A one-time consumer credit counselor and a bed-and-breakfast owner quietly are battling for the right to keep Kootenai County’s financial house in order.
Democrat Dan English, 44, is taking on Republican Lee Knowles, 68, to be the next county clerk.
English, who has served as clerk since Democrat Tom Taggart was appointed county administrator in 1995, is a former credit counselor and founder of Anchor House and North Idaho’s Youth for Christ.
Knowles owns Katie’s Wild Rose Inn after retiring from British Petroleum as an instrumentation supervisor in Alaska.
Theirs has been a low-key race with neither candidate publicly criticizing the other’s performance.
Knowles says he believes English has tried to do his best but that his own management skills and conservative ideology make him better-suited for the job.
Knowles is a longtime member of Ron Rankin’s Kootenai County Property Owners Association and believes in cutting government in as many ways as possible.
But, he said, “county clerk isn’t a political job anyway. Once you get in there, there’s nothing partisan about it. You’ve just got a job to do.”
Knowles also says he is open and forthright and would bring integrity to county government.
“I’ve always tried to be honest; I’ve got nothing to hide,” he said.
The county clerk oversees the county’s $33.9 million budget, manages District Court and the recorder’s office and runs all county elections.
English, meanwhile, points to his history of community involvement and says he has warmed to the job in his first 12 months.
“I had some big shoes to fill, but I’ve been able to add some things with my own creativity,” he said.
English hired two part-time clerks rather than one full-time to save money while trying to speed up court activity. He wants to work with the sheriff’s department, which suggested developing a regular court rotation so cops can better predict when they’ll be called to testify.
English also helped get the county on to the Internet and worked with one-time Republican commissioner candidate Reed Simpson to put all the county’s budget information on-line.
“I think we need to do anything we can to improve public access to government,” he said.
He took heat recently for an election error in which one Hayden street was allowed to vote in the primary election for the wrong legislative candidates. While the problem was discovered in August, some of those voters again were given the wrong general election ballot when they tried to vote absentee.
But when the problem came to a head last week, English said, he personally visited households to inform voters - “eyeball to eyeball” - about the repeat error.
“With my manner and philosophy I get a lot of good feedback about the way I deal with folks who are upset,” he said. “If there are conflicts, I’d much rather deal up front.”
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: KOOTENAI COUNTY CLERK Salary: $40,789 Term: Four years. Lee Knowles, Republican Resume: 68… owns bed and breakfast … retired supervisor, British Petroleum … member, Kootenai County Property Owners Association … member, Choosin Few … U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran wounded in Korea. Dan English, Democrat Resume: 44 … incumbent … former Coeur d’Alene city councilman … former Coeur d’Alene school board member … master’s degree, counseling psychology from Gonzaga University.
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