Split results in NIC trustee races
Staff Writer | November 10, 2022 1:08 AM
COEUR d’ALENE — The contentious battle over three seats on North Idaho College’s board of trustees resulted in a split victory for one slate of candidates.
The election is likely to shape NIC’s policies, as one of the newly elected candidates is poised to form a majority bloc with existing trustees with ties to the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee.
Tarie Zimmerman defeated Ron Hartman in Zone 1, with more than 28,000 votes and 51% overall. Zimmerman was unavailable for comment and Hartman could not be reached.
Brad Corkill won in Zone 2 by just 442 votes, leading Diana Sheridan 50.4% to 49.6%.
Nearly 4,000 votes separated the Zone 5 candidates. Mike Waggoner received about 53% of the vote, beating Pete Broschet in his bid to retain the seat to which he was appointed earlier this year.
“I’m a little disappointed, as anyone would be,” Broschet said Wednesday night. “But if it’s the will of the voters, then it’s the will of the voters.”
Waggoner could not be reached for comment.
Two dueling PACs defined the contest.
Friends of NIC — which backed Broschet, Corkill and Zimmerman — declined to comment on the unofficial results reported late Wednesday.
The Kootenai County GOP supported Hartman, Waggoner and Sheridan. The central committee also backed current trustees Todd Banducci and Greg McKenzie, meaning the party needed just one victory for its preferred candidates to regain a majority on the board.
Brent Regan, who chairs the local Republican Party, said candidates supported by the central committee performed well, both locally and statewide.
“Overall, I’m delighted,” he said of Wednesday’s results.
After the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities sanctioned NIC with a warning earlier this year, the college’s accreditation has been at the center of the three trustee races.
Corkill, Zimmerman and Broschet campaigned on promises to protect NIC’s accreditation.
Broschet was one of three candidates temporarily appointed to the board by the Idaho State Board of Education.
“I think (the appointed trustees) accomplished quite a bit of satisfying the accreditation issues that the NWCCU laid out,” he said.
That included hiring a permanent president, implementing a board conduct policy and working toward filling vacant executive positions at the college.
But he cautioned that there’s more work to be done. In its warning, the NWCCU cited persistent issues specifically related to the board of trustees.
“In the short term, I’d like to see the board work together to resolve some issues and build community trust,” Broschet said.
On the other hand, Hartman, Waggoner and Sheridan have maintained that the college’s accreditation is not at risk.
“All that rhetoric was crazy,” he said. “None of that’s going to happen. That was never really an issue. That was a campaign threat.”
Broschet noted that the trustee race appeared to drive voters to the polls Tuesday. Kootenai County had over 61% voter turnout, with more than 63,000 ballots cast.
“I think the community is passionate about NIC,” he said. “They may be passionate for different reasons. NIC is a great treasure to everyone.”
The next meeting of the NIC board of trustees is scheduled for Nov. 30.