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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Recount confirms sheriff election

Democratic challenger Tony Lamanna lost his gamble that a recount would change the outcome of last month’s election for sheriff in Bonner County.

After the recount Friday at the Bonner County courthouse in Sandpoint, Lamanna lost by nearly the same margin as in the Nov. 2 general election – trailing Republican Elaine Savage by 37 votes instead of 36. His tally of 6,635 votes was unchanged, but the recount found one more vote for Savage, who now finishes with 6,672.

“We did not win, but I could not be more favorably impressed with the electoral process. There is no question about the integrity of the vote,” Anne Bruce, Lamanna’s campaign manager, said Friday evening. “I don’t see that there is any basis for anything further. I just want him to run again.”

Lamanna, reached in Okanogan, Wash., Friday evening, said he was disappointed in the outcome, but pleased at the process of the recount.

Sheriff-elect Savage, who did not attend the recount, could not be reached for comment.

The election for sheriff, which drew seven candidates last spring, became a bitterly contested referendum on the policies of one-term Sheriff Phil Jarvis. Lamanna, a lifelong county resident and resource officer for Priest River schools, became the champion of people who felt there was too much change under Jarvis, who split the county into patrol districts and who swept aside decades-old purchasing, bookkeeping and promotion practices, among other things.

Savage, who was quickly promoted to undersheriff by Jarvis, became the champion for people who felt the sheriff’s office needed to keep pace with a growing and changing community.

Anti-war protester James “Bean” Johnston, running as an independent – largely on a platform of modifying police use of force – picked up 4,007 votes in the general election, a far stronger showing than many pundits had predicted. After the primaries, Johnston said he offered Lamanna a spot on his ticket as undersheriff. The offer was declined.

“I’m still kind of … what can I say. I don’t know where I’m at right now,” Lamanna said.

The 57-year-old said he only ran for sheriff “because over the past couple years, people have expressed to me they are not happy with the sheriff. Morale is terrible. I did this for the troops. I wanted to make a darn good department out of it and have the people to do it.”

The close finish, he said, led to the expensive – nearly $3,000 – step to seek a recount. He sought the recount, he said, because it appeared unlikely Savage would modify any of Jarvis’ policies.

“I didn’t run for sheriff because I needed to be sheriff. I didn’t do this for myself,” Lamanna said.