GOP to select nine replacement options for three county commissioners this Saturday

By: 
RaeLynn Ricarte
Editor

The Stevens County Republican Party is expecting a long day on Saturday, Oct. 10, when they convene to select nine nominees for three vacated county commissioner positions.

Mitch Short, chair of the party, said there were 28 candidates as of press time on Monday. He said more applicants were expected and everyone who came forward would be given the opportunity to make a short speech and then answer a question posed by all or some of 28 elected Precinct Committee Officers. Each candidate has been asked to provide a cover letter, resume and answer a questionnaire in advance of the proceedings. The doors at the Chewelah Civic Center, 301 E. Clay Street, open at 9 a.m. on that day and the proceedings begin about an hour later.

“People are welcome to come and observe,” said Short.

He said masks will be required for entry and those in attendance will be spaced out to comply with social distancing guidelines.

“If we start filling up the space then we will need to limit attendance to meet the guidelines,” he said.

Once all of the candidates have been heard from, Short said the PCOs will vote on three candidates for each of Districts 1, 2 and 3. Those districts no longer have representation following the conclusion of a lawsuit that found them liable for misspending public funds on two private projects. Wes McCart, Steve Parker and Don Dashiell, all Republicans, could no longer serve following that ruling by Spokane Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno because their surety bonds were violated.

The bonds are a type of liability insurance to protect citizens against wrongful decisions made by elected officials. State archives show that the last time an entire board was replaced for misconduct was in 1939, so the local GOP is faced with a rare process.

Short said the names of three finalists in each district will be submitted to Gov. Jay Inslee for consideration. He will pick a person to serve from two districts and they will pick the third. The names of the nominees will be made public, said Short.

People interested in applying can still do so via an email contact form at www.stevenscountyrepulicans.org or through the party's Facebook page. Short said the governor has 30 days to make the appointments, but is aware of the situation so could move faster. Inslee might also choose, said Short, to let the District 1 and District 3 positions be decided by voters on Nov. 3.

McCart is facing off with Democrat Mike Bell in the District 1 race. McCart captured nearly 72% of the vote in the August primary and said last week that there will be no difficulty securing another bond if he is elected.

Parker lost the District 3 race in August and the contenders for that seat in November are Republican Greg Young and Malcolm Friedman, who is unaffiliated with a political party. Dashiell had two years left on his term for District 2. However, by state law the person appointed to fill his spot will have to run for election in November 2021. Meanwhile, five of the seven elected officials running county departments took an oath of office Oct. 1 as interim commissioners.

They also obtained an extra bond to be able to make financial decisions for the county until new commissioners are in place. The interim board elected Sheriff Brad Manke as chair and then set to work to process applications for businesses that have been approved for grants up to $10,000 from federal stimulus dollars.

Those applications have been on hold the past month and the clock is ticking on funding availability. If the county does not distribute the $2.5 million it received by the end of November, the funds will have to be returned to the state Department of Commerce. The former commission set aside $500,000 to cover county expenses related to the COVID-19 crisis, including provision of personal protection equipment and sanitation supplies.

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