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Josh Kerns sworn in as Spokane County commissioner, replacing Nancy McLaughlin

Josh Kerns mingles with supporters before being sworn in as Spokane County commissioner on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, at the Spokane County Public Safety Building in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Josh Kerns mingles with supporters before being sworn in as Spokane County commissioner on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, at the Spokane County Public Safety Building in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Josh Kerns was sworn in as Spokane County commissioner Tuesday evening, replacing fellow Republican Nancy McLaughlin.

Kerns, who was a legislative aide for Republican state Rep. Jeff Holy, immediately assumed his official duties as commissioner after the November election was certified Tuesday.

Kerns, who has never held elected office, beat Democratic City Councilwoman Candace Mumm on Nov. 8 after an upset victory over McLaughlin in the August primary.

Throughout his campaign, Kerns criticized decisions McLaughlin made during her two terms on the Spokane City Council. Kerns portrayed her as an advocate of higher taxes and spending, although she is widely considered a staunch fiscal conservative.

McLaughlin later refused to endorse either Kerns or Mumm.

Spokane County District Court Judge Richard Leland, who officiated Kerns’ swearing-in, said, “It’s going to be an interesting transition.”

Commissioners Al French and Shelly O’Quinn delivered welcoming remarks and said they look forward to working with Kerns. State legislators including Sen. Michael Baumgartner were in attendance.

Kerns was joined by his parents, wife Nichole Kerns and their toddler son, Joey. He said his goal is “making Spokane County the best place to live, work and raise a family.”

McLaughlin didn’t attend and declined to comment Tuesday evening. Kerns took office under rules that say the term of an incumbent appointed to an office ends as soon as the election for the seat is certified. McLaughlin was appointed to the seat after Todd Mielke resigned to lead Greater Spokane Incorporated.


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