Kootenai County voters will choose between Democrat Chuck Sheroke and Republican Ron Rankin for a new commissioner.
Rankin, 67, is a tax activist and author of the One Percent Initiative who claims elected officials typically work against their constituents.
Rankin points to the county’s hiring of a lobbyist to get bills passed in the Legislature, and the hiring of a former county commissioner to help restructure the government.
If elected, Rankin said he would eliminate a perceived coziness between the current all-GOP commission and some area business interests, defend property rights with common sense land-use decisions, and make sure commissioners did business in public.
Sheroke, 47, is a Democrat most known for legal battles against developers and over public access to area waterways. He’s also known for sniping at county commissioners who approved what he saw as questionable developments.
He has earned support from neighbors who fight large developments and many residents concerned about the county’s environment. He also has done significant legal work on behalf of people in need of affordable housing.
He maintains this election should focus on public schools - an issue he has experience in.
He was North Idaho’s sole public supporter in 1992 of impact fees - fees tacked on to developments to pay for roads and services - and wants to expand that to pay for schools. He said he would ask developers to voluntarily pay impact fees to help cover the cost of schools. He also would push to raise homeowners’ exemptions.
Sheroke also said he would push to have farmers who burn grass voluntarily eliminate the practice or he would push to have it banned as a criminal trespass within three years.
Former Commissioner Kent Helmer, defeated in 1994, said a victory by either man would bring needed frankness and debate to a county commission that currently lacks dissension.
“I don’t think it would be that bad to put either one of them in,” he said. “I think a little controversy in those meetings once in awhile will be good.”
, DataTimes MEMO: See individual profiles by name of candidate