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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

North Idaho College board race shows mixed results during counting delays

The entrance of North Idaho College is photographed on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021.  (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)

A candidate backed by Republicans and two candidates backed by the Chamber of Commerce are leading the race for North Idaho College’s Board of Trustees.

Mike Waggoner has a seven-point lead over Pete Broshet; Tarie Zimmerman has a three-point lead over Ron Hartman; and Brad Corkill has a one-point lead over Diana Sheridan.

Waggoner, Hartman and Sheridan are backed by the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, despite the nonpartisan nature of the election. Broschet, Zimmerman and Corkill are the three candidates endorsed by the political action committee Friends of NIC and the Coeur d’Alene Regional Chamber of Commerce.

One precinct still hadn’t reported as of Wednesday afternoon; 98.6% of the unofficial results were counted on Wednesday.

County staff worked overnight Tuesday and are continuing to process ballots, a note on the Kootenai County election webpage said. Write-in votes and ballots where a voter marked one candidate, crossed that candidate out and then voted for a different candidate are behind the delays.

These ballots must be fully duplicated onto a new ballot by three election workers. There are nearly a thousand ballots with candidates crossed out and over 12,600 write-ins, which is slowing down the counting, the note said.

In Zone 5, Waggoner is ahead with 53.4% of the vote to Broschet’s 46.6%.

Broschet acknowledged on his campaign Facebook page that he appears to have lost.

“During the past few months, many have worked with such passion and energy on the Broschet 4 NIC campaign, I cannot thank them enough,” he stated. “As of this time it looks like my run for NIC Trustee has come to an end.”

Kootenai County GOP chairman Brent Regan said campaign claims about NIC loosing accreditation were just rhetoric and accreditation was never seriously at risk.

“Mr. Waggoner is one of the hardest working candidates I have seen,” he said. “His skill set will be a good fit for the NIC board and I believe most everyone will be pleased to put the bickering and political maneuvering behind them as they work for a better future for NIC.”

In Zone 1, Zimmerman has 51.7% of the vote while Hartman has 48.3%. And in Zone 2, Corkill has 50.5% of the vote while Sheridan has 49.5%.

NIC’s accreditation status is under scrutiny by the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities amid complaints from human rights groups over the college’s board of trustees.

Former trustee Michael Barnes resigned in January after questions arose about his residency. Once he left, the board often was at a stalemate, with trustees Christie Wood and Ken Howard on one side and Todd Banducci and Greg McKenzie on the other. When they couldn’t agree on a replacement for Barnes, Wood and Howard also resigned, leaving the board without a quorum.

This prompted the State Board of Education to step in and appoint three new members to the board, including Broschet.

Wood said Wednesday that the election returns showed “the college is in for some more dark days ahead,” referring to the election of Waggoner. “The college is really still at risk,” Wood said. “I hope, for Brad (Corkill) and Tarie (Zimmerman), that they can find a relationship with these trustees that was just impossible for Ken and I to find.”

S-R reporter Kip Hill contributed to this story.

James Hanlon's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.