After nearly 32 years in elected office as the Spokane County clerk, Tom Fallquist stepped down from his post effective last Monday.
In a letter to Spokane County Commissioners, Fallquist stated that a medical condition now prevents him from serving the remainder of his term as county clerk and clerk of the Superior Court. Fallquist communicated to commissioners that he was “faced with a difficult decision” and one that he “never anticipated that he would have to make.”
Fallquist determined that is was necessary for him to discontinue serving at this time.
“I will always be appreciative of the trust and support I have received from the citizens of this region,” stated Fallquist. “I’m grateful for a career that involved working with the Spokane County Superior Court, the Spokane County Bar Association, and attorneys throughout the state. Most importantly, I want to thank and applaud my staff, who have been tirelessly committed to serving the public and for whom I am very proud.”
The position of county clerk is a four-year elected office that represents the citizens as the financial officer of the Superior Court and is responsible for management and complex processing of the official records of the Superior Court system. In this position, Fallquist has been a champion for collecting legal financial obligations owed to victims. He has also pushed for advancements in sharing Superior Court records electronically with law enforcement and the justice system throughout the region.
Fallquist’s great-uncle previously held the same office from 1952 to 1973, and his father served as the United States District clerk of the Court for Eastern Washington.
First appointed to the office in May 1982 at age 26, Fallquist holds the title of the youngest person to serve in county elected office in Washington state. He is currently serving in his eighth term and is the most senior elected official in Spokane County.
“Tom has always been someone who works hard to find solutions. We need more people like him in public office,” said Spokane County Commissioner Todd Mielke. “I wish him the very best as he works with his medical team to focus on getting better.”
During his time in office, Fallquist has been active in a number of statewide organizations. He was elected president of the Washington Association of County Officials in 1988, 2004 and 2012. WACO includes county assessors, auditors, county clerks, coroners, medical examiners, prosecuting attorneys, sheriffs and treasurers.
Fallquist was selected twice by the chief justice of the Washington state Supreme Court to serve on high-profile commissions – first as the only Eastern Washington representative named to the Gates Commission, created to draft a plan to completely improve the court system, and second as the founding member of the court’s Gender and Justice Commission.
Fallquist served as a longtime member of the state Board for Court Education and was a vice chairman of the state Court Management Council.
Additionally, he served as the president of the Washington State Association of County Clerks and was named as a “County Clerk of the Year.” Fallquist also spent a number of years serving on the Justice and Public Safety Committee of the National Association of County Officials.
“Tom has exemplified what it means to be part of something bigger than yourself,” said James McMahan, executive director of the Washington Association of County Officials. “Not only is Tom considered a leader among county elected officials across the state, he’s also considered a friend.”
Fallquist earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Washington State University and a master’s degree in public administration from Eastern Washington University. He also earned numerous postgraduate certificates from EWU, the University of Washington and the state Board for Court Education.
“During my years in elective office, I have met and worked with so many wonderful, talented and dedicated county officials and employees throughout the state,” said Fallquist. “These people have been fantastic to work with and are making a positive difference every day”.
While Fallquist’s term in office would normally conclude at the end of this year, state law requires the Board of County Commissioners to appoint a replacement to serve through the remainder of his term. Commissioners are expected to name an acting county clerk until a replacement is appointed.
Since the position is also up for election this year, the person appointed, as well as anyone else interested in holding the position beyond 2014, must file to run for the office in May.