Three Republicans and a Democrat are hoping to be elected as the next Boundary County treasurer. Tuesday’s primary election will decide which Republican will face Democrat John R. Sanders, of Naples, in the general election.
Candidates Ron Sukenik and Clorrisa Koster both have extensive experience working for county governments. Candidate Jennifer Fessler did not respond to repeated requests for an interview.
Koster, of Naples, is chief deputy of the Bonner County Treasurer’s Office. She decided to run for the top treasurer spot in her home county “to give back to the community and serve the people in the county I live in,” she said.
Boundary County is beginning to feel the same real estate boom that’s long been under way in Sandpoint and surrounding Bonner County. Koster also believes her experience in Bonner County will help her better serve Boundary County residents. Although the treasurer does not assess property values, the treasurer can help residents who experience financial difficulty because of rising property taxes.
“I have an insight into what is coming to Boundary County,” she said. “I can offer an office that is well-educated so we can explain these tax issues back to the property owner.”
Sukenik, of Bonners Ferry, has spent the last 17 years working for Boundary County as district court bailiff and jury commissioner. He has also helped streamline and computerize other county offices, including building computer databases now in use by the county clerk, prosecuting attorney and Sheriff’s Department.
“One of the things I’ve done is use my skills to make offices run better and smoother,” he said.
Sukenik said his office management skills and investment experience could help add efficiencies to the treasurer’s office and save tax dollars.
“There really is no way the treasurer can do that other than running an efficient office and efficiently investing county funds to increase the cash flow,” Sukenik said. “Every dollar I could bring in … means less tax dollars that are needed.”
Both Sukenik and Koster believe the outgoing treasurer, Wilma DeVore, has done a good job. Neither said they have any big plans for changing the office.
“I just want to continue what she has done in serving the public,” Koster said.
Koster said her experience working as chief deputy treasurer of Bonner County will offer the most seamless transition.
“When training someone, it can take a year before that person is fully trained and has experienced the full cycle of the office,” she said. “Almost anyone can be trained, but electing someone that already knows the position avoids this interruption within the office.”
Although Sukenik has no criticism of the current treasurer, he said he would find a way to offer faster service during tax-paying time. This might include offering later hours.
“It’s hard enough to pay taxes as it is; you shouldn’t have to stand in line for 20 minutes to do it,” Sukenik said.
As the longtime jury commissioner, Sukenik said he would be well-suited to deal with taxpayers, since most members of juries often aren’t thrilled about fulfilling this duty.
“It’s not on everybody’s top 10 favorite things to do,” Sukenik said. “It’s probably right up there with paying taxes.”