A political newcomer is running for office against Spokane County Commissioner Al French, giving the longtime incumbent his first challenger for the 2022 election cycle.
Tara Carter, 47, is vying for Spokane County’s newly created 5th commissioner district, which covers the West Plains, the northwestern corner of Spokane and a sizable chunk of the South Hill.
An independent, Carter has spent the last seven years as a Spokane County District Court clerk. She went to high school in Newport, Washington, and held a variety of jobs over the years before working in the criminal justice system.
Carter said she can bring a fresh perspective to the County Commission. She added that she believes some county politicians have been in office too long.
“What I’m seeing is not working,” she said. “I don’t think political positions should be lifetime positions.”
Carter doesn’t have any specific policy ideas yet, but she highlighted a couple of goals she’d have if she wins election.
District Court itself would be one of her priorities. She said she feels the court is heading in the wrong direction and underpays its employees. County employees in general are underpaid, Carter said.
Carter said she’d also focus on homelessness if voters make her a county commissioner.
Housing people is important, Carter said, but fixing the underlying causes of homelessness is paramount.
Spokane County can do a better job helping people access health care and education, Carter said. The county should help people learn to look after themselves, which in turn will reduce crime, Carter said.
“I really want to focus on stabilizing our community,” she said. “I think that the epidemic of homelessness, mental health issues, drug and alcohol issues, has affected almost everyone in our community on one level or another.”
While Carter is just the eighth person to announce a 2022 county commissioner run, the field could grow significantly between now and the May 16 filing deadline. Voters will be electing five commissioners at once this year.
Spokane County has had three commissioners who run in district-specific primary elections and countywide general elections. As a whole, county voters lean Republican, and no Democratic candidate has managed to win the countywide election in over a decade.
The three-commissioner setup will end this year. A 2018 state law required the county to move to five commissioners, and those commissioners will no longer represent the county as a whole. They’ll represent specific districts, and it’s unlikely all of those districts will elect Republicans.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to add that Carter feels county employees in general are underpaid.