Candidates backed by a group of Republican activists were defeated Tuesday night in unusually lively races for the nonpartisan Coeur d’Alene School Board and Kootenai Hospital District board.
In a shakeup on the school board, challengers knocked off incumbents Brent Regan and Ann Seddon, both of whom were backed by the conservative Kootenai County Reagan Republicans.
Christa Hazel and Dave Eubanks will join the five-member board along with Tom Hearn, who won an open seat. All three were backed by Balance North Idaho, a political action committee whose slogan is “Qualifications over ideology,” and their wins will swing control of the board away from a solidly conservative majority that took hold over the past year.
Reagan Republican-endorsed candidates also lost bids to join the Kootenai Hospital District board, one of the more inconspicuous posts on the public service landscape. Two of their candidates, however, won races for the Post Falls School Board.
These nonpartisan races usually are low-profile affairs that bring out a smattering of voters. In Tuesday’s election, almost 9,000 voters cast ballots – up from fewer than 6,800 two years ago – after months of intense campaigning and endorsements by political activists.
“I’m just feeling ecstatic because I think the voters in Coeur d’Alene have been decisive in saying it’s more than party label that’s required. You need to have qualifications and your motives need to be transparent,” said Hazel, who defeated Regan with 63 percent of the vote.
Regan, a businessman and inventor who was appointed to the board last December, offered congratulations for his opponent. “She ran a good race and won the day,” he said.
“I get my life back,” Regan added. “I said going into this it was a win-win for me: That if I won the election, we’d have to do the heavy work of trying to fix what’s wrong in the district, and if I didn’t win the race, then I’d get my life back, which is a fairly considerable commitment of time.”
Dr. Neil Nemec and Liese Razzeto won seats on the hospital board, defeating Donna Montgomery, who was endorsed by Reagan Republicans, and Jim Pierce, who was backed both by that group and the Balance PAC.
In Post Falls, Glorie Ward and Carol Goodman, both backed by the Reagan Republicans, won seats to the school board. They beat Julie Hunt and Dave Paul, who were endorsed by Balance North Idaho.