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

Rick Freier captures most votes in race for Spokane Valley Fire Commission

Former fire investigator Rick Freier has easily clinched a spot in the November election following Tuesday’s primary, but it isn’t yet clear who will face him this fall in the race for an open seat on the board that oversees the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Freier will head into the general election as the favorite after taking 53.4% of the vote. It’s a neck-and-neck race for the second spot on the November ballot, however.

George Orr, a former state lawmaker, has 23.4% of the vote, and one-time Spokane Valley Mayor Diana Wilhite sits at 22.9%. The race is too close to call.

Regardless of who joins Freier in the general election, two candidates will be competing to become the newest member of the Spokane Valley Fire Department’s board of commissioners, which manages the department’s $57 million budget. Candidates will vie for the seat held by Bill Anderson, who isn’t seeking re-election.

Orr, 80, served as a Democratic state legislator in the 1990s and spent more than 30 years as a Spokane Valley firefighter. He has said he’d like the department to promote future chiefs from within, rather than recruiting outside hires.

Wilhite, 77, is best known as one of the Valley’s inaugural council members and earliest mayors. A longtime Republican, she has said she wouldn’t come into office with any specific policy goals if elected, although she hopes to increase the number of female firefighters.

Freier, 52, spent more than two decades as a firefighter before retiring this spring after a bout with skin cancer. Before his retirement, Freier worked as a fire investigator and handler of Mako, the arson dog.