Spokane Valley-area residents didn’t get the chance to weigh in on the District 3 Board of County Commissioners race.
The fact that the August primary was restricted only to incumbent Al French’s home district should buoy his spirits as the rest of Spokane County will be able to cast their ballots in the November general election.
French was outvoted in the primary with 58 percent of the ballots cast for Democratic challenger Robbi Katherine Anthony. But the GOP-leaning Valley may be all French needs to close the gap.
Family? How long living in the area? Married, no kids (yet). I’ve lived a collective 14 years in Spokane County.
Why did you want to file for candidacy? I filed to bring a check-and-balance to the Board of Commissioners. When any party, Democratic or Republican, has unilateral control it can be susceptible to group think which can result in short-sighted decision making. Beyond that, I’m looking to bring in a new fresh perspective to our county government to help us succeed and grow in the forthcoming years.
What are your goals for the board over the next four years? My four year plan is to ultimately balance the county budget and make it sustainable, expedite and enhance improving our roads, and attempt to usher in fiber-optic internet for the county that can be utilized by our citizens, businesses, and even first responders. It’s a simple platform as I know there will be a number of issues that come up during the four years that’ll need to be addressed, so I’m trying to keep the items I wish to change tight and focused. Those three aforementioned issues will take a lot to accomplish fully, and I’d imagine it’d take close to the entirety of the four years to pull it off.
What, in your mind, is the biggest issue facing Spokane County in the immediate future? Our budget. All roads (literally and metaphorically) lead to the budget. We need to make sure we aren’t incurring debt or deprecating our services as we grow as a county. We have a significant opportunity in front of us for growth, but if we are unable to meet the budgetary needs that accompany that growth we will squander the opportunity.
What surprising issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops? Internet. People in the county are getting lackluster service, and in this day-in-age internet is becoming increasingly a necessity for work, healthcare and education. I’ve been working with a number of experts on a plan to bring fiber-optic internet to the county and the people we’ve spoken to on the campaign trail are incredibly enthusiastic about this proposition.
What differences separate you from your opponent? I am not someone who is looking to extend, nor launch a political career. I’m just looking to do right by the people of Spokane County without significant regard to my own political future. Additionally, my campaign has taken $0 from any organization (PACs, unions, corporations, etc.). Admittedly, I am not spending much time focusing on my opponent, as my candidacy is not about being an alternative to my incumbent rather it is about a hopeful future for Spokane County if we are able to seize on the opportunities in front of us.
Family: Rosalie French, wife; Kristina Christensen, daughter; Colton Christensen, grandson.
Graduated from the University of Idaho in 1977 with B.A. in architecture and a minor in business finance.
Moved to Spokane in 1977 and have no plans to leave.
Have founded several businesses in Spokane and have brought or created thousands of jobs for the community.
Why did you file for office again? This community has been very good for me and my family and I made a decision in the mid-1990s that it was time for me to give back. I served as the leader for my neighborhood council for several years and then ran for the City Council where I served for two terms, being term limited off in 2009. I then ran for county commissioner in 2010 unseating the current commissioner. I am now completing my second term in office.
It has been a privilege and honor to serve the community and I feel that there are many more things that I want to do before I end my political endeavors and return to private life. During my time in office I have lead many initiatives for the community that has made us a better place to live and raise our families or retire in. I want to continue my efforts to bring more and better jobs to the community, reform the criminal justice system and put the county on solid financial ground without requiring new taxes.
What are your goals for the board over the next four years? My goals for the next four years are to insure that we have a public safety program that can keep you, your family and our community safe. I currently chairman the Spokane Regional Law and Justice Council working with my fellow elected and appointed officials to reform the criminal justice system. We need to provide equal justice quicker and have programs in place to divert individuals that need help or treatment not incarceration. Those that would do you or your family harm need to be in jail.
I want to continue my efforts to make Spokane a destination community for new business startups or expansion. The West Plains has seen more growth in the last 7 years than in the previous 4 decades. I am proud of the programs and policies that I have championed to make that growth possible. I am also proud of the work I did to recruit Amazon to Spokane, the largest single site employer since Kaiser 60 plus years ago.
Finally I want to continue my efforts to streamline county government and to be able to financially live within its means. There are many programs that I have introduced that have led to efficiencies and cost reductions. We have also eliminated programs that no longer serve a purpose.
What, in your mind, is the biggest issue facing Spokane County in the immediate future? The biggest issue facing Spokane County in the coming years is the cost and effectiveness of the criminal justice system and ensuring that the system is positioned to keep you and your family safe. We have a jail that is over 30 years old, antiquated and expensive to operate. We have systems in place that no longer meet the needs of the community and I want to be part of the solution and have been supported by my peers to lead this effort.
What surprising issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops? The issue I am confronted with the most is the Legislature mandating that Spokane County move to a five-commissioner structure and ignoring the will of the voters in 2015 that said they were happy with three. I feel that this legislative act violates the Washington state Constitution and am eager to have the Washington state Supreme Court rule on this. Going to five commissioners will increase the cost of government by $525,000 in the first year and escalate every year thereafter. It will cost $500,000 to implement. It mandates that you will only be able to vote for a single commissioner in the primary and general where now you can vote for all three. The voter will never be able to vote the commissioner that can increase their taxes, deal with land use issues and most of all keep them and their family safe. The voter's power has been reduced by 80 percent.
What differences separate you from your opponent? I currently sit on 40 boards, commissions and committees a third of them my peers have elected me to lead. I do this not because the job requires it but because it makes me a better commissioner and informed to advance the interest of the citizens of Spokane County. I have served eight years on the Spokane City Council and am now completing my eighth year at the county and have acquired a great deal of knowledge and built relationships locally, at the state and national level that allow me to better serve this community. I am the only elected official in the State to receive the single national "Outstanding Board Member of the Year Award" in 2008 from the American Public Transportation Association. My civic activities date back to the eighties in service to this community.
Many candidates claim that if you elect them they will be able to do things that they have never done before in their lives. I come to you with a track record of success and a willingness to continue my service to you.
Website: My website is alfrench.com.