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A Spokane county commissioner and a councilman announce new jobs; plus, a local officer pleads not guilty

Gov. Jay Inslee tapped Spokane City Council member Jon Synder for a newly created job in Olympia.
  • Gov. Jay Inslee tapped Spokane City Council member Jon Synder for a newly created job in Olympia.

About 11 months ago, County Commissioner Todd Mielke announced that he wanted to be the CEO of Spokane County. For a moment, it looked like the job was his. That was, at least, until County Commissioner Al French refused to second his nomination.

Now he's been tapped for another major CEO job: GREATER SPOKANE INC., the economic development agency and chamber of commerce in the area. He starts in February.

"This is an opportunity to continue doing what I'm doing," Mielke says. "I get to do it in my own community, and do it from an angle promoting businesses, and doing everything I can to help entrepreneurs flourish."

Mielke says he's actually interviewed for the job once before and was one of the finalists. Last time he was beat out by Steve Stevens, the CEO of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Stevens lasted little more than a year at GSI, however, before moving back to Kentucky.

Jeff Phillips, president of Rosauers Supermarkets and a search committee member, says this time the local touch was important to the search committee.

"With Todd's knowledge and expertise, with his history in this community as a former legislator, as a county commissioner, as a member of the community, as a small business owner — these elements were much more important to us this go-around," Phillips says.

The Spokane County Republican Party will put forward nominations for Mielke's replacement, and the other two county commissioners members will pick one.

French says that Mielke has done a lot of good things for the county, including leading the regionalization of the county's animal control system and launching a new wastewater treatment facility. In the past, however, Mielke has been heavily criticized for his decision to purchase the Spokane County Raceway, a facility that has struggled to turn a profit. (DANIEL WALTERS)

Snyder Goes to Olympia

Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder will resign his position early next year to take a job ADVISING GOV. JAY INSLEE on ways to increase participation in outdoor recreational activities as well as jobs in the sector.

Snyder, first elected to the council in 2009 and again in 2013, says he wasn't actively looking for a new job and was surprised when the position, which pays $95,000 a year, was offered to him after he applied. He's also reluctant to leave his hometown, especially when he says that Spokane is on the upswing.

"I love this town and I love the moment this town is in right now," he says. "We're on a great path."

Snyder, known for advocating for more bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, says he's particularly proud of his work on planning and utilities, as well as reforming the police department. Previously, he was owner and publisher of Out There Monthly, a publication he founded in 2004 about outdoor recreation in the Inland Northwest.

On the council, Snyder was considered part of a liberal voting bloc that grew to 6-1 after November's election. His last day will be Jan. 12, after which the council will begin accepting applications for his replacement. Those who've expressed interest so far include Snyder's own legislative aide Blaine Stum, former Pullman City Councilman Derrick Skaug, civil rights attorney Breean Beggs and Merlyn's owner and perennial candidate John Waite. (JAKE THOMAS)


Spokane Police Sgt. John Gately, the former Police Guild president accused of tipping off a fellow officer to a search warrant, pleaded NOT GUILTY to felony charges earlier this week.

Gately is charged with rendering criminal assistance and obstructing a law enforcement officer for allegedly telling Sgt. Gordon Ennis details of a Sheriff's Office search warrant. Ennis is charged with raping a female officer during a drunken party. He has also pleaded not guilty.

Sheriff's detectives believe Gately told Ennis they wanted to search his hands for DNA evidence. By the time the warrant was approved and detectives went to collect evidence from Ennis, he'd trimmed his fingernails.

Gately's lawyer, David Allen, says the charges against him have no basis.

Gately, who is currently on unpaid leave, will be booked into jail and released this week. His trial is set for March 14. (MITCH RYALS)

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