When Spokane County commissioner-appointee Nancy McLaughlin, to the surprise of many, was rejected by voters in the September primary in District 1, the way was suddenly clear for Democrat Candace Mumm and Republican Josh Kerns.
Kerns, who owns a marketing company, has the backing of 4th District Rep. Matt Shea. Mumm is on the Spokane City Council and the head of a real estate investment company.
Family/How long living in the area: I am a lifelong resident of Spokane County. Born and raised in the Mead/Colbert area. I have been married to my wife Nichole for almost five years and we have a 2-year-old son.
Why did you want to file for candidacy? Having worked for the Washington state House of Representatives for the last six years, I saw a lot of the good that government can do, but also a lot of the bad that government can do. Most of all, I saw the major role that local government plays in our everyday lives. It's not always the exciting stuff, but it's the services our community depends upon.
My experience working with government from the inside, but also from the outside as a small business owner drove me to file for this office to make sure we are spending precious taxpayer dollars as efficiently and effectively as possible.
What are your goals for the board over the next four years? To promote an environment that encourages our existing businesses to expand and attract new employers to locate here. The more people in our community who are employed and working, the better off our county is. Jobs really do solve so many problems that we face as a community.
When more people are employed, they are buying homes, shopping at retail establishments, and eating out at restaurants. This will create a positive ripple effect throughout our economy.
When our economy is thriving, our community is thriving.
What, in your mind, is the biggest issue facing Spokane County in the immediate future? Job opportunity. Too many people in our community are either unemployed or underemployed. I continue to hear people echo this all across the county. We must create an environment that encourages our existing businesses to expand and attract new businesses to locate here so they can put people to work. This will have a major impact on the county’s budget and allows us to deliver the essential services we depend on.
What surprising issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops? I have been surprised how many people know about and fear the rising rates of property crime in our community. Spokane ranks at the top of the list for the highest property crime rates in our state and we must combat it.
We need to make sure we are working with our state lawmakers to pass legislation that allows our judges to enhance sentencing for the chronic repeat property-crime offenders. We must keep our community safe.
What differences separate you from your opponent? I bring experience as a small business owner for 5 years and experience working for the Washington state House of Representatives for six years. I have a mindset of growing our way out of the problems we face through economic solutions and growing our economy. My opponent, while on the Spokane City Council, has promoted job-killing and big-government policies and making it harder for people to find work.
Family/How long living in the area: Married to husband Steve, grown children. I grew up in Spokane and attended Logan, Glover and Shadle schools. I worked in my family’s Taco Time restaurants and picked berries in Spokane Valley to earn extra money in the summer. Graduated from Gonzaga University with a master’s degree in business administration. Raised my children in the Mead School District and currently live on Five Mile Prairie in the city of Spokane, serving the Northwest District as a city councilwoman elected in 2013.
Why did you want to file for candidacy? I filed for this seat when former Commissioner Todd Mielke vacated the position in early 2016. Since the 1990s I have worked on behalf of neighborhoods to improve roads, schools, parks and other infrastructure to keep pace with development and encourage business and housing growth where we have already invested precious tax dollars. As past president of the Spokane Planning Commission we routinely met with Valley and county planning commissioners to work together on plans to build the new city of the Valley in an affordable way. I hope to bring those talks back and work on more planning and collaboration of growth goals. This will reduce costs, lawsuits and help with planning for future schools to ease future overcrowding and expense.
What are your goals for the board over the next four years? My goals include working with the sheriff, our state lawmakers and our cities to bring down property crime and car thefts. Thefts are occurring all over the county and it’s going to take a coordinated effort at the local and state level to put these repeat offenders out of business. I’m pleased to have the endorsement of our county’s Sheriff Deputies Association and the mayors of Millwood, Cheney, and Airway Heights and we’ve already started meeting on this issue. I’ve also met with the Spokane City Council who has placed this as a top priority on their legislative agenda. In the short term we can implement the risk-assessment program to keep high-risk suspects from re-offending before their case is adjudicated through lower cost home monitoring or other supervision.
Other goals include reducing jail costs and overcrowding by seeking grants for a voluntary mental health 16-bed diversionary unit. Much of the operating costs could be subsidized by a Federal program. Another money-saving goal is to reactivate joint planning between cities, schools and the county to do a better job of coordinating growth plans and reducing expansion expenses. Large apartment complexes in traditional single family areas are adding to school overcrowding, forcing districts to make rapid changes and seek more money for new schools.
What, in your mind, is the biggest issue facing Spokane County in the immediate future? The budget. From speaking with current and past county administrators, expenses are outpacing revenue and big changes are needed. Law enforcement and Justice costs make up the majority of the budget. I will work to accelerate the Blueprint for Reform changes discussed earlier, which are expected to have long term cost savings. We also need to plan well beyond one year at a time to forecast revenues and expenses for new infrastructure and maintenance of our roads and bridges. As a former financial planner and a small business owner I look forward to working on short and long-term budget planning.
What surprising issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops? Windstorm debris that still needs to be removed! Everywhere I go I can still see the remains, tree stumps, damaged garages roofs and fences. Folks ask how they can be helped to clean it up, whether it’s in the public right of way or on their property. Emergency management and assistance is a regional, local and neighborhood issue. We need to help prepare our community and help them recover from these unplanned events.
What differences separate you from your opponent? Management, executive, governmental, small-business and nonprofit experience. My endorsements are not just from one political party, but from a broad-based list of community and business supporters. I’ve been endorsed by the Spokane Valley Firefighters Association (IAFF 876), Deputy Sheriffs Association, the Spokesman-Review, the Spokane Education Association and many other businesses and individuals.