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Kootenai primary has big GOP field

Six Republicans will face off for two Kootenai County commission positions in the May 25 primary. The races are winner-takes-all because no candidates from other parties filed by Friday’s deadline.

In addition, three Republicans will compete to become the next coroner, following the retirement of Dr. Robert West, who has held the position for 26 years.

Whoever wins that race will face Chief Deputy Coroner Jody DeLuca Hissong, a Democrat and nurse who has worked with the coroner for 28 years. DeLuca Hissong is uncontested in the Democratic primary.

In the Commissioner District 2 race for a four-year term, incumbent Elmer “Rick” Currie, chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, faces challenges from Chris Fillios, a Realtor, appraiser and former high-tech business executive, and Jai Nelson, an interior design business owner who challenged Currie in 2008.

Currie is seeking his fourth term.

In the Commissioner District 3 race, a two-year term, incumbent Rich Piazza is facing challenges from Dan Green, who is retired from 30 years in the lumber industry and serves as chairman of the county’s planning and zoning commission, and Kevin Ratigan, who owns one business that builds custom homes and another that publishes children’s books. This is Piazza’s first run for re-election since ousting former Commissioner Katie Brodie in the May 2006 primary.

Commissioners earn $71,080 per year.

The Republican primary for coroner is a three-way race that includes a deputy coroner, a former police chief and a surgeon.

Debbie Wilkey has served as deputy coroner for six years and is a registered nurse and former law enforcement officer.

Douglas Stafford is a board-certified specialist in vascular surgery. Stafford has owned his own practice for 10 years and has a background in general medicine and trauma.

Tom Cronin has served as police chief for the city of Coeur d’Alene and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and ran unsuccessfully for commissioner in 2008. Cronin’s 41 years in law enforcement include extensive experience in death investigations.

Kootenai County does not perform autopsies, contracting for that service with Spokane County. The coroner’s position pays $61,535.

Assessor Mike McDowell and Treasurer Tom Malzahn are running uncontested in the primary, as is county Clerk Dan English. English, a Democrat, faces longtime Post Falls police Chief Cliff Hayes, who retired in July and is running in the general election for clerk as a Republican.

The assessor, treasurer and clerk positions pay $68,958.

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