Candidate withdrawals reshape school board election

By Cameron Rasmusson

Reader Staff

Two candidates have withdrawn in the race for new Lake Pend Oreille School Board trustees, leaving an even distribution of two candidates per district.

Both Zone 3 candidate Brad Bluemer and Zone 5 candidate Mose Dunkel announced they removed their names from consideration. That leaves Gary Suppiger and Richard Miller vying for the Zone 2 seat, Victoria Zeischegg and Lonnie Williams competing for the Zone 3 seat and Anita Perry and Cary Kelly contending for the Zone 5 seat.

According to Bluemer, he decided to withdraw once it was clear that there was sufficient interest in the school board position. He said his intention wasn’t to mire himself in a heated election campaign but instead to ensure there was at least one person in the district willing to do the job. When two others filed their names for consideration alongside him, he decided a lack of interest wasn’t a problem.

“I want to make sure the school board is full of concerned and caring people, and that was my only objective,” he said.

Dunkel withdrew after meeting with Kelly and realizing their ideas for the school board were largely aligned. Rather than split the vote over two very similar visions for the future of Lake Pend Oreille School District, Dunkel decided to advocate for Kelly’s candidacy. He said Kelly has the time and experience as a former Bonner County commissioner to serve the district well. In the meantime, Dunkel plans to encourage stronger commitment to activities funding, facilities needs, improved communication between the district and voters. He is also weighing the possibility of calling for a permanent supplemental levy, removing the need for regular information campaigns and votes.

“Most importantly, [I want] to try to make the district be seen in a different light by opening new paths of communication,” Dunkel said. “I see Cary as an asset to the district, and I believe he has the willingness to help things progress to being a leader in education, not just in Idaho but the country.”

With candidates set for the race, residents are already speculating on social media that the school board race will take on a similar tone to the recent supplemental levy referendum, with one side seeking gradual improvements to existing district policies and the other looking for significant shifts in a more conservative direction.

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