Dr. Frank Velazquez

SPOKANE, Wash. - Dr. Francisco Velázquez is the new Spokane County Health Officer. 

The vote was a unanimous 'yes' from the Spokane Regional Health Board. 

Dr. Francisco Velázquez served as Interim Health Officer for 11 months after Dr. Bob Lutz was terminated. 

The Spokane Regional Health Board voted to terminate Lutz on November 5, 2020. The vote was done in response to a public outcry after he was unexpectedly fired by SRHD administrator Amelia Clark, leaving Spokane without a health officer. Clark citing "performance issues" for the firing. 

The Washington State Board of Health is investigating the termination of Lutz. 

According to a preliminary report, it finds Clark violated the law with Lutz's removal. If Clark is found guilty, she may be removed from her position. She could also be directed to hire Lutz back.

Since the firing of Dr. Bob Lutz, a new Washington state bill has changed the makeup of local health district boards, including the board who voted to fire Lutz. 

The bill requires half of health board members to be non-elected officials. 

Spokane Rep. Marcus Riccelli (D) sponsored the bill which passed the state House and Senate and was signed by Governor Jay Inslee. 

"This bill, which my office requested, takes the politics out of public health," Gov. Inslee said on May 10 while signing the bill. "I am proud of the changes and investments we have made to the healthcare system."

Since his termination, Dr. Bob Lutz accepted a role with the Washington State Department Of Health's COVID-19 response team.