Sandpoint, Ponderay elect new council members

By Cameron Rasmusson
Reader Staff

Local elections wrapped Tuesday night with wins for Sandpoint City Council candidates Shannon Williamson, Joel Aispuro and John Darling.

By the time the ballots were counted Tuesday night, Williamson, Aispuro and Darling received the most support out in field of six candidates. The victory qualifies them for the three open seats currently held by Stephen Snedden, Bob Camp and Williamson, an incumbent and council president. In total, Aispuro received 649 votes, Jeff Bohnhof received 484 votes, Darling received 578 votes, Mose Dunkel received 123 votes, Robert Jediny received 123 votes and Williamson received 735 votes.

During the campaign, Williamson cited the work accomplished in her first term as her most significant qualification for office. She said that while there is always room for improvement, the city has served voters well over the past four years on everything from fiber optic installations to maintenance and infrastructure projects to downtown street work.

“Thank you to everyone who had the confidence in me to continue serving the City of Sandpoint as a Council Member!” Williamson wrote on her Facebook page. “I truly appreciate your support and I look forward to working with the rest of the Council on behalf of the citizens of Sandpoint.”

Aispuro, a well-known face in town thanks to his work at the popular Joel’s Mexican Restaurant, believes the city should focus on four major priorities: water, sewer, roads and emergency service. He sees the city’s primary role as offering exemplary city services.

“I first want to thank the wonderful people of Sandpoint for their trust in me,” he wrote in an email. “It is truly a humbling experience to be able to serve the community in this capacity! I look forward to the future!”

“I will continue to be involved and learn as much as I can,” he added.

Darling campaigned in part on his experience as a Ponderay City Council member, which he said helped introduce him to public service. He cited improved streets and infrastructure, high-speed internet and affordable water as priorities for the city.

“I am honored to be voted into office for Sandpoint City Council by the residents of Sandpoint,” he wrote in an email. “I hope to be a voice of the people to our local government and am committed to being a honest and fair representative for our community.”

On his intended preparations before being sworn in next year, he added, “I have signed up for some refresher training with the Association for Idaho Cities, and will continue to familiarize myself with the current affairs.”

In Ponderay, voters elected Phil McNearney and Kathleen Osborne to serve in two open seats on the City Council. In total, Jacque Guinan received 17 votes, McNearney received 42 votes, Osborne received 50 votes and Nancy Piatt received 21 votes.

Ponderay voters also passed a local option tax with a total of 55 votes in favor and 22 votes against. The 7-percent occupancy tax on hotel and motel stay will run for eight years and is anticipated to collect $235,000 annually. The city will spend that money first on city infrastructure, capital projects and public transportation. The next priority is street overlays; sidewalk repair, extension and replacement; additional bike paths and parks and recreation. Finally, the remainder will fund public safety services, a property tax relief fund and the administrative cost of collecting and administering the tax.

Dover candidates William Strand and Kristy Evans didn’t face any competition for the City Council’s two open seats, but voters gave them a nod of support with Strand receiving 38 votes and Evans receiving 25 votes.

The same uncontested scenario for two open council seats played out in Oldtown, where Bobby Jones received five votes and Anna Burns received four votes.

Russell Schenck ran uncontested for a four-year term as mayor of Clark Fork, winning 25 votes. Likewise, Sheri Jones and Blaine Williams ran unopposed for two open council seats, receiving 21 votes and two votes respectively.

In Hope, yet another uncontested race played out with Carolyn Guldberg and Robert Lizotte winning two open council seats with 16 votes apiece.

The trend of uncontested races in Bonner County continued with Lonna Bernard and Thomas Grimm taking two open East Hope council seats with 28 and 27 votes respectively. They will serve four-year terms. Meanwhile, Ian Barrett will serve a two-year term after winning the shorter-duration seat with 30 votes.

David Sundquist and Grace Bauer will both take open seats on the Kootenai City Council after winning unopposed seats. Sundquist received 27 votes, and Bauer received 28 votes.

James Martin will serve as Priest River’s mayor for four years after winning his uncontested election with 59 votes. The same goes for council candidates Gary Stewart, who took 49 votes, and Candy Turner, who took 26 votes.

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