Shelly O’Quinn calls district home
Candidate dismisses criticism on recent move
A legislative candidate who moved into the Spokane-area district she wants to represent just months before filing notice that she would run is dismissing as a nonissue criticism questioning her short-term residency.
Shelly O’Quinn, who grew up in Spokane Valley, moved to a South Hill rental home with her family in April 2009. In September, she filed notice with the state Public Disclosure Commission that she was running for the 6th Legislative District House seat now held by Democrat John Driscoll.
O’Quinn, a Republican, acknowledged that some are trying to turn her residency into a campaign issue. She believes voters are smart enough to see past it, explaining that she’s knocked on thousands of doors to introduce herself and seek support.
“No one has asked how long I have lived in the 6th District,” O’Quinn said. “Jobs, education, no new taxes. That’s what’s important to people.”
Former state Rep. John Ahern, a Republican who also is running for the seat, said experience living in the district is important to represent constituents best. Ahern, who owns an office-supply business, said he moved to the district in the late 1960s and has lived in the same home since 1976.
“I don’t think she really knows the 6th District that well,” Ahern said.
Driscoll, executive director of a nonprofit group that works on health care issues, said he’s lived in the district since 1967, except for four years when he was at Washington State University in the late 1970s and another year in the early 1980s when he worked in Seattle.
O’Quinn, the workforce development manager for Greater Spokane Incorporated, said she’s lived most of her life in Spokane County, graduating from Central Valley High School and Whitworth University. She said she and her husband decided to move before deciding that she would run for state House.
“I have a young family, a 10-year-old and a 4-year-old, and we made our decision because we want to be in a neighborhood that has great schools, that’s close to parks and – for my husband and I – that’s close to work.”
County property records indicate that her home on 20th Avenue is rented and that she and her husband continue to own a home in Spokane Valley, where she was registered to vote until last year. That address on East 13th Avenue is in the 4th Legislative District.
O’Quinn said she and her husband plan to remain in the 6th District no matter the outcome of the election. She said the Spokane Valley home where they lived before belonged to her grandmother.
“I have a sentimental attachment to that home and have no intention of selling it,” she said.
Meanwhile, she and her husband have been working with a real estate agent to buy in the district, she said, but purchasing a home has been hampered by a shaky real estate market, and she says they’re picky about where they want to live, between Manito Park and High Drive.