A Democrat has announced that she is mounting a write-in campaign for Spokane County clerk after no Democrats filed for the office during the spring filing period.
Mary M. Wissink, 57, of Spokane, would need write-in votes on 1 percent of all ballots cast in the Aug. 5 primary election to qualify for the general election ballot. That would be an estimated 900 to 1,100 votes depending on the strength of the turnout.
Currently, the only candidate in the race is Republican Timothy W. Fitzgerald, who was appointed to the office last April to replace retiring longtime clerk Tom Fallquist.
Wissink, a paralegal and former judicial assistant, said she has far more experience in Spokane’s legal system than Fitzgerald, a retired Marine Corps colonel. She said Fitzgerald “hadn’t even seen the inside of the Courthouse until he applied for the job. I go over there three times a week.”
Fitzgerald, 54, said his 30-year career in the Marines gave him a large amount of executive experience, including a stint as chief of staff of the First Marine Expeditionary Force Forward in Afghanistan in 2012 and 2013.
He said he is skilled at leadership and motivation. “I’m a big believer in public service,” he said.
Wissink said she was approached by associates in the legal community as well as friends, who asked her if she would run.
She said voters deserve to have a choice when replacing an important county officeholder. The county clerk is in charge of Superior Court’s record-keeping, financial matters and legal filings.
Wissink earned an associate’s degree in 1988 from Albuquerque Career Institute as an advanced paralegal. She served as an assistant in the Spokane County prosecutor’s office and the city of Spokane public defender’s office in the early 1990s.
From 1992 to 2003, she worked as a paralegal and judicial assistant for retired Superior Court Judge Michael Donohue. She is currently working in a law office with her attorney husband, Tom McGarry.
Fitzgerald, who grew up in a military family, earned a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Military Institute in 1983 and a master’s degree in national resource strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 2005. He served as a deputy operations officer for the Multi-Nation Force West in Iraq in 2008 and 2009.
County Auditor Vicky Dalton said voters must fill in the ballot bubble next to the write-in line and then write in the name of their candidate to have the vote counted. She asked that voters not write in frivolous candidates because that slows counting and wastes staff time.