Local news

Spokane County Commission seat likely three-way fight

Former Democratic County Commissioner Bonnie Mager is seeking a rematch with the Republican who unseated her in 2010, only this time she is running as an independent.

Mager lost in a close race to Commissioner Al French for the District 3 seat on the Spokane County Board of Commissioners. French beat Mager by 2,700 votes out of 173,000 that were cast.

“I’m going to give him a run for his money,” Mager said Wednesday about the rematch.

She said she decided to run as an independent because she does not believe that the county should be run by a partisan board.

“We really need to get past the party politics stuff and work on solutions,” she said.

Since Mager’s departure, the board has consisted of three Republicans who in recent years have voted unanimously again and again.

Mager’s challenge to the GOP’s French is expected to become a three-way race.

Mary Lou Johnson, who has been active in the Smart Justice campaign for criminal justice reform, has scheduled an announcement for today that she is going to run for the District 3 seat as a Democrat.

The top two vote-getters in the Aug. 5 primary election will advance to the Nov. 4 general election.

Mager said criminal justice reforms need to be implemented to reduce demand for jail cells and the number of repeat offenders before the public is asked to consider jail expansion.

Mager took aim at the current commissioners, including French, for spending $300,000 to argue against development of a casino and resort on the west end of Airway Heights near Fairchild Air Force Base.

“We should not be spending taxpayers’ money to stop economic development on the West Plains,” she said.

She said “it is pretty well documented” that a casino is not a threat to Fairchild.

French, his fellow commissioners and downtown business leaders are arguing that a casino will create problematic civilian encroachment of the base, which could result in Fairchild being closed in the future as the Air Force downsizes facilities.

Mager also said she believes the current commissioners are continuing a strategy of expanding urban growth areas to benefit developers, even though the expansion may be overturned later in the courts.

Mager said she is working on a state initiative campaign calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that campaign contributions are not a right of free speech and that corporate contributions should not be given the same status as individuals.



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