By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
Bonner County government will see several new faces come January, as the May 17 primary poised three Republicans for uncontested November races for commissioner in both Districts 2 and 3, as well as for the assessor’s seat.
Out of 31,585 voters registered in Bonner County before Election Day, 14,083 cast a ballot in the May 17 election, amounting to a 44.6% turnout — bigger than four years ago during the last mid-presidential primary.
Bonner County Clerk Mike Rosedale said he wasn’t surprised by the sizable turnout.
“There were so many signs, so many campaign flyers,” he said. “It seemed like everybody was a little bit more interested in this [election], a little bit more amped up about it.”
The primary also saw several reports of alleged illegal electioneering. Rosedale told the Reader that “probably every single polling place, it appears, had people outside with signs,” handing out pamphlets, cookies and more.
“If it’s outside of 100 feet [from the polling place’s building], it’s their right to do that. If it’s inside 100 feet, it’s completely electioneering and illegal,” Rosedale said. “Every case that I was able to check out, it was outside 100 feet. … That’s not going to the fact of whether it was tasteful or not, or whether it was over the top or whether that kind of thing is even effective or not.”
That being said, Rosedale added, property owners who host polling places have the right to extend that 100-foot rule by stipulating that political signage and campaigning isn’t allowed anywhere on their property.
The election results, which were finally tallied around 2 a.m., remain preliminary until canvassed and certified. None of the county races featured Democratic candidates, so all results refer only to the Republican contests.
In the District 2 commissioner race, Asia Williams earned 48.89% to incumbent Jeff Connolly’s 40.14%, marking a change of leadership on the county’s west side. Randi Flaherty, the third candidate in the race, garnered 10.97% of the vote.
Williams said she is “grateful to have the opportunity to serve” as the commissioner for District 2, and thanked “young conservatives” Lauryn Bowlin and Jess Herman for “their efforts to help secure this election,” calling them “examples of the future of our county, our state and our country.”
“I am also thankful to Commissioner Connolly who expressed his congratulations and offer of support to ensure a smooth transition,” she continued in a statement emailed to the Reader. “My campaign was funded and supported by the people of Bonner County. Whether you walked, talked, prayed or paid, I sincerely thank you for your trust and support. I look forward to representing the residents of Bonner County as a constitutional, liberty-minded, conservative Christian District 2 commissioner.”
Connolly and Flaherty did not reply to requests for comment before press time.
In the District 3 commissioner race, a five-way contest saw Luke Omodt victorious with 34.45% of the vote and challenger Ron Korn coming in second with 27.3%. Dave Bowman earned the third most votes with 19.89%, followed by Rich Harter and Brian Riley with 14.18% and 4.18%, respectively. Current District 3 Commissioner Dan McDonald did not run for re-election, leaving the race without an incumbent.
“Thank you to the Republican primary voters who supported my campaign,” Omodt wrote in an email to the Reader. “I look forward to sitting at the table with Commissioners Bradshaw and Williams to serve the people of Bonner County.
“Let’s be civil and work together,” he added. “Hold me accountable.”
In his post-election statement to the Reader, Riley offered his congratulations to Omodt.
“He worked hard and his efforts were rewarded,” Riley said.
Candidate Dave Bowman said he expects Omodt “will respect and abide by the Will of The People as would I, and if so, he will have my full support.”
“I learned a lot during this campaign that I would never have had the opportunity to have known otherwise — some good, some not so good,” Bowman continued. “I also made new friends I would likely never have even met under different circumstances. For that I am grateful. My sincere thanks to all those who worked so hard and gave so much for my campaign; you kept it clean and respectful in a race where things got dirty. And thanks to the two opponents who didn’t resort to personal attacks — you did it right.”
Korn and Harter did not reply to requests for comment before press time.
As for the assessor’s race, Grant Dorman came out on top with 50.83% of the vote; incumbent Donna Gow came in second with 26.48%; and Jessi Webster rounded things out with 23.14% of votes.
While neither Dorman nor Webster replied to the Reader’s request for post-election comment before press time, incumbent Gow offered her congratulations to Dorman.
Preliminary results also show that the special revenue bond election in Clark Fork, meant to rehabilitate the city’s water system, passed on a 95-17 vote.
To see all Bonner County election results, head to bonnercountyid.gov/elections.
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