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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

GOP backs Walker for sheriff

Spokane Valley Police Chief Cal Walker won a lopsided Republican Party vote this week in his bid to become the next sheriff.

Spokane County Republican Party precinct committee officers voted Wednesday on their preferences for who the next sheriff should be.

Spokane County commissioners will have the final say but will use three names submitted to them from the party as a recommendation.

Walker received 48 votes in Wednesday’s party vote. Coming in second was Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputies Association President Ozzie Knezovich with 24. Spokane County Sheriff’s Lt. Jim Finke received 14.

Republican Sheriff Mark Sterk announced in August that he would leave his post March 31 to become a director at a Nazarene conference center in Stevens County. He has recommended Walker for the job.

The appointed sheriff will fill out Sterk’s term through 2006, after which an elected sheriff will take over.

Finke, who has worked for the Sheriff’s Office for 31 years, was the only candidate who hadn’t publicly announced his candidacy. He said he won’t run for sheriff in the next election unless the commission chooses him for the vacancy.

Walker and Knezovich have announced plans to run in the November sheriff’s election.

Walker said that with Sterk and Spokane Police Chief Roger Bragdon retiring next year, the sheriff’s post is best filled by someone with the kind of leadership experience he’s had as the Spokane Valley Police chief.

Finke ran for the post against Sterk in 1998 as a Democrat and won 46 percent of the vote.

“I feel like I have the qualifications and the leadership that would benefit the citizens of Spokane County,” he said.

Knezovich, who has been a sheriff’s deputy for 10 years, could not be reached Thursday evening.