A candidate for Spokane County Commissioner, District 3, Spokane County in the 2018 Washington General Election, Nov. 6
City: Spokane, Washington
Education: Graduated from Western High School in Las Vegas. Majored in architecture and minored in business finance at the University of Idaho.
Political experience: Has served three terms as a Spokane County commissioner. Served two terms on the Spokane City Council from 2002 to 2009. Served as the Nevada-Lidgerwood Neighborhood Council president from 1995 to 2001.
Work experience: Served in the Marine Corps from 1969 to 1972. Worked as an officer candidate school instructor in Quantico, Virginia. Has been an architect and developer in Spokane since 1977. Spent much of his career designing retail buildings.
Family: Married to Rosalie French. Has a daughter and a grandson.
Fundraising: Has raised nearly $140,000 as of Oct. 9, including more than $20,000 he's given himself via in-kind contributions. Prominent donors include a long list of contractors, home builders and political action committees representing the development industry. French also has donations from Amazon, Avista, Avista Corporation CEO Dennis Vermillion, Spokane Valley City Councilman Rod Higgins, Spokane Valley Mayor Pam Haley, the Kalispel Tribe of Indians and Gretchen McDevitt, a former board member of the Spokane County Republican Party and wife of former U.S. District Attorney for Eastern Washington Jim McDevitt.
As Washington moves forward on a new law to expand Spokane County’s board of commissioners from three members to five, the county is pushing back, with a lawsuit planned to block the expansion.
Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart said he’s joined the agency overseeing the region’s air pollution in direct response to new regulations and fees for marijuana business owners. Spokane County Commissioner Al French said the board’s actions aren’t partisan or designed to destroy the nascent industry.
The bill would take effect in 2022 and would add two members to the Spokane County Commission. It’s received bipartisan support in Olympia and the city of Spokane, but current county commissioners argue voters already nixed expansion in a decisive vote at the ballot box more than two years ago.
Dozens of marijuana farmers in Spokane County will have to pay fees ranging from $500 to $2,000 this year to cover the expenses of enforcing state laws governing nuisance smells. Several small farmers call the fees unfair, and say they could drive members of a fledgling industry out of business amid a potential further crackdown at the federal level.
Some agencies and departments that receive funding from Spokane County avoided steep cuts in 2018. The Spokane County Regional Health District isn’t one of them.
Commissioners Al French and Mary Kuney voted in favor of the spending plan, which will use money set aside from the road construction budget to cover day-to-day expenses next year for the first time. Commissioner Josh Kerns voted against, saying the county should have taken a deeper look at where it could cut funding.