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Wednesday, June 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Editorial

O’Quinn deserves second term

At the Spokane County Commission, the Districts 1 and 2 seats are being contested. In the primary, the editorial board chose Candace Mumm and Nancy McLaughlin to advance over Josh Kerns. McLaughlin finished third, so our endorsement goes to Mumm, who demonstrates greater experience and pragmatism. You can view the full editorial online.

District 2 pits incumbent Republican Shelly O’Quinn and Democratic attorney Andrew Biviano, both smart and sincere candidates. On the whole, O’Quinn’s views on county government align more closely with the board’s, and she has four years of experience. She gets our endorsement.

O’Quinn was elected in 2012, after serving as education and workforce development director for Greater Spokane Incorporated. She’s been in community-oriented jobs of one form or another since college graduation. Her drive to make a difference took her to the Spokane County Commission, where she has preached the message of reinventing government to make it more efficient and customer-friendly. As a result, she says, the county has cut more than $1 million in annual spending by streamlining county functions.

She says efficiency is paramount because the county is dealing with a structural deficit in which expenses rise faster than the collection of revenue, which is capped by law. She supports the Urban Growth Boundary compromise, saying lawsuits were a bad way to manage the issue. She points out that the Growth Management Act calls for planned growth, not no growth.

O’Quinn is a strong defender of the collaboration between GSI, which represents business interests, and the county’s economic development efforts. Her opponent, Andrew Biviano, says the county has gone too far in representing GSI’s interests, and says opposition to the Spokane Tribe’s casino project is an example.

On the other hand, the tribe’s contributions to the Democratic Party cannot be overlooked either. We opposed the casino for fear that encroachment could hurt the future of Fairchild Air Force Base, and have supported GSI’s efforts there and elsewhere, such as paving the way for the booming downtown Riverpoint campus.

Biviano is compelling on smart-justice reforms and has had a direct impact on issues associated with mental illness. He forced a change in county policy that resulted in fewer people being locked up when they couldn’t afford to pay fines. He recently won a case against the state to restore some privileges for patients at the state’s mental health hospitals.

Biviano supports the STA proposal to raise the sales tax to improve service, as do we. O’Quinn would prefer a smaller increase, saying STA is asking for more than it needs. And while we support O’Quinn, her recent comments about negative media coverage harming economic development prospects are naive.

Nonetheless, we believe O’Quinn has worked hard and earned a second term as county commissioner.

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