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OPINION: Recommended candidates

by BRENT REGAN/Common Sense
| March 29, 2024 1:00 AM

The Kootenai County Republican Central Committee (KCRCC), the official Republican Party, has made their recommendations for the upcoming May Primary Election. The KCRCC candidate rating and vetting process is just that, a process involving questionnaires, interviews, candidate forums, due diligence, sub-committee reports, discussion, debate, and finally a vote by the full KCRCC.

Candidates are initially invited to fill out a questionnaire that has 10 standard questions to provide a baseline of knowledge about each candidate. The questionnaire and the candidates’ answers are available on our website www.KCRCC.com

The candidates are interviewed by our Vetting Committee which is a subcommittee of the KCRCC. As part of the vetting process the candidates are asked to give permission to have detailed professional background checks performed.

Usually professional polling is conducted to determine the depth of a candidate’s name recognition and popularity. Also the Secretary of State’s campaign finance website is used to review a candidate’s fundraising and spending.

Committeemen are encouraged to attend the multiple speaking events featuring the candidates so they can be better informed. We also conduct a candidate meet and greet exclusively for committee members to better get to know the candidates face to face. 

We then hold a meeting of the full KCRCC for the purpose of rating the candidates. During that meeting, the Vetting sub-committee Chairman gives a report on their findings. Of particular interest is whether the candidates were completely truthful on their questionnaires and interviews. Most usually are. 

Any committeeman with specific or first-hand information about any candidate is then given the opportunity to share that information with the full committee. We have a round table discussion about all the candidates for a particular office. Each committeeman is given an opportunity to speak. 

Once all the information is presented and discussion is concluded for all the offices, ballots are distributed to all the committeemen. The marked the secret ballots are deposited in a ballot box as the secretary confirms they have voted. Once balloting closes, the ballots are tallied in full view of the committee. The top candidates earning more than 50% of the votes are the ones we recommend.

Most voters do not have the time or resources needed to interview all the candidates on their ballot and so are grateful for the hundreds of man-hours our committee invests to help inform voters and provide recommendations.

Recommendations are just that, the recommendations of the KCRCC committeemen who were elected by you to represent your precinct on the committee. You are still free to vote for whichever candidate you chose and we strongly recommend you meet and question as many of the candidates as you can prior to marking your ballot. 

For the May primary election, the committee spent the most time discussing the two County Commissioner races; four candidates for the District 1 Commissioner seat and two candidates for the District 3 seat. 

All four District 1 candidates are men of significant accomplishment with very unique life stories. 

John Padula, with his remarkable and inspirational journey from convict to pastor is a living testimony that redemption can be found in service to others and faith in God. Bat Masterson, veteran, nurse, cowboy who is broadly liked and admired throughout the community. Dale Gibboney the professional pilot, intelligent, competent and respected by his peers. 

Any one of these men, with time and training would likely gain the needed skills to perform the role of County Commissioner. The question however is how much time and how much training. Keep in mind that if two freshman commissioners were elected the sum total experience for all three commissioners on the BOCC would be two years. 

The one candidate with demonstrated ability to perform well as a County Commissioner is Marc Eberlein. As a former commissioner we know for a fact that Marc can competently do the job from day one. He is the low risk candidate needed for our uncertain times. He is a budget hawk that will protect your property rights while finding innovative solutions to the county’s many problems. Marc received 74% of the vote in a four-way race.

Discussions on the District 3 commissioner race boiled down to a similar decision between promise and experience. Brett Surplus has an interesting and eclectic career spanning law enforcement to television producer to real estate agent.

The incumbent is Leslie Duncan, our competent and hardworking commissioner who is dedicated to our county and has earned the respect of many. She is the current BOCC chairman and has the most experience. She received 91% of the vote.

Sometimes we are tempted to choose a promise and wishful thinking over a known quantity. You wouldn’t pick a surgeon because he is a nice guy with a fancy brochure. You want the experienced, low risk choice of someone with demonstrated ability. 

For these reasons, the KCRCC recommends Marc Eberlein and Leslie Duncan for County Commissioner.

It’s just common sense.

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Brent Regan is chairman of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee.