The race for Spokane County Commission has gotten bogged down in political muck. Let’s wipe that away first.
Incumbent Todd Mielke, a Republican, tried to get Democrat opponent John Roskelley tossed off the ballot with a charge he wasn’t living in the right district. A judge ruled in Roskelley’s favor. A family feud among developers enmeshed Mielke, who asked for a campaign contribution at an inopportune time.
No laws have been violated, so let’s move on to the issues that actually matter.
Mielke is wrapping up his eighth year on the commission. Roskelley served the same amount of time before departing. Both have records to run on. Mielke is one of the most knowledgeable and best prepared among local leaders, but he has made some mistakes, most notably in pushing to purchase Spokane Raceway Park. His argument that he was expanding the recreational choices for county residents misses one salient point: The spending came about at a time when the county had higher priorities.
Nonetheless, we believe he is the best choice. His advocacy for economic development and low taxes is needed as the region tries to emerge from an economic stupor. He’s right about government needing to be more efficient and nimble so it can react quickly to challenges. The competition for the Caterpillar facility is a prime example. Working with, rather than against, business is a key to growth.
Mielke has demonstrated a willingness to reach out to accomplish regional goals. His attempt to secure a much-needed animal control facility is one example. Mielke does not govern as an ideologue, as evidenced by his opposition to naming Republican Party favorite Harvey Dunham to a judgeship, when several other candidates were rated higher. He also advocated for an important sales tax increase, so the mentally ill could be treated rather than incarcerated. He spotlighted the potential of Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich early on.
He has helped deliver a vital wastewater treatment plant and re-establish Crime Check. We share his concerns about the viability of the aging Geiger Corrections Center, which was not built to be a full-time jail.
Roskelley has tried to paint Mielke as a profligate tax-and-spender, but that’s a stretch. He questioned the need for the animal control levy, saying pet owners should bear all of the costs. That might’ve worked in Calgary, which he touts, but this region doesn’t have the big government mentality – or oil dollars – of Canada. We still need a solution.
He opposes a new jail and the county contributing to Greater Spokane Incorporated, the latter opposition being very short-sighted.
Roskelley is practically alone in questioning the need for the North Spokane Corridor. This assessment misses the potential economic gains from finally having a convenient byway that extends to the north from Interstate 90. Then again, Roskelley has always been a stern protector of the environment and advocate of growth management. Commendable, to a point, but the county needs a more balanced approach.
We recommend re-electing Mielke.