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PRESS ENDORSEMENTS: Locke, Manteuffel deserve voter support

| May 13, 2022 1:00 AM

COUNTY CLERK

Election integrity matters to each and every one of us. It’s the foundation upon which this entire democratic republic is built.

There is no more important elected position than county clerk, under whom all local election responsibilities fall.

To those entrusted to vigorously protect that foundation, experience matters, and that’s one of the reasons we support Deputy Clerk Jennifer Locke on May 17. Clerk Jim Brannon appointed Locke five years ago, and it’s proven to be a wise hire.

No large department operates flawlessly. It’s when something goes wrong and managers must mitigate damage quickly that actual effectiveness can be judged. Put a leader in the middle of a wreck and his or her response will tell you more about that leader than snapshots when everything’s running smoothly.

Locke and Brannon both responded without hesitation when an alarm from Hayden voters was sounded last year. A poll worker stands accused of openly electioneering; an act that would undermine election integrity at its core. The clerk’s office cooperated immediately and effectively, attempting to get to the truth rather than get defensive.

The Press works closely with the elections office, the most visible but not the only department in the clerk’s realm of responsibility. The clerk’s office oversees four other departments, including auditor, district court, recorder and county assistance. In all, the clerk manages 105 employees and a budget of almost $8 million.

Locke has consistently proven her competence and reliability. She’s qualified and ready to lead.

COUNTY CORONER

Dr. Duke Johnson will eventually be elected to a local position. He came up short last year in his quest for a seat on the hospital board, and despite ardent support from the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee for his run now as county coroner, he very well could come up short again.

That’s because his opponent, Dr. Mark Manteuffel, has been preparing for this position for some time. Manteuffel is imminently qualified, and he has legions of knowledgeable medical and law enforcement professionals vouching for him. The vetting process on Manteuffel is one built over many years by many people, not a simple, one-dimensional partisan panel prompted to “recommend” ideologically aligned candidates.

In a recent candidate endorsement letter from perhaps the most qualified voice to speak out, current Coroner Dr. Warren Keene documented the many entities endorsing Manteuffel, then dropped this two-sentence bomb:

“His opponent [Johnson] visited my office for 30 minutes recently to learn everything. He seems like a nice man that knows a lot about supplements.”

There’s nothing supplemental about Dr. Mark Manteuffel. He should be the next Kootenai County coroner.