Bonner County voters knocked 11 candidates out of crowded county commission and sheriff races Tuesday.
The race was packed, candidates say, because so much is at stake in the county. A growing real estate boom is expected to strain county services. And the county also is revising its comprehensive plan, which governs all aspects of planning, zoning and growth.
Incumbent District 2 Democratic Commissioner Brian Orr appears to have survived a challenge by retired conservation warden Don Carr, according to preliminary results. Orr, of Oldtown, is seeking his third term on the commission. Orr was ahead with 825 votes to Carr’s 571 votes, with 25 of 33 precincts reporting.
Orr thinks his experience will help guide the county through the changes.
“The issues in Bonner County have probably been the same for the last 20 years: budget, roads and law enforcement,” Orr said in an earlier interview. All the changes, however, are amplified by the population growth, he said. Orr believes the county could nearly double in size in the next decade.
Republican Joe Young, of Priest River, beat fellow party members Tom Hartliep and Neal Hewitt for the nomination. Young is a self-described conservative Republican with previous experience in law enforcement and the U.S. Navy.
A Constitution Party candidate will be on the ballot in November for the District 2 race.
Undersheriff Elaine Savage secured the Republican nomination for the sheriff’s race, according to preliminary results posted on the county’s Web site. Her candidacy was endorsed by outgoing Sheriff Phil Jarvis, who decided against seeking a second term. Savage, previously the police chief for Priest River, became a captain in the department in 2001. She beat three Republican challengers: Cal Wylie, sheriff’s Lt. Harvey Thompson, former sheriff’s Sgt. Larry Schulze.
Savage, who boasts deep roots in the area, will face veteran lawman Tony Lamanna in the November election. Lamanna also has old family ties to Bonner County — his grandparents settled in Priest River. He has previous experience as a Spokane street cop. Lamanna beat Democrat J.R. Banks for the nomination.
An independent candidate will also appear on the November ballot.
One of the tightest races was for eastern Bonner County’s District 3 seat. Incumbent Commissioner Jerry Clemons is stepping down. With 25 of 33 precincts reporting, Democrat Dale Van Stone appeared to be edging out Larry Keith by less than 100 votes for the nomination.
Van Stone hoped to return to the commissioner’s seat he held from 1995 to 2001. The 58-year-old Hope resident said he would push for an aggressive road and sewer improvement program. Keith, a published poet and the former mayor of Hope, said he wants to see more of a focus on smart growth.
Four Republicans faced off in the primary. Litehouse Inc. salad dressing salesman Karl Dye beat out three other Republicans for the nomination. With 25 of 33 precincts reporting, Dye had won 680 votes, beating his opponents: Jim Quinn, Lewis Rich and Anker Rasmussen. Two independents will be on the ballot in the November general election.
Dye, 36, worked as a manager for one of the nation’s largest corporations, Caterpillar, before returning to Idaho two years ago to take a sales job with Litehouse. He wants to make it easier for other young professionals to live in the county.
“I’m fortunate enough to work for Litehouse, but with few noted exceptions there aren’t a lot of good paying jobs,” Dye said in an earlier interview.
In the county assessor’s race, Steve Carter was beating fellow Republican Carl White for the nomination. He will face Democrat Judy Conlan in November.
Turnout was 23 percent, with 25 of 33 precincts reporting.
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