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Opinion >  Column

Huckleberries: What if they threw an election and hardly anyone showed up?

The bumpersnicker (see Huckleberries roundup) on the Subaru Outback owned by Coeur d’Alene violinist Cathyanne Nonini. (Cathyanne Nonini/Facebook photo)
The bumpersnicker (see Huckleberries roundup) on the Subaru Outback owned by Coeur d’Alene violinist Cathyanne Nonini. (Cathyanne Nonini/Facebook photo)

If you hold an election and only 5.68 percent show up, does it still count? Seems so. Despite the lousy turnout in Kootenai County on Tuesday, candidates were still elected to seats for highway, school, water, library and hospital districts.

County Clerk Jim Brannon and Deputy Clerk Jennifer Locke called Huckleberries throughout the day to report on election “color” and the dismal turnout.

Father Roger LaChance, the retiring padre at St. Pius X Catholic Church of Coeur d’Alene, for example, was the first person to vote at one of the two polling places in his church – at 9:38 a.m. The polls opened 98 minutes earlier. An hour later, Alison McArthur of the Post Falls Senior Center reported that no one had voted at the center’s two polling places. At about 6 p.m. Nancy White of Coeur d’Alene was about to jump in her jammies after a trying day in which she battled a yellowjacket trapped in her car. Then, she remembered the election, jumped back in the car, and became the 33rd voter in her precinct.

At 5:45 p.m., almost 10 hours after the polls opened, I was only the 17th person to vote at Coeur d’Alene’s Precinct 52. The two races on my ballot? One seat on the Lakes Highway District and two seats on the hospital board. Hardly show stoppers. But important. Only 26 of 701 eligible voters in my precinct performed their civic duty – or 3.71 percent.

Washington and Oregon have it right. Idaho needs vote-by-mail, too.

Fan mail

Donna Scripture of Spokane has followed the items in Huckleberries about Heather Branstetter’s new book, “Selling Sex in the Silver Valley: A Business of Doing Pleasure.” In the 1940s, Scripture and her five siblings lived in her father’s Carter Hotel in Wallace (which, she’s quick to add, was a “GOOD” hotel). One day, Scripture tells Huckleberries, she and other children at Our Lady of Lourdes grade school were asked to sell raffle tickets. So she knocked on the Gem Hotel. A woman came to the door and asked: “What can I do for you, honey?” Scripture asked if she would like to buy a ticket. The woman said, “Sure,” and gave her two dollars, which was a lot of money in the 1940s. That night at the dinner table, Scripture talked about the nice woman from the Gem Hotel. She didn’t understand until much later why her mother got upset and demanded that she was never to go there again.


Poet’s Corner: “She loves to hear the robin sing/his song up in the tree,/and yet the little garden worm/would likely disagree” – Tom Wobker, The Bard of Sherman Avenue (“It’s All Relative”)Coeur d’Alene businessman Mike Kennedy was impressed by the beer cup holders above the men’s urinals at CenturyLink Field on a recent trip to Seattle. But he wasn’t as impressed on the trip home when he spotted a bathroom key on a miniature toilet plunger next to the food heat lamps at a Moses Lake gas station … Nothing New Under the Sun: Copy Editor Mike McGarr/S-R saw that Huckleberries item about the top four, familiar topics from a 1967 radio re-broadcast (Middle East, abortion, Russia and race). One-ups Mike, who is reading the original “Sherlock Holmes” stories: “In the very first paragraph, Dr. Watson talks about how ‘the second Afghan war’ had already begun. This was in 1892.” Adds Mike: “Heavy sigh” … Bumpersnicker (on Coeur d’Alene violinist Cathyanne Nonini’s Subaru Outback, accompanied by a “VIOLIN” vanity plate): “If you can read this (followed by notes on a music scale), thank a music teacher.”

Parting shot

Author Heather Branstetter reports that The History Press sold out the first run of 900 books of her “Selling Sex in the Silver Valley: A Business of Doing Pleasure” – before the release date last Monday. Branstetter admits she’s having trouble keeping up with the demand. She has had to re-supply books for the Depot Museum in Wallace and The Well-Read Moose in Coeur d’Alene. Also, the books are now available at the North Idaho Museum in Coeur d’Alene and Auntie’s in Spokane. Branstetter (who will be conducting a reading at 7 p.m. Friday at the Wallace Brewing Co.) tells Huckleberries: “I have orders for more coming in constantly. It’s been a little crazy. I’m beyond happy to see this level of interest, though!” Huckleberries predicts a movie or a documentary in Branstetter’s future.

D.F. “Dave” Oliveria can be reached at (509) 319-0354 or

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