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Candidates look to the future

by EVIE SEABERG
Staff Writer | November 11, 2023 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — A new dynamic was determined for the city of Sandpoint Tuesday night, as city councilors and a mayor were elected to take on new positions.

In January, two new councilors, Kyle Schreiber and Pam Duquette will take on the dais, and incumbent Deb Ruehle will keep her seat. Jeremy Grimm, will be taking Shelby Rognstad’s place as mayor. 

Grimm, who took 53.29% of votes against two other candidates, said he thinks anyone running for office is prepared to be surprised, good or bad, once the sun sets on Election Day. 

“I was prepared to very publicly fall flat on my face and reserved my hope for a win,” Grimm said. “Prior to polling numbers being released it's a really interesting moment of personal self-reflection.”

While he was surprised, he did say he had observed informal polling efforts that offered hope.  

“Salon and barber shop owners along with employees at coffee shops seemed to call it right,” he said. “I stood out in the rain on Tuesday waving signs and as the day progressed I could sense some momentum as passing cars gave thumbs up and honks. It was about 4:30 p.m. when I really began to believe that this was going to happen.” 

Grimm said he wants to thank Sandpoint residents for their trust and willingness to affirm the issues he identifies as critical.

“With a 50% or greater win in every precinct, the voters have given me a mandate, loud and clear,” he said. “There will be hundreds of hours of public discussion and debate over the coming four years. I will work tirelessly for the people of Sandpoint and will never be shy to pause, take it slow, and make sure we are getting it right. This is a great moment to perform a reset. Starting with the Comprehensive Plan, we will work together to create a vision for the Sandpoint of 2040 and then make it happen.” 

Grimm said he couldn’t be more excited to be Sandpoint’s mayor, especially paired with a great city council and a variety of viewpoints. 

“There will be a lot of rebuilding of both the physical infrastructure and the community's trust and confidence,” he said. “Words are cheap, so our actions will need to show this commitment.  The one thing I hear is that people want things to slow down. There is no need to race into the future.”

Grimm said he wants to express his admiration and respect to his opponents as well as other candidates who ran for city council. 

“Their love and passion for Sandpoint as well as those of their supporters, showed and is a strong reminder of how much we all share as a community,” he said. 

Schreiber ended the election with 1,521 votes, the most of any candidate. He said election results instigated even more gratitude for the city he plans to serve.

“I’m absolutely overwhelmed by the support I’ve received from this community,” Schreiber said. “Thank you, Sandpoint, for your confidence in me. I will do my best to represent your voice in our city government.”

Pam Duquette, who also won a city council seat, said she was surprised by the outcome of the election and needed a couple days to absorb the significance of her new role. 

“I have to say, I had no idea which way the election results would really go,” she said. “We had a great group of candidates, and I imagine the choices were hard to make. 

Now, she said she looks forward to the opportunity to repay her community for their support.  

“As a councilwoman, I am excited to continue my conversations with Sandpoint's residents to make sure their voices are heard,” she said. “I think together we can shape our city to be what we want it to be, grow where and how we need to, and still retain our cohesive community feel and environmental appeal.”

While Elle Susnis, a candidate for city council, did not win a seat, she said she is grateful for the experience.

"I’d like to express what a privilege it is to run for office in a town like Sandpoint, where people care so deeply for their community,” she said. “I have learned so much from this experience, and met so many wonderful people.” 

One of Susnis’ objectives was to raise awareness of the importance of historic preservation in our town, which she said is still a priority for her.

“ I believe people are now really thinking about what it means to lose our touchstones and places that make Sandpoint so special,” she said. “This is not the end of the race, it’s just the beginning, to guide responsible development without destroying the things we hold dear. Even though I won’t be on city council, I am here to do the work right beside you. I know you are ready to be involved. Thank you, Sandpoint."