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

Endorsements and editorials are made solely by the ownership of this newspaper. As is the case at most newspapers across the nation, The Spokesman-Review newsroom and its editors are not a part of this endorsement process. (Learn more.)

Editorial Endorsements: Kuney and French for Spokane County commission

Among the candidates running for Spokane County commissioner are a relatively new commissioner and an experienced one. Mary Kuney in District 2 and Al French in District 3 deserve election on Nov. 6. Generally speaking, District 2 is the southeastern part of the county and District 3 is the western part.

District 1, the northeastern part of the county, is not up this year. Josh Kerns currently represents District 1.

District 2: Mary Kuney

This is a reprise of the 2014 race for county treasurer, which incumbent Republican Rob Chase won over Republican Mary Kuney. Then last year when Shelly O’Quinn resigned, Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Kuney to that commissioner vacancy. The current election is to fill the final two years of O’Quinn’s term.

Chase pledged to serve only two terms as treasurer and now is challenging Kuney. Both are solid candidates, and we believe either would do a good job.

Chase describes himself as a “paleo-conservative” harkening back to the likes of Robert Taft and H.L. Mencken. He was Eastern Washington coordinator for the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns of Ron Paul.

Kuney has strong Republican support but also endorsements from some Democrats and Democratic-leaning groups, such as labor unions. That speaks to her reputation for working well with a variety of people. So too does the fact that she is endorsed by several elected county officials who have worked with both Chase and her.

Her extensive experience as a state and county auditor is evident. She asks good questions, including her leadership on how the county jail can improve safety and stem the high number of inmate suicides. She also has a background in private business and volunteer leadership.

Kuney’s No. 1 priority is public safety, as it should be. Other key priorities are economic development and improved customer service. Chase lists his priorities as making sure county spending adds value before selling higher taxes; promoting transparency in county government to build public confidence; and engaging the public.

Chase has solid accomplishments as a treasurer, including working with legislators to change state law and allow partial payments on property tax bills. His financial knowledge of the county could be an asset as commissioner; however, Kuney appears to have an overall broader understanding of county issues, after being in the job for a year already.

District 3: Al French

Republican incumbent Al French beats Democratic newcomer Robbi Katherine Anthony as far as proven experience and knowledge of county issues. French was on the Spokane City Council for eight years and is seeking his third, four-year term as a county commissioner. Anthony, a 2014 graduate of The Evergreen State College, is making her first bid for elected office.

French was integral in the county-city cooperation that helped bring the Amazon fulfillment center to West Plains. Putting aside years of turf wars, the two governments agreed to share revenue and economic development opportunities in the area.

Although public safety is French’s top priority, he also focuses on economic development and sound fiscal policy. He helped the county navigate a budget deficit of more than $9 million last year and says the county now is in good shape as it heads toward 2019.

Both candidates seek improvements in the old, overcrowded Spokane County Jail.

District 3 leans more Democratic than the other two commissioner districts, and Anthony won 58 percent of the vote in the primary election. The race now will be decided countywide in the general election, and Spokane County leans more conservative. County voters will find more to like in French’s experience.

Our recommendations

Mary Kuney in District 2 and Al French in District 3 will provide a valuable mix of newer perspectives and veteran leadership. They deserve election.