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

‘A fresh start for Spokane County’: Democrats Waldref, Jordan sworn in as county commissioners

Spokane County Commissioner-elect Amber Waldref, left, is all smiles Thursday after taking the oath of office while her daughters, Karolina and Nora, look on.  (Colin Tiernan/The Spokesman-Review)

The era of the five-member Spokane County Commission has informally begun.

Democrats Amber Waldref and Chris Jordan were sworn in Thursday as county commissioners. Both won election to the county commission in November and will officially take office in January.

Swearings in are rarely ballyhooed events, but Waldref and Jordan’s ceremony attracted a large crowd. State representatives, City Council members and a long list of county officials braved the single-digit temperatures to attend.

Jordan and Waldref’s election to the commission marks a historic change for Spokane County government.

Until this year, Spokane County commissioners ran in district-specific primary elections and countywide general elections. It was a system that favored conservative candidates, since a majority of county voters lean Republican.

But the system changed in 2022 thanks to a law the Washington Legislature passed four years earlier. Voters this fall elected five Spokane County commissioners, each of whom will represent one district.

Three of those commissioners – incumbents Mary Kuney, Josh Kerns and Al French – are Republicans. Jordan and Waldref, whose districts cover most of Spokane, are the first liberals to win election to the county commission since Bonnie Mager in 2006.

In a speech following his swearing in, Jordan acknowledged the move to a bipartisan commission could lead to conflict at times.

“I don’t think we’ll agree on every last thing, and that’s OK. That’s democracy,” Jordan said. “This marks a fresh start for Spokane County.”