The District 2 primary race for Spokane County commissioner features three familiar candidates who ran for different offices two years ago.
They are seeking the seat of Commissioner Mark Richard, who is stepping down after two terms.
Republicans Rob Chase and Shelly O’Quinn will be joined by Democrat Daryl Romeyn on the Aug. 7 ballot.
Voting begins this week as the county elections office mails 265,000 ballots starting on Wednesday.
The top two vote-getters will advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation. District 2 covers southeast Spokane and Spokane Valley.
In north Spokane County’s District 1 commissioner race, incumbent Republican Commissioner Todd Mielke will face Democrat and former Commissioner John Roskelley. Both will advance to the general election.
Commission candidates run by district during the primary and then countywide in the general election.
Two years ago, Chase, 58, won the county treasurer’s job in an unusual race that started with Chase running a write-in campaign as the only Republican in the primary. He won enough votes to qualify for the November ballot, beating incumbent Democrat Skip Chilberg.
Chase, a Libertarian from Liberty Lake, was the Eastern Washington coordinator for Ron Paul’s presidential bids in 2008 and this year.
He ran as a Libertarian for state Senate in 2000 and Congress in 2002.
This year, he is involved in an intraparty insurgency in which Paul supporters are seeking to take a majority of GOP precinct committee officer positions.
“Government should be kept to its necessary and proper functions,” he said in describing his philosophy.
A graduate of Kellogg High School, Chase holds a bachelor’s degree in operations management from Eastern Washington University.
Prior to his election as treasurer, he held a variety of jobs in business, including a stint at Hewlett-Packard.
He is married and has four children.
Chase said he is running because he believes tough economic times are ahead, and his approach to lean government will match the challenge.
He opposes the state’s growth management law, and instead believes the old system of land-use and zoning works better.
“Property rights are so important to people,” he said. “You can’t have liberty without property.”
Romeyn, 53, is a former television news broadcaster who left TV to become a small-scale organic vegetable and fruit farmer on 10 acres he owns in Greenacres. Promoting small agriculture is part of his economic growth strategy.
A graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in film, he came to Spokane for a news job 27 years ago. He is single with no children.
Romeyn ran for Congress in 2010 against U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, gathering 36 percent of the vote.
Romeyn said that, as a Democrat, he offers voters a choice from the current Republican leadership at the courthouse.
He said the commissioners have been spending liberally for the past eight years – even buying a racetrack in Airway Heights.
“They didn’t put away money when the times were good,” he said.
Romeyn said Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich’s proposal to seek a sales tax increase of 0.2 percent from voters needs a closer look. However, he would be willing to let the issue go to voters even though he believes the sheriff should cut costs first.
“I think there is money at cops and courts that could be saved,” he said.
Romeyn opposes a plan to expand the urban growth boundary at multiple locations.
He wants to pare back the county’s $250,000 annual contribution to Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI), the area’s chamber of commerce.
O’Quinn, 37, of Spokane Valley, ran two years ago in the Republican primary for a 6th District House seat, losing to fellow Republican John Ahern.
Last year, she and her family moved from south Spokane to the Ponderosa neighborhood. She and her husband have two children.
She grew up in Spokane Valley and graduated from Whitworth University in 1997. She holds a master’s degree in business administration.
O’Quinn has worked as director of education and workforce development for GSI since 2008, and she defends the organization as well as the county’s contribution to it.
She said GSI is important for coordinating economic development and community priorities. “You cannot do economic development in a silo,” she said.
O’Quinn’s resume dates to the late 1990s when she was a micro-enterprise development consultant for World Vision in Honduras. Her other jobs have involved nonprofits and a church mission program. She was the first executive director of the George Nethercutt Foundation for civic engagement among young people.
She said her priorities, if elected, are economic growth and job creation.
O’Quinn said she has the business expertise to improve customer service and efficiency in county government.
She supports moderate expansion of the urban growth boundary to open new land for development. “I think that keeps housing affordable,” she said.
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