We believe strongly in informing the community about candidates running for public office. As part of our commitment to this effort, we present this questionnaire for candidates running for office. In this week’s edition, we focus on local candidates. Next week we will publish candidate information for state and national races. SandpointOnline.com is also a great resource for election information, as well as the Bonner County Elections Page. Finally, don’t forget to vote Tuesday, Nov. 3 if you haven’t voted by mail already. Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
——Bonner County Commissioner District 1——
Steve Johnson, Democrat
Age: I have loved our home here in Bonner County for 62 years.
Birthplace and residence: Marguerite and I raised our four children on our family farm in Sagle and plan to live here on the farm for many years to come. We have enjoyed immensely all the 4-H activities, building our own log home, keeping our 80 acres of woods and fields in good shape and our combined 60+ years of being educators here in Bonner County. Some of our proudest moments are seeing our students lead productive, happy and successful lives. I was very proud to be on the East Bonner County Library Board of Trustees when the new libraries were built in Sandpoint and Clark Fork.
Education: I received my bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Idaho in 1972. I earned my master’s and specialist degrees in administration in 1982 and 1986 from the University of Idaho.
Fun fact: I attended Southside Elementary School in Cocolalla from 1957 to 1964 and it was then I decided I wanted to be an educator. Years later my dream was fulfilled when I was able to return to Southside as a teacher and the principal.
1. What Bonner County issues are most important to you? How would you improve the county, given the opportunity as county commissioner?
The most important issues to me are:
1) Return unity and cooperation to our Bonner County community. All individuals and groups deserve respect. No more divisive frivolous taxpayer funded lawsuits.
2) Respect and follow the medical advice of Panhandle Health District and our local health care professionals.
3) Maintain the rural character of Bonner County. Encourage and provide for public input in every decision on land use. No industry in rural or residential areas.
4) Respect and support our well-trained and accountable law enforcement. They can handle whatever problems come up. There is no need to request assistance from any other group.
5) Support our local established businesses and recruit new businesses. The need for high-quality education is a major factor in the economy and well-being of our Bonner County community.
2. The board is currently facing criticism for pursuing a lawsuit against the city of Sandpoint regarding The Festival at Sandpoint’s weapons policy, a suit which the judge deemed they had no standing to bring forth and which also cost taxpayers in the county and city more than $200K. What is your opinion of this ongoing issue?
The lawsuit that has cost Bonner County taxpayers over $200,000 should never have been filed. If the two commissioners who voted for it felt that strongly they should’ve filed it as individuals using their own money, not taxpayer money.
3. There are growing tensions between the county’s planning department/planning and zoning commission and the general public, especially regarding a few specific projects (i.e. the Sagle asphalt plant, the Selle Valley SpaceX site). Why do you think things have become so contentious? What would you do, as a county commissioner, to help sooth these tensions?
Every land use decision must include a great deal of public input. We live here because we love it here and any changes must be approved by the general public. No industry in rural or residential areas.
4. What sets you apart from your opponent? What is your vision for Bonner County growth?
My vision for the future of BonnerCounty includes sharing our little piece of paradise with others who are looking for a community that respects everyone, maintains a rural character and provides a clean environment and a thriving economy. My vision includes high quality education, well-maintained county roads, industry in designated areas only and an attitude that reflects and supports one of my favorite sayings, “We are all in this together.”
Steven Bradshaw, Republican (incumbent)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
Publisher’s note: Incumbent Steven Bradshaw was sent questions by the Sandpoint Reader, but responded that he is declining to participate in this candidate questionnaire.
——Bonner County Commissioner District 2——
Jeff Connolly, Republican (incumbent, running unopposed)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
Publisher’s note: Incumbent Jeff Connolly, who is running unopposed, was asked to provide a short statement and biographical info, but did not respond with the info at press time.
——Bonner County Prosecutor——
Louis Marshall, Republican (incumbent, running unopposed)
Birthplace and residence: Buffalo, NY / Dover, ID
How many years lived in Bonner County?: 19
Government service: Bonner County Prosecuting Attorneys Office 2002- present. City of Ponderay Attorney 2005-present.
Profession: Prosecuting Attorney.
Education: Hobart College BA, University of Idaho Law School JD.
Family: Wife Angela, three children: Nick, Lauren, Liz. Two grandchildren: Charlotte, Ted.
Fun fact: Learned how to be a trial attorney from TV show, Matlock.
The issue that means the most to me is the children of our community. I have dedicated my career to helping child victims and punishing offenders. It is a very difficult road for many, many reasons.
The justice system is far from perfect and makes holding offenders accountable sometimes impossible.It takes a heavy toll on the police officers, detectives, prosecutors and victim advocates helping these kids. Fortunately we have opened the LillyBrooke Family Justice Center and have utilized Ken, the Courthouse Facility Dog. These were true gamechangers.
Our partnership with Kaniksu Health continues to grow and through these strides it is my hope we will help many more children in the future and prepare better cases against offenders.
I want people to understand the direct correlation between the abuse of narcotics and child abuse. Drugs are not a victimless crime when children are being abused and neglected.
Finally I want to say how proud I am to have served this wonderful community for so long. I have a great job!
——Bonner County Sheriff——
Daryl Wheeler, Republican (incumbent)
How many years lived in Bonner County?:
Government service: Continuous since 1981.
Profession: Elected Bonner County Sheriff, three terms.
Education: Law Enforcement (Basic, Intermediate, Advanced, Supervisor, Management and Executive P.O.S.T. Certificates)
Family: Married 40 years. Four children, six grandchildren.
Fun fact: I like to sing. Some people call me the singing sheriff!
1. Many in the community are concerned about the price tag for the lawsuit against the city of Sandpoint, which the judge ultimately ruled the county had no standing to bring to the court. What would you say to those with monetary concerns?
There would have been no suit if the City of Sandpoint would have followed the law.
1a. Do you plan to continue pursuing the issue in the judicial system?
2. Also regarding the lawsuit against the city — in your declarations in the case, you repeatedly asserted that an armed protest was “imminent” should the judge fail to rule on the issue. Judge Haynes did not seem convinced of this argument. What was your reaction to his ruling?
I don’t count it a loss for me. The judge addressed my question about my ministerial duties in managing the jail. Judge Haynes did rule that I have a full range of discretion. I will use my discretion. I count that as a win!
3. You have described yourself as a “constitutional sheriff.” What does that mean and what does that mean for the functioning of your department?
The bylaws of our nation are contained in Constitution of the United States. I follow those bylaws.
4. What role, if any, do armed private citizens play as a useful law-keeping force?
Most people understand that the Second Amendment to the Constitution recognizes the God-given right of every individual to protect themselves. Below is a sample of what the Founders had to say about an armed citizenry:
“To disarm the people…[i]s the most effectual way to enslave them.”
– Father of the Bill of Rights George Mason, referencing advice given to the British Parliament by Pennsylvania Governor Sir William Keith, The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, June 14, 1788.
“The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”
– Chief Justice Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 1833.
“For it is a truth, which the experience of ages has attested, that the people are always most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the least suspicion.”
– Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 25, Dec. 21, 1787.
5. In more than a decade as Bonner County Sheriff, what have you learned about your constituents and community?
I am blessed to work with such highly dedicated and professional first responders and live in such a beautiful county with people who love and support law enforcement.
Cindy Marx, Democrat (write-in)
Birthplace and residence: Born in New Kensington PA Resident of Bonner County since 1990.
How many years lived in Bonner County?: 30
Government service: West Side Fire Commissioner Former volunteer EMT, Emergency Planning Committee member and chair and Search and Rescue.
Profession: Executive Director nonprofit.
Education: Bachelor of Science Sports Fitness & Leiseure Studies with minors in biology and business from Salem State Uiversity Salem MA.
Family: Husband, cat and two dogs.
Fun fact: I like mountain biking and kayaking.
1. Why are you running for sheriff?
To restore trust and faith in the office.
1a. What would you say to those concerned you don’t have enough/the right experience to hold the position?
The office is an admistrative position. The highly trained members of the departments overseen by the office will continue thieir work with better opportunities for training and the tools they need to do the job. My experience in human resources, budgeting and business management will help make the business side of the office more efficient.
2. What role do you see the sheriff’s office playing in local politics?
The sheriff works for the people of Bonner County. The office should not be playing in local politics or state politics.
3. As sheriff, how would you improve Bonner County? Name your top three issues.
• Provide training for all department personnel, integrating local mental health providers where and when possible.
• Provide needed equipment rather than tell the media what the department lacks.
• Figure out why we have such long lines in licensing and get the personnel or tools to solve the problem.
4. What role, if any, do armed private citizens play as a useful law-keeping force?
The second amendment states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” To me well regulated would mean that the local law enforcement agencies are familiar with the individuals and have faith in the ability of these citizens to assist rather than escalating dangerous situations. Without training with the local agencies and some article of clothing or other means of identification I don’t know how they expect to be distinguised from the “bad guys” if something goes wrong and law enforcement has to step in.
5. How do you envision your relationship with your constituents if elected?
I would want every citizen to feel that the departments overseen by the office of sheriff are there to serve them. I would also want the citizens to understand that the personnel of the departments have a lot of training to do a diverse number of things but we can’t expect them to know how to do everything. Every time a deputy goes on a call they put their life at risk. The citizens need to understand that too.
5a. How would you make yourself available to them?
I would have regular office hours where people could call or come to the office to talk and would be happy to come out to events to answer questions or talk about neighborhood issues that the department might be able to help with.
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