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

Tondee makes it official

Todd Tondee, Republican candidate for the Kootenai County Board of Commissioners, pumps his fist and announces his early lead Tuesday evening at the Hot Rod Café in Post Falls. His son, Brad Ratcliff, watches results on a computer. 
 (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Republican Todd Tondee will start his new job as Kootenai County commissioner pushing for impact fees and other solutions to the area’s growth problems.

Tondee, a Post Falls councilman who owns a pizza shop and used car lot, was easily beating perennial candidate Tom Macy, who ran as an independent. In early returns Tondee had about 65 percent of the vote.

Tondee campaigned to have regular town hall meetings and to study changing the style of county government, perhaps having a county administrator.

But Tuesday night, Tondee said his priority is overseeing the rewrite of the county’s growth plan and making sure the supporting zoning and subdivision laws are in place.

“We need to master plan the entire county instead of just reacting to developers,” Tondee said from his victory party at the Hot Rod Café in Post Falls. “I don’t think it’s too late.”

Tondee admitted that changing the county’s form of government will be a tough sell to voters, but he will keep working on the idea.

Macy, who ran as a Libertarian in 2004, called for a moratorium on growth until the county can unscramble numerous land-use problems, including the trend of allowing dense development in the most rural areas.

Macy decided to take his wife on vacation in Oregon instead of staying for the Election Day parties. In an interview last week, he said that even if he lost he would still vow to push for the commission to follow current land-use laws.

“It’s really serious and it’s hurting the county,” Macy said of examples such as the commission amending the growth plan to allow for luxury golf retreats in rural areas. “I certainly got a lot more people aware of situation than were before.”

Tondee ousted Commission Chairman Gus Johnson in the May Republican primary when Rich Piazza beat Commissioner Katie Brodie. Piazza had no challenger in Tuesday’s election.

Both Tondee and Piazza will take office in January, joining Commissioner Rick Currie, the only holdover.

After the inauguration, the three Republicans must hash out who becomes the next board chairman—a largely ceremonial title. The chairman often becomes the face of the commission and runs the weekly public business meetings.

Tondee declined to comment Tuesday on who should get the chairmanship.

Voters let Republican County Treasurer Tom Malzahn keep his job as tax collector. Malzahn was beating out Democrat Dan Duffey with 62 percent of the vote in early returns.

Malzahn and Duffy, an accountant in the county auditor’s office, both campaigned on improving customer service in the current anti-tax climate. Malzahn said he was already making many of these improvements.

Kootenai County Assessor Mike McDowell easily overcame Libertarian challenger John Gessner. Early returns showed McDowell with 78 percent of the vote. Gessner said he only ran because he doesn’t want anyone to run unopposed.