Incumbent, newcomer compete for county commissioner seat

Largent hopes for another term, Mahnkey aims for different approach with no political background

ISAAC SEMMLER, Evergreen reporter

Two candidates are running for the position of Whitman County commissioner in the November elections.

Democratic incumbent Michael Largent said he feels he’s earned another term.

“I grew up on a farm here, I worked several jobs in Pullman, I have always been involved with my community and I also attended WSU,” he said. “I have been your county commissioner the last 12 years and I feel I can continue to work towards positive change in this county.”

With Largent hoping for another term, he said he still feels there is a lot of work left to do.

“My main focus will continue to be to authorize funding,” Largent said. “We have to continue to prioritize what is most important for this county. That may mean some tough decisions ahead, but we will work hard to get what is in Whitman County’s best interest.”

He said communicating with the legislature as well as the state for adequate funding is key, and he feels he has done a good job with that but more can be done.

Largent said he wants to see the budget extended and an increased emergency reserve fund.

“Throughout the time I’ve worked as county commissioner, I feel we have been very wise with where we put our money and I will continue to do that,” Largent said.

Largent’s challenger, Democrat John-Mark Mahnkey, said he has a different approach for this position. He doesn’t have any political background, but said he feels he is a good fit.

“This position would be a first for me, but I’m not a stranger to the Palouse,” he said. “I’ve grown up in this area my whole life, I have an overall love for Whitman County and I know I’m a great fit for this job. It’s not my intent to be rude, but this position has been treated as a part-time job more than a full-time job.”

Mahnkey said he feels that helping constituents understand what is happening in local government is a vital issue he wants to tackle.

“I want communication to flow in this area,” he said. “Sharing info is very crucial for this county. I ask around and no one really knows what changes are happening. I want to hold people accountable for their actions.”

Mahnkey also thinks the county needs to advocate for adequate funding and make better financial decisions.

“I respect [Largent] on a personal level and I want to be clear I’m not attacking him in any way, but I feel we can be doing more for this county,” Mahnkey said.

Both Largent and Mahnkey said they are open to communication from the public. Contact information is available on the candidates’ Facebook pages.