Home | News | Bonner County Voters go to Polls

Bonner County Voters go to Polls

Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font

The 2002 vote offers lots of choices

As voters in Bonner County head to the polls on November 5th, they'll be deciding positions on offices from the governor of the state on down, and almost every race at the state level features a Libertarian challenger.


    At the county level, Republican Marcia Phillips squares off with Democrat Wayne Benner for the County Commissioner First District seat formerly held by Tom Suttmeier, who chose not to run this year.

    Phillips, who moved to Careywood four years ago, has 15 years experience as a property manager and owner of a business; over three years experience in municipal finance; over five years experience as a planning commissioner in municipal and urban planning and currently serves on the Bonner County Planning and Zoning Commission. She was recognized as an Outstanding Leader by the American Planning Association.

    Benner was born and raised in Bonner County and in 1975 served as the assistant County Engineer. He was a county commissioner for six years, before serving as the in-house planner and engineer for Pack River Management Company and Schweitzer Mountain Resort. Six years later he became Public Works Director, including responsibility for the utility company. He is on his third term as Sagle Fire District Commissioner and in his fifth year on the Bonner County Planning Commission.

    Running for County Commissioner, District 2, are Democratic incumbent Brian Orr, Republican Larry Allen, and Independent Linda Moore.

    Orr is a lifelong resident of the county who was first elected to the Oldtown city council in 1989. He then served as Mayor of Oldtown, where he was re-elected twice to that position. He was elected in 1998 as a county commissioner. Orr is also Chairman of the Bonner County Area Transportation Team.  He points to a reduction in solid waste fees from $90 to $75 per year; support of the Weed Department in the control of noxious weeds; increased protection to the city of Priest River through a full-time contract with the Sheriff's office; and repairs to Bonner West Park, Laclede Boat Ramp and the Garfield Bay recreation facility as examples of his success.

    Larry Allen, a Republican, served as a county commissioner from 1997 to 1999. Alan lives near Blanchard, Idaho and he and his wife own and operate Selkirk Supply Ace Hardware in Oldtown.

    "I'm running for office because I know I can make a difference," he said. Allen says he's been  involved in management for 30 years, "which has taught me how to work with people, developing the ability to direct and lead." Allen believes elected officials, "many times forget they are public servants."

    Allen's priorities are roads, wise and reasonable land use policies, and the encouragement of small business. "Appropriate, common-sense policies should be the norm," he said.

    Linda Moore is running in the Libertarian ticket for the same position. We were unable to obtain any information about this candidate.

    Incumbent Marie Scott (D), is seeking re-election to the position of Clerk of the District Court and is opposed by Kathrynn L. Feist (R), and Jacque Schremser (I).

    Scott, a long-time Clark Fork resident, has held the position since first elected in 1991. Prior to that she worked four years as a deputy clerk in the court operations. Scott has served as Secretary, Vice-President and President of the State Clerk's Association; was elected as chairman and then representative of the five northern counties on the board of directors for the Idaho Association of Counties. She has sponsored three legislative bills and given testimony before state legislative committees. Scott says one example of her ability is, "When I first took office were borrowing a million dollars  on Oct 1st to carry us through the first tax collection in January." Through team effort she says "we no longer use your tax dollars to pay interest on borrowed money…"

    Kathrynn Feist is a long-term resident of Bonner County who has over 20 years experience in administration, business consulting, marketing and public relations. In addition, she says, "my work as a full-charge bookkeeper for an international manufacturing firm has given me an insightful understanding of budget issues." Feist currently works in the commissioner's office. She says, if elected, she would work to establish a 20% budget reserve and that current procedures are "time consuming and redundant."

    Jacque Schremser, running as an Independent, holds an MBA from California's Pepperdine University and has over 25 years experience in business. She served as the chairwoman of Bonner County's Jail Advisory Committee in 1995.

    Schremser, who ran for the Clerk's position in 1998, said then that "The county's broken and I know I can fix it." Her focus was on the county budget because "it directly impacts me and everyone else," and she explained that living on a fixed income does not allow much leeway for increases in taxes and assessed values of property.

    Schremser has said "I want to treat (tax dollars) like it's my own money, and get the most I can for it. I have a responsibility to manage the taxpayer's money in the best darn way possible."

    Cheryl Piehl (R), is running for the position of county treasurer. "The position of treasurer is a 'working position' which requires technical experience, energy and teamwork," she said. "I have the qualifications to manage the office responsibly and in a fiscally sound manner."

    Piehl is a graduate of Sandpoint High School and is a member of the Idaho Association of Counties, Idaho Association of County Treasurers and is Treasurer of Association of Bonner County Employees. She says her goals are "to save taxpayers money by informing them of important deadlines and exemptions; to put our tax dollars back into the local economy; to preserve and improve public trust in the tax collection process; to continue to work with the State Tax Commission to enhance computer software."

    Piehl is currently serving as Bonner County's Treasurer, and spent 12 years as Deputy Treasurer. Former treasurer Shannon Syth said, "Cheryl is by far the most experienced and trained candidate for this job."

    Opposing her is Howard Faux, (D). Faux has over 40 years experience in banking management and has spent nine years working as a Realtor in the county. He's a graduate of the University of Idaho with a degree in business administration.  He has served for 26 years on the Board of Directors for Bonner General Hospital and has been a Westside Fire District commissioner for 16 years. He's a 30 year member of Kiwanis, a 39 year member of the Elks, and has been involved with Sandpoint Youth Baseball for eight years. Faux is campaigning on the question of choice - he says there has been only one contested race for treasurer in the last 40 years. He says he can provide a fresh viewpoint "from a side other than on-the-job training" which would make the office "more effective."

    Tom Sykes (R), is on the ballot challenging incumbent James Boatwright (D) for the position of county assessor.

    Boatwright has served as county assessor for the past four years, and has 26 years of appraisal education and experience. He serves on several committees for the Assessor's Association which review new and existing laws which affect Idaho taxpayers. He also serves on a committee working to implement a self-insurance plan to decrease employee health care costs.

    Boatwright has been "appraisal certified, licensed and designated by State, Federal and Professional Appraisal organizations." He says his accomplishments include: "improved service to the elderly (and) the opening of a DMV office in Priest River this year."

    He says his goals are, "fair treatment for all Bonner County property owners; helpful, friendly and courteous service in the DMV and Assessor offices; to work in every reasonable way to find new construction and put it on the tax rolls; and to aggressively oppose any legislation which erodes the tax base of Bonner County."

    Tom Sykes, although on the ballot, has withdrawn from candidacy.

    Dale Coffelt (R), is once again unopposed on the ballot for the position of county coroner.   


    At the judicial level, Sandpoint attorney Steven C. Verby is asking to succeed Judge James Michaud as First Judicial District Court Judge. He is opposed by Coeur d'Alene attorney Jack Douglas.

    Verby is a graduate of the University of Idaho Law School who worked as a Deputy Prosecutor in Boise and Kootenai County from 1976-'78. He was a public defender in Bonner and Boundary counties in the early 80's, and was responsible for appointing magistrate judges as a member of the Magistrate Commission. He has appeared and argued before the Idaho Supreme Court and the Idaho Court of Appeals 18 times.

    Verby says he pledges to require personal responsibility and accountability; listen to all sides impartially; decide all matters fairly; and treat all who come before the court with courtesy, dignity and respect.

    Douglas, whose father's family has been in the area since 1904, is president of the First District Bar Association, and served five years as an instructor for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy.  He is a member of the Shriner's, the Masonic Lodge, the Methodist church and the NRA.

    Douglas says he plans to "preside over a firm but compassionate court," and that hearings will be held in the county in which they're filed. He says he will make it clear to all that the court cares for the rights of victims.


    In Legislative District 1, Republican senator Shawn Keough (R), is being challenged by Gary Pietsch (D).

    Keough is currently completing her third term representing Boundary and northern Bonner counties in the Senate. She serves on the Joint Finance and Appropriations committee and the Senate Transportation committee. She notes she would be third in line, if re-elected (potentially first in line depending on the outcome of two other senate races) for the Chairmanship of the Senate Transportation Committee, which she says would be "beneficial to District 1."

    Keough says she has worked to ensure a "record amount" of monies allocated for road construction projects come to northern Idaho, and has been aggressive in securing state funding for school building construction.

    "It has been a true honor to serve the people of my district," she said. "I've worked hard to move our issues forward, have made progress, and am asking for the continued honor, confidence and support of the people to re-elect me."

    Keough's challenger is area native Gary Pietsch, a third-generation Bonner County resident. Pietsch, a U of I graduate with a degree in journalism, is a retired U.S. Army Captain and has retired as owner of Selkirk Press, Inc. He is the past Democratic Central Committee Chair, past president of the Idaho Newspaper Association and has been an advocate to the Idaho Legislature for the past ten years.

    Pietsch, a Democrat, asks voters to remove the eight to one Republican majority in the legislature and to vote for change.

    "The current legislature squandered a $300 million state surplus by giving permanent tax cuts to rich contributors and corporations," he said. Pietsch believes education, Medicaid and the citizen vote for term limits are all priorities for Idaho citizens.

    "I would roll back the prior tax cuts for corporations and raise the sales tax by 1% for two years," he offers as a solution to Idaho budget problems. He also says he would support open meetings, as "too many important decisions are made behind closed doors."

    Incumbent John Campbell (R), and Dale Van Stone (D) are vying for the position of state representative, legislative district 1, seat A.

    Campbell, who was first elected to the office in 1996, says he has worked with the Senate to improve roads in the area. He worked on gaining a federal appropriation for the byway, and for improvements to Hwy. 95. He drafted a bill creating an Office of Endangered Species to address impediments on business and everyday life created by the Endangered Species Act. And he drafted House Bill 280 in response to concerns that government purchases of private land were eroding local tax bases.

    Campbell is an adamant opponent to the proposed mine in Rock Creek, saying it will threaten water quality in our lake. He says he has fought long and hard on issues that impact water quality, including the controversial U.S. Army Corps of Engineers "drawdowns."

    Van Stone, a lifelong resident of Bonner County, served six years as a Bonner County Commissioner, 16 years as Bonner Soil & Water Conservation District supervisor, five years on the board of the Panhandle Health District and was a Bonner Planning and Zoning commissioner for 14 years.

    Van Stone believes the restoration of funding to public schools is a priority, and that affordable health care is a must. He says he will work with all entities to determine solutions to the issue of field burning and will work to give a voice to Idaho in the permitting of the Rock Creek mine, which he opposes. He also believes the current tax structure is "out of balance."

    Also in Legislative District 1, George Eskridge and Sandra Lansom are vying for the representative Position B seat.

    Incumbent Eskridge, a Republican was born in Bonners Ferry and is a 1961 graduate of Sandpoint High School. After college he joined the Navy, then went to work for Anaconda in Montana.  He holds a degree in Business Administration and worked for many years in the utility industry.

    Eskridge believes strongly in the Republican platform statement that "the best government is that government which governs least and provides for people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations." He supports: "responsible state government; quality education for ALL Idaho's students; improvements to Hwy. 95; and protection of Idaho's low cost, hydro-electric power supply.

    Lansom, a Democrat, holds a BA in business administration and says she has 18 years experience in the financial arena, including "multi-million dollar budgets, investments and revenues." A north Idaho resident for 31 years, she says she understands north Idaho's needs, which include "education, jobs, citizen's initiatives and local control."

    Lansom says, "It's all about accountability," and vows to work for, "progress for north Idaho; jobs and prosperity; quality education, affordable health care; and clean air and water.


Subscribe to comments feed Comments (0 posted)

total: | displaying:

Post your comment

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • Underline
  • Quote

Please enter the code you see in the image:

  • Email to a friend Email to a friend
  • Print version Print version
  • Plain text Plain text

Author info

Landon Otis

Tagged as:

No tags for this article

Rate this article