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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Andrew Biviano takes on Shelly O’Quinn for Spokane County commissioner

Shelly O'Quinn has drawn the first challenger for the Spokane County Commission seat she's held since 2012. 

Andrew Biviano, 40, filed paperwork Friday with the Washington Public Disclosure Commission identifying himself as a Democrat, but did not list the seat he was seeking. But Biviano lives in O'Quinn's district, which encompasses the southeastern swathe of Spokane County, and confirmed by telephone Monday he will seek that seat.

"There's a lack of progressive champions on the county level," said Biviano, an attorney at the firm Paukert & Troppmann, where Spokane City Councilman Breean Breggs also works. "It's all Republican, but still dysfunctional." 

Biviano referred to the public spat between O'Quinn and Commissioner Al French, which came to a head during a heated public meeting last September. He said he'd bring a cooler head to the dais.

O'Quinn said the dispute was over a major issue - funding for public transportation - and reflected her ability to constructively disagree with people in her party.

"I think we have done a really good job of figuring out how to work together," O'Quinn said of French.

Biviano previously served as a mental health case worker and a federal prosecutor before going into private practice. He said he would bring experience in those areas to the commission, which is grappling with mounting criminal justice costs and reform efforts at the aging and overcrowded Spokane County Jail. 

O'Quinn said she believed the people of the county are looking for "a reasonable voice in politics and government." 

"People want to make sure that we're spending their money wisely, and responding to their needs," she said.

Biviano pointed to the national Republican race, and presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, as a reason he believed he could be successful in what he called "the challenge in front of me." The last Democrat to serve on the commission was Bonnie Mager, who left office in 2010.

"The Republican party is revealing itself at the national and local level, looking at Trump as their standard-bearer, with open bigotry and hostility towards minority groups on full display," Biviano said.

O'Quinn said she believed local voters would focus on what's happening in the community and not pay attention to what's going on at the top of the ticket when they cast their ballots.

O'Quinn and Biviano are the only two candidates that have filed thus far for the commissioner seat. The other commissioner facing re-election, political appointee Nancy McLaughlin, has drawn challenges from both the right and the left. Republican Josh Kerns and Democrat Candace Mumm have both filed to run against McLaughlin.

McLaughlin has raised the most money of her opponents, amassing $27,912 in donations to Kerns' $5,270 and Mumm's $5,160. The top two vote-getters in an August primary, which will only include voters in the district of the county McLaughlin represents, will advance to November's general election, which will include voters countywide.

O'Quinn reports contributions of $29,276. Biviano has not yet reported any contributions.

Kip Hill
Kip Hill joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the City Desk, covering the marijuana industry, local politics and breaking news. He previously hosted the newspaper's podcast.

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