Spokane County Commissioners voted yesterday, 2-1, to extend a job offer for Gerry Gemmill to replace Marshall Farnell as chief executive.
On Wednesday, Farnell added to the list of county officials endorsing Gemmill as a worthy successor.
"One of his fortes during his time in the county, was that he spent a lot of time in labor negotiations," Farnell said. "He kind of has a foot ahead of everybody else."
Gemmill started as a heavy equipment operator in the county's Roads and Engineering Department in 1975, according to a resume distributed to media by Commissioner Todd Mielke on Tuesday afternoon. That resume is posted below (personal information redacted). He worked his way to human resources manager in the Engineering Department before being named the county's operations director in February 2004. In that position, he served as assistant to the CEO. Farnell took over that position in August 2004, after Francine Boxer resigned.
Mielke said Tuesday that Gemmill was being groomed to replace Farnell, before Gemmill left for a job with the city of Spokane.
Farnell said Gemmill's familiarity with department heads and public works operations would be an asset when he takes office, which is expected to occur before the end of the year.
"He's kind of an upbeat person; he's never had a bad day," Farnell said of Gemmill. "I don't think I've ever seen Gerry mad. I, honest to God, can't remember him ever being mad."
Farnell joins several other Spokane County officials who released a joint statement Tuesday supporting Gemmill's hiring.
“Gerry is a great people person,” said Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton in her statement. “Everyone considers him a friend because of his easy-going, disarming personality.”
“Gerry has friends throughout the region. As an agency that serves the area, I want someone who has solid relationships throughout the community and has worked with the other jurisdictions," said Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.
"I’m happy that our Commissioners have found a strong leader with the kind of connections and experience that will benefit the entire Spokane County community," said Spokane County Assessor Vicki Horton.
According to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission, Gemmill contributed $316.50 to Mielke's re-election campaign in 2012. He has not contributed to the most recent campaigns of Al French nor Shelly O'Quinn.
Farnell has agreed to stay on through the end of the year, after serving Spokane County for more than 40 years. He officially announced his retirement early this year and has known for some time his last day in office was coming.
"We've already had the girls jumping out of the cake," he joked. "We've already had all the parties."
Farnell said he'd spend some of his retirement focusing his attention on running. He's participated in many of the Bloomsday events over the years.
"I have to get back to seven-minute-mile pace," he said. "It's all good, it's been a great career."