Former Spokane County Commissioner John Roskelley said Thursday he’s ready to take his old job back.
Roskelley, a Democrat, announced this week that he is running for county commissioner in District 1, which covers the North Side of Spokane and northern parts of the county.
Roskelley served as commissioner from 1995 to 2004.
He is running for a job occupied by incumbent Commissioner Todd Mielke, a two-term Republican, who won the seat in 2004 months after Roskelley resigned the position.
Mielke said Thursday that he is running and will hold a campaign kickoff event this spring.
Roskelley said he’s seen a decline in the county’s financial picture since he left office, and he wants to change that. He acknowledged that a slow economy has cut into the county’s budget, but savings that piled up during his tenure have helped the county work through its current budget problems.
“Granted, the economy was strong when I was in office, but what we did in terms of cutting spending and socking away a significant reserve was the key to keeping the current commission’s head above water these past few years,” he said in a news release.
He pointed out that during his years as commissioner, the county avoided property tax increases. Part of that came as a result of a strong economy, he said.
In an interview Thursday, Roskelley said, “We’ve got to be smarter.”
He criticized Mielke for supporting ballot measures to raise taxes for public safety programs.
Mielke countered that Roskelley also supported some of those measures when he was commissioner.
Mielke said that the county has maintained a strong financial position despite a slow economy, two large city annexations and the incorporation of Spokane Valley, all of which took tax money away from the county.
He said he’s worked on solving major issues, including wastewater, emergency communications and regional collaboration.
After leaving office, Roskelley served six years on the Growth Management Hearings Board for Eastern Washington.
He left the board in 2010 and has been busy writing in recent months. A compilation of his writings and previous books on his mountain adventures is coming out this spring and he’s working on a book on paddling the entire 1,245-mile length of the Columbia River.
Roskelley is a legendary mountaineer who has climbed some of the tallest peaks in the world.