Spokane County Commissioner Mark Richard says he never wanted to become a career politician.
And so, today, at a press conference near the county courthouse, beside his wife and a dozen county workers, he announced that he will not run for a third term this fall.
Richard says he just made the decision recently but has been considering it for the past few months.
He says he has been proud of the strides the county has made in the last eight years — serving youth, prisoners, and moving toward more respectful city-county collaboration.
“Today we see civility, respect, and dignity,” he says.
While serving on the board of county commissioners beside the conservative Todd Mielke and the more liberal Bonnie Mager several years ago, Richard served as a swing vote on several issues, including the expensive purchase of the Spokane County Raceway and the decision to use conservation futures funds to buy the YMCA building.
He regrets neither decision. In fact, at the press conference he lambasted the 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 voted to improperly rezone some light industrial areas in the West Plains as commercial. As a result, the nearby Fairchild Air Force Base is facing encroachment issues.
More recently, Richard was the lone voice of skepticism over placing a measure 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,'" Richard says, when asked if he feels vindicated on the issue. Now, he says he’s pleased at the new direction for animal control, which may allow the county to be able to 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 a political seat. He’s had several conversations — and heard rumors — about who may 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 he endorse any of those candidates?
“I may, if the right candidate comes along,” Richard says.