Four candidates vying for two Spokane County Commission seats

County treasurer, school district bond and library bond also on ballot


Al French vs. Robbi Katherine Anthony

A vote for Robbi Katherine Anthony, a political newcomer and Democrat who owns two Spokane businesses, would represent change. Katherine Anthony, a transgender woman, hopes to attract business to Spokane by making it a more welcoming and inclusive county, starting with the Board of Commissioners. She says a more inclusive community would help attract new businesses to the area.

Spokane County Commissioner Al French, however, argues change isn't necessary. French has been key in economic development initiatives like forming the West Plains Public Development Authority and helping recruit the Amazon warehouse to the area. And he's backed by years of experience in politics: He's been Spokane County Commissioner for eight years, and before that served as a Spokane City Council member. He's also the longest-serving member of the Spokane Transit Authority Board in the history of the organization. (WILSON CRISCIONE)

Mary Kuney vs. Rob Chase

Mary Kuney has never run for office against anyone other than Rob Chase. A former state auditor, Kuney lost to Chase for Spokane County Treasurer in 2014, but won the appointment to the Spokane County Commission last year with the resignation of Shelly O'Quinn. Kuney, a Republican, touts her experience managing budgets and analyzing systems of government in a time when the county is dealing with a lean budget.

Chase is further to the right of Kuney, calling himself a "paleo-conservative." He takes a hard line on not raising taxes. He's running in large part because he was the first choice among Spokane County Republicans to fill O'Quinn's seat, before Gov. Jay Inslee chose Kuney instead. "If I had come in second place [among county Republicans] I never would have run," he says. (WC)


The differences between Republican Michael Baumgartner and Democrat David Green go far beyond political. The two have a far different idea of what job the county treasurer should do.

Baumgartner, after serving eight years as a state senator representing Spokane, decided he will not return to the Senate. But he plans on fighting for "conservative principles of fiscal responsibility, jobs growth and quality education" as county treasurer, his campaign website says. He has frequently touted his success in helping facilitate Washington State University's new medical school, a new science building at Eastern Washington University and Spokane's North Spokane Corridor.

But are those qualifications for a position as Spokane County Treasurer? Green, a certified public accountant, argues they're not. In debates with Baumgartner, Green has argued that the treasurer's office does not set policy and should focus instead on things like the county's investment portfolio, which he has criticized. He has experience as treasurer of the Fox Theater and the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture and is a former adjunct professor at Gonzaga's Graduate School of Businesses. According to the Spokesman-Review, Green has promised to serve a full four-year term, while Baumgartner has not. (WC)


School District

Thanks to a partnership between the city and the school district, Spokane Public Schools can save money and build the three new middle schools it needs on city-owned property. But voters have to approve the $495.3 million bond first.

The middle schools would help accommodate the change in grade configuration in Spokane Public Schools that would move the sixth grade to the middle school level. The bond would also allow the school district to replace three existing middle schools (Glover, Shaw and Sacajawea), add space for option programs at Libby Center and On Track Academy, upgrade safety and technology districtwide and add a commons area at Lewis and Clark High School.

Oh, and there's one other thing: It would pay for replacing the aging Joe Albi stadium with a smaller multiuse stadium. Exactly where that new stadium would be is up to voters in a separate advisory vote. They will decide if it will be built downtown or at the current Albi location. But the current 30,000-seat Joe Albi stadium has worn out its useful life, the school district says. It's never close to being at capacity for high school games and the costs to maintain its infrastructure have become a burden. So something needs to happen to it wherever it goes, the district says. (WC)

click to enlarge Joe Albi Stadium rarely has a big crowd. - YOUNG KWAK
Young Kwak
Joe Albi Stadium rarely has a big crowd.

Library Bond

The internet hasn't made the library irrelevant, it turns out: It's made it all the more essential for people without reliable access to the internet. The city's asking voters to chip in a little extra for property taxes — $38 a year if you have a $200,000 house — in order to upgrade and rebuild the city's library facilities. The package includes major renovations to the downtown and Shadle libraries and a rebuilt east-side branch library. The bond would also team the city up with Spokane Public Schools to build two new libraries — one in Hillyard and one near the Libby Center in the East Central Neighborhood. (DANIEL WALTERS)

Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Driehaus Collection @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Feb. 13
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