al French campaign website; Mary Lou Johnson

The battle for Spokane county commissioner matches an incumbent republican who has also served on the Spokane City Council with an attorney who is a newcomer to politics. Al French has been on the county commission for one term. Also a veteran of the Spokane City Council, French has been an investment consultant and real estate developer.

‘Smart Growth’ Lesson for Spokane County Leaders

Aug 27, 2014

Spokane county leaders held their third meeting on growth management today, following the development freeze they instituted in April. The entire board of Spokane County Commissioners, Spokane City Council and Mayor are using the meetings to facilitate conversation.
This meeting focused on learning about smart growth, a term thrown around by city and county leaders when they started their year long growth moratorium. Christopher Zimmerman of Smart Growth America was flown into Spokane to assess the growth situation here.

The race for Spokane County Commissioner is just about as close as it gets. At last count (pre-5:00pm), Incumbent Al French has 36.2 percent of the vote, and newcomer Mary Lou Johnson has 36.5. Bonnie Mager only won 27 percent of the vote, even considering her experience as a past commissioner and her clear opposition to controversial urban growth decisions.
Johnson, a Democrat, says she takes the voters’ trust in her as a big responsibility. She says there are significant contrasts between her and French, a GOP candidate.

Urban Sprawl Slowed Down by Tapering Access To Water

Jul 2, 2014

In a move to curb sprawl, the Spokane city council Monday imposed new prohibitions on extending water and sewer service to potentially contested developments outside city limits until any legal challenges are resolved.

Spokane County is being honored for its efforts to improve the health and well-being of young people. The county is one of six communities across the national honored with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's 'Culture of Health' prize. The community implemented a series of initiatives designed to keep young people in school, and to prepare them for jobs and healthier lives.

Marijuana will likely go on sale legally in the Spokane area as soon as the first full week of July. Yhree licensees have been approved for Spokane after a final inspection. Ironically, none have yet been approved for the Seattle area. Some questions remain over the location of stores and producers.

Courtesy of Mary Lou Johnson

Two people are challenging County Commissioner Al French this year. Bonnie Mager was in our studio last month, and this month we meet Mary Lou Johnson. French is a current commissioner, and Mager was commissioner until French beat her in 2010. Johnson brings a solid background in criminal justice, and knowledge of county programs. She worked as an attorney in Spokane then for a federal district court judge for 17 years.

The Spokane mayor and the county commissioners have signed a joint development agreement that halts urban sprawl, for now. Their development agreement opens the door for public feedback on growth. Mayor David Condon says the agreement is effective April 1st and stands for one year.