BOCC appoints new Fair Board member

By Soncirey Mitchell
Reader Staff

The Bonner County board of commissioners appointed resident Quentin Ducken to the Bonner County Fair Board at their Tuesday, May 7 meeting, filling a position that has been open since September 2023. Though state law requires the BOCC to appoint new Fair Board members, the manner in which Ducken was hired was a matter of significant debate.

The BOCC advertised the position in the Bonner County Daily Bee, Gem State Miner and Flathead Beacon and received four applications, including Ducken’s.

The Bonner County Fairgrounds.
Courtesy photo.

“The BOCC met in executive session and discussed each of the four candidates. A majority of the board chose Mr. Ducken based upon merit. Having attended Fair Board meetings before taking office through today it is more important than ever to have a functional Bonner County Fair Board,” Omodt told the Reader in an email May 7. 

During the meeting, Omodt said that Ducken is a long-term volunteer and participant at Fair Board meetings.

Commissioner Steve Bradshaw made a motion to appoint Ducken to the Fair Board for a four-year term ending May 6, 2028, which Commissioner Asia Williams seconded for discussion. She subsequently voiced her opposition to the appointment because the BOCC had neglected to interview any of the four applicants — including Ducken — before making their selection.

“I have never seen it where we appoint someone without [an] interview,” Williams said, later adding, “The Fair Board did not select to have a liaison for their Fair Board, but what they did ask this board to do is, as positions come open with the fair, that we work with them instead of in opposition. One of the ways that they identified was allowing them to give some input on what the fair itself needed …”

Both Omodt and Bradshaw argued that it is the duty of the BOCC, not the Fair Board, to appoint new members, with Omodt citing Idaho Code 22-202: “Any vacancy occurring on such county fair board shall be filled by appointment by the county commissioners at their first regular meeting after the occurrence of such vacancy.” 

The county has been out of compliance with this statute for approximately eight months.

Omodt then gave a brief summary of the tensions between the BOCC and the Fair Board, including how the fair hired Coeur d’Alene-based law firm Smith + Malek to represent it in litigation against the BOCC while seeking clarity on the county’s authority over the fairgrounds and its financials. He reiterated the necessity for a new board member, and his support of Ducken.

“[Ducken] has been volunteering for the fair for an awfully long time. … When I attend the meetings and he’s talking about giving more of his time to fix the pig barns, we could not do much better than this type of individual’s willingness to volunteer, serve and give time,” Omodt said.

“All of what you said about the individual can be completely true, which makes it even more important that we make sure that any introduction of a new Fair Board member is received in a collaborative, cooperative effort,” Williams responded, clarifying that she did not object to Ducken specifically, only that he was not interviewed and the Fair Board was not consulted prior to his selection.

The motion to appoint Ducken passed with Williams dissenting.

“We welcome Mr. Ducken to the Bonner County Fair Board and are grateful for his willingness to step forward and serve,” wrote Omodt.

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