Coeur d’Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem easily won re-election Tuesday and Mike Kennedy became the only new member of the City Council, elbowing out two challengers.
With 76 percent of the vote, Bloem glided into a second term against challenger Joseph Kunka, a political newcomer and marketing representative with the local security company Watson Agency.
“I’m going to continue to do what I’ve been doing, and that is work with the community to make this a better place,” said Bloem, a downtown business owner and the city’s first female mayor.
Incumbent council members Deanna Goodlander and Woody McEvers also retained their seats.
Kennedy will replace Councilman Ben Wolfinger, who didn’t seek re-election. With nearly 49 percent of the vote and a record-breaking war chest of nearly $21,000, Kennedy beat out challengers Dan Yake and Mary Souza. Yake received 27 percent of the vote while Souza came in last with 24 percent.
“We ran a positive campaign, we worked hard and we went directly to the people and we didn’t take anything for granted,” Kennedy said about his victory. “I’m going to get to work on the growth issues and dig into learning which ordinances need to be updated.”
Kennedy, a father of five who works for the software company XDimensional Technologies, said he will represent young, working families. His top priorities are protecting children, managing the town’s skyrocketing growth and preserving access to open and public spaces such as Sanders Beach and Canfield Mountain.
Local Republicans are considering whether to challenge Kennedy’s victory, arguing he doesn’t really live in the city limits.
In days before the election, Kennedy faced a rare attack by the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, which normally doesn’t get involved in nonpartisan races, and a Souza adviser who questioned Kennedy’s residency.
Kennedy has rented a room in a Coeur d’Alene house since July while his Coeur d’Alene Place home is built. His wife and children have remained in Hayden. Kennedy plans to stay at his rented room until his house is finished sometime after January.
Souza said she had nothing to do with the residency complaint, which was orchestrated by Lee Shellman, her campaign adviser. Shellman didn’t return calls about whether he will challenge Kennedy’s win.
Souza attributes her loss to extremely low voter turnout – 21.4 percent – and the fact that Kennedy had money and partisan support.
“They were very organized and had the backing of the whole Democratic Party behind them and it worked,” she said.
Souza plans to keep her position on the planning commission and work toward what’s best for the city.
Yake, a former city employee, claimed to be the race’s only true conservative candidate whose main goal was to restrain Coeur d’Alene’s growing $66.6 million budget.
Goodlander snatched a third term with 54.7 percent of the vote against challenger Susie Snedaker, a former planning commission member.
Snedaker ran a grass-roots campaign focused around her neighborhood activism while Goodlander touted her business background and experience on the council.
Political newcomer Steven Foxx, 28, got 37.4 percent of the vote, which wasn’t enough to boot out McEvers who got 62.5 percent of the vote to win a second term.