SANDPOINT — Three potential successors to Bonner County Commissioner Joyce Broadsword’s seat on the board swiftly emerged on Tuesday.
Dennis Engelhardt received the most votes — 20 — from the Bonner County Republican party’s voter precinct committeemen, effectively making him the local GOP’s top choice for the District 1 seat. Cornel Rasor and Glen Bailey followed closely with 18 votes and 17 votes, respectively.
The short-list of nominees will be forwarded to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, who has 15 days to pick one of the nominees to succeed Broadsword. If Otter does not make his appointment within 15 days, the list goes back to the local GOP to pick Broadsword’s successor.
Thirty GOP precinct committeemen and women cast secret ballots after hearing brief statements from the six candidates.
The top three contenders surfaced after a single round of voting.
Former Commissioner Marcia Phillips started out strong in the early on in the counting, but was ultimately outpaced by Engelhardt, Bailey, former Commissioner Cornel Rasor and Idaho Fish & Game Commissioner Tony McDermott as the counting went on.
Engelhardt, a 61-year-old retired law enforcement administrator and veteran, emphasized his 20 years of experience in budget management during his brief remarks to the committeemen and committeewomen.
“I know how to take care of taxpayers’ money,” said Engelhardt.
Rasor, meanwhile, played up his prior experience as a county commissioner and his efforts to limit federal fingerprints on Bonner County’s natural resources.
“I would like to continue my work,” said Rasor, who lost the GOP nomination to Broadsword in last May’s primary election.
Glen Bailey surfaced as the dark horse in Tuesday’s contest.
Unlike Engelhardt and Rasor, Bailey hasn’t previously sought or held public office in northern Idaho.
Bailey, a 1st District Court bailiff, said he’s seen some of the same defendants come through court time and again, which underscores the need for stronger families and personal responsibility.
Bailey also pledged to curb the growth of government and needlessly complex bureaucracy.
“Small government is works better,” said Bailey.
McDermott said his education in military science and background in military service would influence his leadership style.
“I’m battle tested,” said McDermott, adding that his skills would complement those of his colleagues on the board
Phillips, who lost her GOP nomination to Rasor, said she would love to serve on the board again and highlighted its accomplishments when she was in office. They included revamping the county employee retirement system and regaining control of the dysfunctional dispatch center.
“We were able to do that without a tax hit,” she said.
Orin LaRitchie pledged to bring more stability to the commission and his service on the Northern Lights Inc. board gave him the skills necessary to structure budgets and function amid political strife.
“I operate pretty well under fire,” said LaRitchie.