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Most incumbents retain seats in Kalispell school election

Daily Inter Lake | May 5, 2021 2:10 PM

Incumbents swept all but one race in Kalispell Public Schools’ hotly contested trustee election, according to unofficial results made available Wednesday.

School elections concluded at 8 p.m. Tuesday and ballot counting wrapped up around midnight.

About 42,115 ballots were mailed to voters. There were 13,281 ballots cast in the mail-ballot election, which included an elementary levy that passed, a high school levy that didn’t pass and a land acquisition question that was approved.

Incumbents Sue Corrigan, Rebecca Linden and Lance Isaak retained their seats representing the elementary district for three-year terms. Corrigan received 4,164 votes; Linden, 3,934 and Isaak, 3,886. Candidates Tina Tobiason received 2,208 votes, Shaun Pandina, 1,984 and Trish Pandina, 1,810.

Incumbent Kim Wilson also retained a seat in the elementary district for a one-year term with 3,984 votes. Candidate Dennis Gomez received 2,144 votes.

The high school district trustee election resulted in a tight race with candidate Heather Asher garnering 772 votes, unseating incumbent Amy Waller, who received 713 votes. The seat, which represents Cayuse Prairie, Deer Park and Fair-Mont-Egan schools, is for a three-year term.

A $557,158 elementary district general fund levy narrowly passed with 3,365 votes for the measure and 3,336 against. Owners of homes with a market value of $200,000 can expect annual taxes to increase by $24.04. Money generated by the levy can cover a variety of costs involved in the day-to-day operation of schools and education of students, such as salaries, curriculum and textbooks, utilities, technology and maintenance.

In another close contest, taxpayers living in the high school district, which encompasses Kalispell and 13 surrounding partner school districts, voted down a $700,000 technology levy by a difference of 48 votes. There were 6,519 votes for and 6,567 against the measure. A levy of any type hasn’t passed in the high school district since 2007.

If the technology levy had passed it would have increased annual taxes by $13.33 for owners of homes with a market value of $200,000.

A QUESTION of land acquisition was approved with 9,476 votes and 3,672 against. This means the district will move forward with purchasing a lot in the Old School Station to relocate its fleet of district-owned buses and maintenance shop from city-owned property. The district’s intent is to also relocate its transportation, maintenance, grounds, storage, shipping and receiving facilities to centralize departments. The purchase will be made using money the district has set aside in an interlocal fund.

“Due to extremely close races there will be extra steps taken to ensure counts are accurate,” Kalispell Superintendent Micah Hill said in a press release announcing results.

If election results are within 1%, a recount may be requested at the district’s expense. If results are within 4% the costs would fall to the individual requesting a recount, according to district officials.

“On behalf of the Kalispell Public Schools Board of Trustees, students, staff and administration we are humbled and grateful for the support the community has shown our schools through the passage of the Elementary General Fund Levy and the Land Acquisition request,” Hill said in the release. “We are naturally disappointed that the passage of the high school technology levy fell short as it would have been pivotal in providing very needed resources in serving our students and staff. We truly believe our district is worthy of a supportive community. We will continue to work hard to earn the respect and trust from our taxpayers that will help us serve the students and families of our district.”

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or