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County picks 6 finalists for health board seat

by MADISON HARDY
Hagadone News Network | April 8, 2021 1:00 AM

Interviews for Jai Nelson's seat on the Panhandle Health District Board of Health are set to begin as commissioners cut a record 18 applications down to six on Monday. 

The role on North Idaho's regional public health board has become increasingly coveted over the last year as a series of mask mandates upset many community members. With one mandate proponent's seat now open, several regional health professionals have thrown their hat in the ring.

Commissioners agreed to interview:

  • Bruce Edwards, M.D., the former Occupational Medicine Physician with the Providence Medical Group. 
  • Duke Johnson, M.D., the CEO and Co-founder of Makkarios LLC.
  • Jessica Jameson, M.D., is an Interventional Pain Medicine Specialist, co-founder of the Axis Spine Center and Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine. 
  • Marian Underdahl, a registered nurse and the former North Idaho College director of Nursing. 
  • Mike Burns, a Clinical Review Nurse with Colmery-O'Neil VA Medical Center. 
  • Richard Meyer Ph.D., an adjunct professor for the Texas Tech University Animal and Food Science Department. 

Edwards, Jameson and Underdahl were supported by Commissioners Bill Brooks and Chris Fillios, Meyer by Brooks and Commissioner Leslie Duncan, and Johnson and Burns recommended by Duncan. 

FORM OF GOVERNMENT

The commissioners also discussed possible guidelines for who could be nominated by the optional forms of government ad hoc committee. After finalizing the three ad hoc members — Coeur d'Alene City Councilman Dan Gookin, Kootenai County senior business analyst Nanci Plouffe, and former Kootenai County Commissioner Marc Eberlein — the board had left the process of nomination predominantly untouched. 

While the commissioners last week discussed whether or not to set guidelines, such as resume submissions, qualifications, and limitations, none were specified Monday. Still, Duncan proposed a handful of requirements Monday. 

She suggested the ad hoc committee set residency qualifications, requiring all candidates to live within Kootenai County and five to be nominated from the unincorporated area.

Duncan also recommended excluding any person running for a county office in May 2022 from the study commission. Her fellow commissioners disagreed. 

"If we're going to start creating sideboards, then why don't we just go back to the initial recommendation that Bill made — for each of us to appoint three," Fillios said. "What we're trying to do, I think, from my perspective, is remove us temporarily so that it's somewhat more effective."