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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Republicans Mielke, O’Quinn lead commission races

Republicans are poised to retain control of the Spokane County Board of Commissioners as two races on Tuesday’s ballot were leaning toward the GOP candidates in initial returns.

Republican Commissioner Todd Mielke was leading Democrat John Roskelley for the District 1 seat.

Shelly O’Quinn, a Republican, was out in front of former television broadcaster Daryl Romeyn in District 2. That seat is being vacated by two-term Commissioner Mark Richard, a Republican.

Both Mielke and O’Quinn gathered about 54 percent of the vote against their challengers with more than half the potential vote counted Tuesday night.

The winners will serve with Republican Commissioner Al French, whose job goes on the ballot in 2014.

O’Quinn, 37, is making her second try for elective office, losing in a 6th Legislative District primary race two years ago.

She reached out for her husband, Sean, for a hug after results were announced at a Republican gathering at the Davenport Hotel.

“We knocked on a lot of doors and made a lot of phone calls,” she said.

Voters apparently liked her message, she said. “It’s all about jobs. It’s all about creating a business-friendly county government.”

O’Quinn is the education and workforce development director for Greater Spokane Incorporated, the region’s central business development organization.

A native of Spokane Valley, O’Quinn graduated from Central Valley High School. She received her bachelor’s degree from Whitworth University in business and accounting in 1997.

Her opponent, Romeyn, 54, was making his second run at elective office, losing last year to U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane.

He said he was hoping his anti-tax message would gather some tea party support, but the business community “pulled out all of the stops to do what they could to shut me down.”

He was dwarfed in campaign spending, gathering only $7,000 to O’Quinn’s $86,800.

Mielke, 48, fashioned his campaign around a series of high-profile projects he has undertaken in his two terms on the commission.

On Tuesday, he said the support from voters validated his work and his active approach to finding solutions, including an effort to improve performance of the criminal justice system and to possibly build a new jail facility to replace Geiger Corrections Center.

He was first elected commissioner in 2004 and is a graduate of Eastern Washington University.

“I’ve tried to be a problem solver,” he said.

The effort to bring aerospace manufacturers, possibly Boeing, to the West Plains is among his issues.

Mielke is seeking a combined animal control program in a former retail building on Trent Avenue. It would combine SpokAnimal in Spokane with the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service.

Roskelley, 63, held the District 1 seat from 1995 to 2004 and was seeking a comeback this year.

Roskelley attended a gathering of Democrats at Red Lion Hotel at the Park but left early in the evening.

The international mountaineer, author and environmentalist ran on a no-tax platform, criticizing Mielke on several issues, including the county’s $600,000 purchase of a piece of Geiger rail spur property owned by a Mielke campaign contributor.

He said he opposes expanding the urban growth area and extending sewer lines along U.S. Highway 2 in the northern part of Mead.

After leaving the County Commission, Roskelley served on the Growth Management Hearings Board for Eastern Washington until 2010.

Mielke raised $149,500 for his campaign, compared with $49,700 for Roskelley.

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