M 2012 Idaho General Election

Kootenai County Sheriff, Kootenai County

About this race

Voters in Kootenai County will elect their first new sheriff in 13 years with the retirement of Sheriff Rocky Watson. Four candidates on the Nov. 6 ballot are vying for the job of the county’s top law enforcement officer. The sheriff serves a four-year term. The salary is $84,873, not including benefits. Jail overcrowding, retention of deputies and the department budget are top issues in the race.

Last updated: Nov. 14, 2 p.m. Election results

Ben Wolfinger (R) 39,739 72.50%
Bob Foster (I) 8,238 15%
Tom Dickson (I) 3,584 6.53%
Joe Bodman (I) 3,284 5.99%

* Race percentages are calculated with data from the Secretary of State's Office, which omits write-in votes from its calculations when there are too few to affect the outcome. The Spokane County Auditor's Office may have slightly different percentages than are reflected here because its figures include any write-in votes.

Related coverage

Huckleberries: Wolfinger defends right to miss recent gun rally

An Athol gun lover gave new Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger a razzberry for not attending that Second Amendment rally in Coeur d’Alene on Jan. 19. In a letter to the Coeur d’Alene Press, Michael Alexander said: “Where were you? Do you not support the Constitution which you were sworn to uphold?” Read more

Wolfinger Pins On Sheriff’s Badge

Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger’s first day on the job began with swearing in his staff Monday. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka) Ben Wolfinger took the oath as Kootenai County’s new top cop Monday, but he shared the spotlight with Boston Wolfinger, his 5-week-old grandson whose… Read more

Huckleberries: Breakthrough for common good – imagine that

’Tis nice that warring elected officials in the Coeur d’Alene area could come together, as in times past, to do the right thing for the common good. The tentative deal struck Thursday for the sale of Person and Bryan fields for $750,000 by the Coeur d’Alene City Council and the school board was Coeur d’Alene at its best. The cash-strapped school district will get money to help fund a new administration building. The city will be guaranteed perpetual use of two parks that it already maintains in older parts of town. Read more

Wolfinger Ready To Become Sheriff

Wednesday’s final ballot counts marked both a stark victory and a clear failure in the Kootenai County races. Residents voted overwhelmingly for Ben Wolfinger to take up the sheriff’s badge, while they also shot down the proposal for an alternative form of county government. Wolfinger… Read more

Wolfinger Leads Sheriff’s Donations

Major Ben Wolfinger has raised more money overall than his Independent opponents in a four-way race for Kootenai County sheriff, but he has less money on hand for the fall campaign than Independent Bob Foster. Wolfinger has raised $14767, including $850 in the last reporting… Read more

KCSD Gives Meth Project $40K

Major Ben Wolfinger, the Republican candidate for Kootenai County sheriff, and Idaho First Lady Lori Otter prepare for a presentation before a news conference at the Coeur d’Alene Inn Friday. Wolfinger presented the First Lady with a check for $40,000 for the Idaho Meth Project,… Read more

Huckleberries: Family ties run deep for patient sheriff’s deputy

In the “Chip Off the Old Block” department, a Bayview man owes his life to a Kootenai County sheriff’s deputy who didn’t shoot first and ask questions later. Deputy Brad Wolfinger found himself facing an armed domestic-abuse suspect when he answered a call in Bayview on Monday. Read more

Coeur d’Alene Police Endorse Foster

A little birdie in Independent Bob Foster’s campaign for Kootenai County sheriff tells Huckleberries: “The Coeur d’Alene Police Officers Association voted unanimously to endorse Bob Foster for Kootenai County Sheriff. The vote has been in the process for the past couple of weeks via the… Read more

Hutcheson Leads Sheriff Fund Raising

Both Keith Hutcheson and Ben Wolfinger have outraised Tea Party candidate John Green in the three-way GOPrimary race to replace Kootenai County Sheriff Rocky Watson. Hutcheson (who is supported by Reagan Republicans & Reasonable Republicans) had a warchest of $21,652 including donations, in-kind contributions and… Read more

Kootenai County sheriff candidates

John Green AGE: Not given Read more

Sheriff’s Candidates ‘Speed Date’

The Phantom Photographer of Huckleberries Online snapped this shot of the three Republican sheriff’s candidate during the “speed-dating” event staged by the local Tea Party at the Greyhound Park: (from left) sheriff’s Mayor Ben Wolfinger, Keith Hutcheson and John Green. Question: Why is Ben Wolfinger… Read more

Wolfinger Runs For Top KCSD Spot

After nearly three decades with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department, Ben Wolfinger said he is ready to tackle the county’s highest law enforcement position. “It’s time to step up and be a leader,” said Wolfinger, a major with the sheriff’s department who has filed to… Read more

HH: Don’t Radicalize Sheriff’s Position

Herb Huseland: Why anyone would want a hard right or hard left sheriff is beyond my comprehension. The ideal law enforcement officer is politically neutral, constitutionally correct and community oriented.An example of this in Ben Wolfinger is last year’s Athol Daze Parade. The community was… Read more

DFO: Bob Foster Wise To File As Indie

I was watching a replay of wannabe John Green’s rant from the sheriff’s candidate forum in February about the “cowards” who hide in the dark “spreading hate & dissension” online, when the thought hit me: Bob Foster was wise to file as an Independent. Foster?… Read more

Bodman Files As An Independent

Former Post Falls councilman Joe Bodman has filed to run for Kootenai County sheriff as an Independent. Bodman is a former three-term council member who lost to Betty Henderson in 2009. Bodman, a former Kootenai County deputy, unsuccessfully challenged Sheriff Rocky Watson in the 2008… Read more

Johnson: KCSD Isn’t Paramilitary

On his Facebook wall, Adam Johnson, one of five candidates for the Kootenai County GOP nod, posts: “During the Sheriffs Candidate forum last night, one of the other candidates (sheriff’s Major Ben Wolfinger) equated the sheriffs department to a paramilitary organization. A statement I wholeheartedly… Read more

Kootenai County Sheriff’s Candidates

Keith Hutcheson, former Coeur d’Alene Tribal Police chief (left), and sheriff’s Major Ben Wolfinger mull a question at the candidates forum for the Kootenai County Republican sheriff’s nomination at Coeur d’Alene Library Wednesday night. I consider these two the most qualified of five-man field. Observations:… Read more

Poll: Hutcheson Early HBO Choice

Monday Poll: Keith Hutcheson, chief of the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Police, was the clear favorite in the five-way race to succeed Kootenai County Sheriff Rocky Watson. Hutcheson attracted 189 of 320 votes (59.06%) to beat sheriff’s Major Ben Wolfinger, who was second with 97 of… Read more

Major Ben’s Felony Warrants List

A Coeur d’Alene man wanted for possible felony probation violation for a DUI is at the front of sheriff’s Major Ben Wolfinger’s class of individuals wanted on felony warrants this week. Richard Arlan Whiterock, 36, of Coeur d’Alene (upper left) is wanted for the alleged… Read more

Sheriff Candidate OK With Tents

John Green, a Kootenai County sheriff’s candidate, was present at the first meeting of United Conservatives of North Idaho, the re-invented Rally Right group, but was the only candidate to miss the sheriff’s forum sponsored by the Reagan Republicans Thursday. Jail expansion, unionization, deputy retention… Read more