Two incumbents survive, the third is defeated

Bonner County officials continue to count ballots in Sandpoint.

Two incumbents were reelected in West Bonner and one was defeated by a dogged challenger. The results are unofficial until the canvass is done later this month.

Interim board chair Margaret Hall bested challenger Alan Galloway by a 59% to 40% margin in Zone 1.

In Zone 3, incumbent Troy Reinbold will be back on the board after edging out his challenger Elizabeth Glazier 61% to 38%.

Newcomer Kathy Nash reversed an early deficit to incumbent Carlyn Barton and ousted her by a 59% to 40% margin.

Hall and Barton were the board’s backstop during several tumultuous months, marked by uncertainty and division among district patrons about board leadership and direction.

A steady stream of West Bonner voters used the Rotary Park Visitor Center polling place in Oldtown Tuesday to cast ballots.

In a steady rain Tuesday morning, West Bonner voters were at the polls in Oldtown, Blanchard, Edgemere and Priest River to decide which candidates will be school trustees serving four-year terms for Zones 1, 3 and 5.

Outside the Rotary Park Visitor Center polling place, candidate supporters passed out donuts and coffee under a blue canopy affixed to the back of a trailer bed. They bent the ear of people stopping by to get out of the rain, warm up and learn about academic performance at the high school or the voting record of an incumbent.

Inside the center, two poll watchers were seated and silent, keeping an eye on the process. They were there only to observe and not talk.

Candidate supporters waited under a canopy in the parking lot to speak with potential voters in Oldtown, one of the polling places for West Bonner school district.

In Zone 1, incumbent Margaret Hall faces challenger Alan Galloway; Zone 3 pits incumbent Troy Reinbold against challenger Elizabeth Glazier; and Zone 5 has incumbent Carlyn Barton taking on challenger Kathy Nash.

In this remote North Idaho school district, Branden Durst, a controversial figure in Idaho politics, is out as superintendent and the two trustees — Susan Brown and Keith Rutledge — who pushed to hire him were recalled in August by a significant margin. Durst’s four-month tenure from June to October was marked by heated opposition and repeated controversy.

School trustees have faced angry, vocal opposition to a series of unpopular decisions. Topics that emerged as lightning rods of controversy include the failure of the supplemental levy and the position some trustees took on that issue; switching to a four-day school week; returning the ELA curriculum which left teachers unprepared at the start of the year; a delayed forensic audit that’s caused the Department of Education to withhold state funds; Durst’s firing of office personnel; a proposal to create a shared junior high and high school campus; and the most polarizing decision was the hiring of Durst in June. 

Ann Yount and Paul Turco were selected Oct. 30 to replace the two recalled trustees. Yount and Turco have deep ties in the community. Their children or grandchildren attend West Bonner schools and both are longtime youth volunteers.

At that same meeting, trustees Hall, Barton and Reinbold — who are all running for reelection — selected Joe Kren to serve as interim superintendent through March 20. Kren is a seasoned administrator and former superintendent who had retired three years ago and lives in Oldtown. As of Tuesday, he’s been on the job for seven days.

Hall, Barton and Reinbold have not yet met as a board with the two newest members. They are scheduled to meet Nov. 15 as a complete, five-person board.

Darren Svan

Darren Svan

Reporter Darren Svan has a background in both journalism and education. Prior to working for military schools at overseas installations, he was news editor at several publications in Wyoming and Colorado. You can send news tips to [email protected].

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