Democrat declares county commissioner candidacy

John-Mark Mahnkey will challenge incumbent Republican Michael Largent in November


Courtesy of John-Mark Mahnkey

Mahnkey will challenge Republican incumbent Michael Largent for the seat.

IAN SMAY, Evergreen news editor

John-Mark Mahnkey announced his candidacy for Whitman County Commissioner – District 3 on Tuesday.

Mahnkey, a board member for the Whitman County Humane Society, is running as a Democrat with the support of the Whitman County Democrats, but said he calls himself a moderate.

“Moderate to me is a term that doesn’t matter whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican,” he said. “A moderate on both sides is exactly that, a moderate, right in the middle of the party view.”

Mahnkey wants to use bi-partisanship while if office if elected.

“I have decided to run for Whitman County Commissioner because common-sense needs to make a comeback in the form of bi-partisanship,” he wrote. “One way to begin is with an open, honest exchange of ideas, and working together for the best interest of all county residents.”

If he wins his the election against incumbent Republican Michael Largent, Mahnkey said he will focus on finding suitable replacements for county positions, many of which he said are currently filled with people nearing retirement.

“One of the concerns I have is…being able to attract people who are qualified to replace those people that have been there a long time, know what they are doing, and attract applicants on par with the surrounding counties,” he said.

In addition to replacing retiring officials, he also thinks departments within the county government need to be held more accountable, citing issues with the last election and the assessor’s office having to close due to staff illness and training days.

“There also needs to be a little more accountability in the individual departments,” Mahnkey said. “As a whole Whitman County runs fairly well, but we hear time and time again, for example, the Assessor’s Office having to close because one or two people are sick, that shouldn’t happen.”

Another issue he plans on tackling if he wins office is transparency on the county level by making statistics more accessible.

“I would like to see more transparency,” he said. “The facts and figures are there, but they’re very hard to get. It would be nice to have them available to everyone online, as far as where’s the money coming from, where the money’s going.”

Mahnkey is a fifth-generation resident of Whitman County, and has previously worked for various media outlets, including KHQ-TV in Spokane and Pullman Radio News.

Whitman County will hold their elections on Nov. 6.