Spokane County Commissioner Mark Richard says he never wanted to become acareer politician.
And so, today, at a press conference near the county courthouse, beside hiswife and a dozen county workers, he announced that he will not run for a thirdterm this fall.
Richard says he just made the decision recently but has been considering itfor the past few months.
He says he has been proud of the strides the county has made in the last eightyears — serving youth, prisoners, and moving toward more respectfulcity-county collaboration.
“Today we see civility, respect, and dignity,” he says.
While serving on the board of county commissioners beside the conservativeTodd Mielke and the more liberal Bonnie Mager several years ago, Richard servedas a swing vote on several issues, including the expensivepurchase of the Spokane County Raceway and the decision to use conservationfutures funds to buy the YMCA building.
He regrets neither decision. In fact, at the press conference he lambastedthe media for how he feels they unfairly portrayed the racetrack issue.
That’s not to say he doesn’t regret a vote or two. He believes that he votedto improperly rezone some light industrial areas in the West Plains ascommercial. As a result, the nearby Fairchild Air Force Base is facingencroachment issues.
More recently, Richard was the lone voice of skepticism over placing ameasure to fund a regional animal control facility on the ballot this fall.Indeed, the measure failed to get the required number of votes.
“I don’t think I’ve ever stood up and said, ‘Neener, neener,'" Richardsays, when asked if he feels vindicated on the issue. Now, he says he’s pleasedat the new direction for animal control, which may allow the county to be ableto build a new facility without paying any taxpayer funds.
No, he isn’t sure what he wants to do next — but it isn’t to run for apolitical seat. He’s had several conversations — and heard rumors — about whomay be vying to replace him in November (Commissioner Todd Mielke's seat is also up for grabs), but he won’t elaborate on those names. And will heendorse any of those candidates?
“I may, if the right candidate comes along,” Richard says.