Republican Mark Richard will be Spokane County’s newest county commissioner.
After more than a week with the contest too close to call, Democrat Bill Burke conceded defeat Friday to Richard in the race for District 2 commissioner.
Vote tallies Friday evening showed Richard winning 93,932 votes to Burke’s 88,771. A 2 percent difference separated the candidates.
Richard said Friday afternoon that he’s excited to win but that the uncertainty over the final election outcome has been stressful.
On election night, returns alternately showed each candidate ahead. Republican Todd Mielke won the District 1 seat, with a clear victory on election night.
The District 2 county commission race, and the even-tighter Washington gubernatorial race between Democrat Christine Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi, are two examples of why the state needs to change its election system, Richard said.
“Maybe the primary needs to be moved up and absentees postmarked a week or two before the election,” he said.
In a written statement, Burke congratulated Richard and thanked his own supporters.
“Spokane is faced with many challenges. I would like to wish both of our two new county commissioners and our one returning county commissioner the best of luck,” Burke wrote. “We’re counting on them to protect our collective resources and our environment, while growing a vibrant and economically strong countywide community.”
Richard said he doesn’t see his close victory as a “mandate,” and added that he’s committed to listening to all points of view.
With Commissioner Phil Harris already in office, this will be the first time in years that Spokane County has an all-Republican commission.
“We’re still three different people. We have three different viewpoints,” Richard said.
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