Spokane County Clerk Thomas R. Fallquist is stepping down after nearly 32 years in office, he said Friday.
The Republican clerk said he is leaving as of Monday due to a medical condition that prevents him from continuing in office.
“I will always be appreciative of the trust and support I have received from the citizens of this region,” Fallquist said in a prepared statement.
“I’m grateful for a career that involved working with the Spokane County Superior Court, the Spokane Bar Association and attorneys throughout the state,” he said.
Fallquist, a Ferris High School and Washington State University graduate, began his courthouse career as a deputy county clerk while attending Spokane Falls Community College.
He later worked as a bailiff in Spokane County Superior Court. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Eastern Washington University.
Fallquist is the son of longtime U.S. District Court Clerk J.R. “Bob” Fallquist.
The younger Fallquist was first appointed as clerk in May 1982 at the age of 26 and won his first election the following November to become the youngest person in the state to serve in elective office.
He is nearing the end of his eighth four-year term.
Fallquist originally filled the office that had been held by Miles P. Eslick.
Fallquist’s great-uncle, George Fallquist, was Eslick’s predecessor.
County Commissioner Al French said he and his two fellow commissioners will have another staff member in the clerk’s office take over temporarily while a formal appointment process begins. The county’s Republican Party will seek applications and then recommend three potential appointees to county commissioners, who are likely to decide from among the nominees, French said.
“He has set a high bar,” French said. “He was always putting the county in front of his personal interests.”
French said the commissioners will look for someone with the training and experience needed for the office.
Fallquist has operated one of the county’s busiest offices, where documents are filed and maintained for use by the courts, attorneys and the public. He and his staff have been known over the years for their openness and responsiveness.
One of his chief concerns has been making sure that financial legal obligations are paid to crime victims. He is the financial officer of Superior Court.
“Tom has always been someone who works hard to find solutions. We need more people like him in public office,” County Commissioner Todd Mielke said in a prepared statement. “I wish him the very best as he works with his medical team to focus on getting better.”
Fallquist credited his staff for being “tirelessly committed to serving the public .”
He has served as president of the Washington State Association of County Clerks and was selected a county clerk of the year. He also served on the justice and public safety committee of the National Association of County Officials.