Spokane County Commissioner Mark Richard will leave his post at this end of this year rather than seek a third term.
Richard, 47, announced his decision today in a news conference outside the Spokane County Courthouse. Richard had not yet begun to raise money for another campaign, sparking speculation that he wouldn’t seek a third term. At least a few Republicans have been exploring bids for the seat in the event that Richard opted against a new term. Richard represents the commission’s 2nd district, which includes Spokane Valley and the eastern portion of the South Hill. Soon after his announcement Shelly O’Quinn, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for state Legislature in 2010 against state Sen. John Ahern, announced she would run for Richard’s seat.
As the former government affairs director for the Spokane Homebuilders, he entered his position with a reputation for his pro-development positions, but while on the commission he’s taken the lead on many other topics, including on the proposed new jail to replace Geiger Corrections Center. He’s also been the commission’s primary advocate in recent years for boosting mental health services.
Richard said he doesn’t have any current plans to run for another office. He said he plans to return to the private sector and that he has “interesting prospects.”
“I’ve had a great opportunity to be a part of something special. Not very many people get to do this,” Richard said. “No matter what I’m doing it will be something meaningful and will be something that I will be committed to moving the dial in a positive direction to help Spokane County advance forward.”
Winning the $93,000-a-year seat with the help of Spokane-area developers, Richard campaigned hard against what he called burdensome regulations hampering economic development. He won a second term in 2008 despite an aggressive Democratic challenge and community angst over his role in advocating the county’s controversial purchase of a dilapidated, bankrupt race track on the West Plains.