SANDPOINT — Incumbents garnered the highest number of votes in Tuesday's council elections in both Ponderay and Sandpoint.
Shannon Williamson will continue to serve on the Sandpoint council with 735 votes in her favor — nearly 2,700 voters turned out for the Sandpoint election.
"I owe a huge thank you to each and every person that had the confidence in me to continue serving the city of Sandpoint as a council member," Williamson said in an email to the Daily Bee Tuesday. "I am truly grateful and appreciate the support. I look forward to working with the rest of the council on projects and initiatives that will continue to make Sandpoint the best it can be."
Joining her on council in January will be Joel Aispuro and John Darling Jr., who garnered 649 and 578 votes respectively.
"I am honored to be voted into office for Sandpoint City Council by the residents of Sandpoint," Darling said in an email. "I hope to be a voice of the people to our local government and am committed to being a honest and fair representative for our community."
Aispuro issued a statement to the Daily Bee on Tuesday as well.
"I first want to thank the wonderful people of Sandpoint for their trust in me," Aispuro said. "It is truly a humbling experience to be able to serve the community in this capacity. I look forward to the future."
The other candidates on the ballot included Jeff Bohnhof, who trailed Darling by about 100 votes at 484, and Mose Dunkel and Robert Jediny, who tied at 123 votes each.
In Ponderay, incumbent Kathy Osborne took the lead with 50 of the 130 votes cast.
"I'd like to thank everyone who voted for me and I look forward to continuing to work with Ponderay City Council," Osborne said. "And I look forward to more community involvement in the years to come."
Phil McNearney will take over Councilwoman Karen Engel's seat in January as he garnered 42 votes. Also running were Jacquie Guinan and Nancy Piatt with 17 and 21 votes respectively.
"Kudos to all the folks who came out to have their votes counted and also for all the candidates," McNearney said in an email. "City and county elections have so much influence in our daily lives, but not much credit. It is commendable that we had four qualified candidates and a good turnout, not that it couldn't be better. Please tell your friends and neighbors to bring their pet projects and peeves to the mayor, council, and staff's attention. It's hard to govern in a vacuum."
Ponderay was also the only ballot in the county to include a local option tax in the election. With 50 of 72 votes in favor, the 7-percent local option tax will be added to bills for hotel/motel stays of less than 30 days, so there is no cost to the local taxpayers unless they stay in a hotel. The city already has a 5 percent "bed tax," so it is an increase of 2 percent over the current tax and will extend it out for eight more years. The majority of the city's "bed tax" is used to support the Selkirk-Pend Oreille Transit bus — a not-for-profit collaborative between the cities of Dover, Sandpoint, Ponderay and Kootenai that provides a free public bus service.
Piatt again appeared on the Ponderay ballot, as well as Kootenai's, as she competed against Donny Knott for sub-district 2 commissioner of Northside Fire District. With 251 votes in his favor, Knott will take on the position. Sub-district 3 candidates were Vernon Roof and incumbent Lewis Rich, with Roof garnering 317 votes to Rich's 129. Westside Fire candidates for sub-district 1 included Allo Pucci, who garnered 112 votes to 27 votes for incumbent Gerald Warren.
On the other side of the county, Larry Larsen and Larry Morell competed for position of West Pend Oreille Fire commissioner for sub-district 1. Larsen garnered 87 votes with Morell receiving 78 votes. Spirit Lake and Timberlake fire districts were also in the running with Mark Miller, 69 votes, and Jonathan Hall, 50 votes, vying for Spirit Lake Fire sub-district 2 commissioner; David Rudebaugh and Sherry Graaskamp vying for Timberlake sub-district 4, 5 votes each; and Deborah Rose, 7 votes, and Sam Conner, 5 votes, for Timberlake's sub-district 5.
None of the other City Council or mayoral elections in the county were contested, and as some were lacking candidate names, several write-in candidates will take on the elected positions.
In Dover, William Strand and write-in Kristy Evans garnered 38 and 25 votes respectively for the two available City Council positions. Russel Schenck will continue as mayor of Clark Fork as he took all 26 votes. Shari Jones and write-in Blaine Williams will take on the two council positions in Clark Fork with 21 and two votes respectively.
In Hope, Carolyn Guldberg and Robert Lizotte each received 16 votes for the two council positions, and Lonna Bernard and Thomas Grimm took East Hope with 28 and 27 votes. A two-year City Council term was also up for election in East Hope, and Ian Barrett, the only name on the ballot, received 30 votes. Kootenai had two council seats open as well with David Sundquist and Grace Bauer garnering 27 and 30 votes respectively.
James Martin will continue as mayor of Priest River with 59 votes, and Gary Stewart and write-in candidate Candy Turner took the two council positions with 64 and 26 votes. With two council seats open and no names on the Oldtown ballot, write-ins Bobby Jones and Anna Burns won the election with five and four votes.