By Cameron Rasmusson
Lake Pend Oreille School District board candidates Cary Kelly, Lonnie Williams and Gary Suppiger triumphed Tuesday in a race that separated into two de facto teams early on.
Running in the school district’s Zone 2, Suppiger beat Richard Miller 368 to 292 votes. Williams beat Victoria Zeischegg 563 to 168 votes in Zone 3. And in Zone 5, Kelly beat Anita Perry 765 to 114 votes.
At forums and in news articles, Suppiger, Kelly and Williams defined themselves as candidates who largely supported the school district’s recent accomplishments and sought to build upon them. They repeatedly called attention to their opponents’ lack of support for the $17 million supplemental levy in March.
Miller, Zeischegg and Perry, in turn, said they recognized the need to support the school district through supplemental levies. They said they did not support the recent levy because of the increase from the $15.8 million supplemental levy passed in 2015. They also ran campaigns calling for more transparency within the school district.
According to the Bonner County Elections Office, the school board election was a relatively low-turnout affair. Out of 21,257 registered voters in the affected voting precincts, only around 15 percent went to the polls or submitted an absentee ballot.
Given the low numbers, it shaped up to be a comparatively early night completing the vote count. And according to Bonner County Clerk Michael Rosedale, it was, with the office wrapping up its work at around 11:30 p.m., hours earlier than past elections. However, a large number of write-in votes, particularly in the Pend Oreille Hospital District election, slowed work significantly. The problem was that despite there being no eligible write-in candidates for the race, hundreds of write-in votes nevertheless poured in.
“It went longer than expected, but it was by far the earliest night we’ve had,” Rosedale said.
The night also marked some new procedures for the Elections Office, including the ability to post absentee ballot results almost immediately after the polls close. According to Rosedale, it’s useful information that oftentimes predicts the election outcome.
“We plan to do that from here on out and have absentees ready right on the clock,” he said.