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Don Harmon, Airway Heights’ mayor in the late 1990s, enters county commission race against Al French

May 16, 2022 Updated Tue., May 17, 2022 at 9:50 a.m.

Don Harmon, seen here in this 1994 photo, is running for county commissioner as a Republican against incumbent Al French.  (Shawn Jacobson/The Spokesman-Review)
Don Harmon, seen here in this 1994 photo, is running for county commissioner as a Republican against incumbent Al French. (Shawn Jacobson/The Spokesman-Review)

Republican County Commissioner Al French will face at least one other member of his party in his re-election bid in the August primary.

Republican Don Harmon, 76, filed to run for election Monday. He served as Airway Heights’ mayor from 1994 to 1998 and has sat on a handful of regional boards, including the Spokane Regional Health District’s Board of Health and the Spokane Transit Authority’s board of directors.

Harmon is running for District 5, a new district that covers the West Plains, part of the upper South Hill and northwest Spokane.

The 2022 election will be historic for the Spokane County Commission. The county is transitioning from three to five commissioners and each of them will represent one district, not the county as a whole.

District 5 could be hotly contested. The candidate field now includes Republicans French and Harmon, Democrat Maggie Yates and independent Tara Carter. Yates and Carter have announced they’re in the race but haven’t yet formally filed to run.

Harmon has a simple campaign platform so far. He said he’d focus on police and roads if elected.

“Our roads suck; our police department is hurting in every way,” Harmon said. “People are speeding around town everywhere. It’s like nobody cares anymore.”

“When you retire in Alaska, what’re you going to do?” he said. “I decided to live down here where there are still four seasons.”

Harmon graduated from West Anchorage High School in the early 1960s, then served in the Navy as a pilot trainer until 1969.

After leaving the military he had a few different jobs. At different times he worked on the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline and was a union representative for the Teamsters.

Harmon said even though he hasn’t been officially involved in local government since the late 1990s he still follows local politics “extremely closely.” He said West Plains residents need a new commissioner who’s more responsive to their concerns.

“I think people in charge today have lost sight of what they went in there for,” Harmon said.

Campaign fundraising

French leads all county candidates in fundraising. He’s mustered more than $74,000, although roughly $24,000 of that comes from in-kind contributions he’s made to himself. Some of French’s notable donors include builders and developers, Avista, the Kalispel Tribe, Spokane Valley Mayor Pam Haley and Spokane Valley City Councilman Rod Higgins.

Yates, with $42,000, has raised the third most among county commissioner candidates – behind only French and District 2 candidate Amber Waldref.

Her most recognizable donors include Department of Commerce Director and former Washington State Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, current and former Spokane City Council Presidents Breean Beggs and Ben Stuckart, Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho Vice President Paul Dillon, state representatives Marcus Riccelli and Timm Ormsby, Spokane City Prosecutor Justin Bingham and former County Commissioner Bonnie Mager.

Carter hasn’t listed any campaign fundraising with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission.

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