A Democrat on the Spokane County Commission? Probably not.
Incumbent Republican Shelly O’Quinn easily won re-election Tuesday, and Republican Josh Kerns had a strong lead for the other open seat.
The three-member commission likely will remain homogeneously Republican. O’Quinn, who first won the seat in 2012, defeated Democrat Andrew Biviano, and Kerns had a healthy lead over Democrat Candace Mumm after the first night of counting in Tuesday’s election.
Kerns defeated incumbent Republican Commissioner Nancy McLaughlin in a surprising August primary.
O’Quinn received about 60 percent of Tuesday’s vote in the race for District 2, which encompasses the southeastern third of the county, including Spokane Valley and a corner of Spokane. She built much of her campaign on “lean management” strategies, which she says have saved the county millions of dollars during her time in office.
Her opponent, Biviano, is a former federal prosecutor and mental health case manager who works as a plaintiff’s attorney. He made criminal justice reform a pillar of his campaign and raised about $51,000 – about half as much as O’Quinn.
In his race, Kerns was leading Mumm with about 52 percent of the vote for District 1, which encompasses the northern third of the county. In the primary, Kerns painted himself as the more conservative option against McLaughlin. He opposes all tax increases and says he’ll promote jobs and development.
Mumm, a Spokane city councilwoman, raised about $85,000 for her campaign. Kerns raised about $52,000.
When the results showing Kerns with a comfortable lead were announced at an election night gathering for Donald Trump in Spokane Valley, state Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, told the crowd, “That’s what happens when we show up in force for liberty.”
Mumm gave a concession speech but insisted there’s a small chance late counting will turn the vote in her favor.
“There are a lot of ballots to count, but we know it’s a steep climb out of here,” she told a crowd of Democrats in the ballroom of Spokane’s Lincoln Center. “At the county level, it’s really hard to elect a Democrat.”
Mumm said Kerns will fuel the “hyper-partisan” nature of the all-Republican commission. She and Biviano said that’s cause for concern.
“What worries me is that we won’t have the balance that the county needs,” Biviano said. “We need to have a voice on there that reminds the commissioners of the other side of the coin.”
A Democrat hasn’t served on the commission since Bonnie Mager was defeated in 2010.
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