Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 80° Partly Cloudy

Spokane County Sheriff

Election Results

Candidate Votes Pct
John Nowels (R) 65,201 55.44%
Wade Nelson (R) 34,436 29.28%
Michael Zollars (R) 17,976 15.28%

* Race percentages are calculated with data from the Secretary of State's Office, which omits write-in votes from its calculations when there are too few to affect the outcome. The Spokane County Auditor's Office may have slightly different percentages than are reflected here because its figures include any write-in votes.

The Candidates

John Nowels

Newman Lake, Washington

Education: Graduated from Central Valley High School. Graduated from Eastern Washington University with bachelor's degree in criminal justice. Graduated from University of Oklahoma with master's degree in organizational leadership.

Political experience: Republican precinct committee officer.

Work experience: Worked 24 years at Spokane County Sheriff's Office in various roles, including patrolman, traffic, property crimes detective, undercover narcotics detective and supervisor, chief criminal deputy and current undersheriff. 

Family: Married. Has four children.

Fundraising: $60,627.57 as of July 13, including Avista Utilities, Spokane County deputy prosecuting attorneys Preston McCollam and Sharon Hedlund, Spokane attorney Joe Kuhlman, Spokane County Commissioner Mary Kuney, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, sheriff's office Cpl. and spokesman Mark Gregory and other sheriff's office employees. 

Wade Nelson


Education: Graduated from Creston High School in Creston, Washington. Spent one year in college. 

Political experience: None

Work experience: Worked six years as intelligence specialist in U.S. Navy. Worked two years at a computer company. Worked 21 years at the Spokane County Sheriff's Office in various roles, including patrolman, search and rescue, marine enforcement, emergency operations team, defense tactics instructor, sexual assault unit detective and women's self-defense course instructor.

Family: Married. Has three children. 

Fundraising: $22,956.80, as of July 13, including more than half from himself or "Wade Nelson For Sheriff." 

Michael Zollars

Chattaroy, Washington

Education: Graduated from Riverside High School in Chattaroy. Earned an associate of applied science degree from Spokane Community College.

Political experience: None

Work experience: Worked 33 years at the Spokane County Sheriff's Office in various roles, including patrolman, DUI enforcement, property crimes task force, traffic sergeant, night shift patrol commander and SWAT team. Volunteered last 38 years as firefighter and EMT at Spokane County Fire District 4. Worked as sergeant with Kalispel Tribal Police Department since October. 

Family: Engaged to be married. Has six children. 

Fundraising: $3,126 as of July 13, including $2,500 from himself. 

Complete Coverage

Nowels, Nelson finish in top two to replace outgoing Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich

The two candidates for Spokane County sheriff in November will be Ozzie Knezovich’s right-hand man and a 21-year veteran of the department.

Haven’t yet voted in the primary election? Here’s what’s at stake in Spokane County

For those who liking waiting to the last minute to cast their ballots, here’s a look at the candidate field. 

Three Republicans vie to replace four-term Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich

There will be a new sheriff in town come January, and it will be a Republican with at least two decades of experience in the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich endorses undersheriff in November election

“Sheriff Ozzie has been a huge advocate for this community,” Undersheriff John Nowels, 49, said in an interview this week. “ I understand what his vision for Spokane has been, and what it is going into the future. I have a similar vision for it.”