Bowman won with Hailey swing voters in his pocket
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
County voters re-drew a north-south county division this week in a primary
race for the Blaine County Commission. According to the May 25 election
results, which have not yet been canvassed, challenger Tom Bowman ousted
incumbent Mary Ann Mix 1,346 to 889.
But the majority
of voters in the southern part of the county voted for Mix, while voters
in Hailey and north voted for Bowman. It was a marked change from a
1996 primary, when voters from Hailey south voted for Mix, and Mix won
the election 1,345 to 1,122.
residents constituted the swing vote.
think so. I think that was definitely the swing vote," said Blaine
County Clerk Marsha Reimann. "Usually the division is between Hailey
and Ketchum. I was really surprised that there was a division from Bellevue
Had this week’s
election been held only in Bellevue, Picabo, Gannett and Carey—arguably
Blaine County’s more conservative cities—Mix, a self-described fiscally
conservative Democrat, would have won 213 to 132. The majority of the
county’s voters, however, live farther north, particularly the majority
of the county’s Democratic voters, and the commission race was a Democratic
In Carey, Picabo
and Gannett, more voters cast Republican ballots. In Blaine County’s
southernmost voting district, Yale, which is on the banks of the Snake
River, all seven voters cast Republican ballots. Of note, one of those
voters did not vote in the Blaine County Sheriff race, the only contested
race on the Republican ballot.
In the sheriff
race, incumbent Walt Femling easily beat his challenger, Hailey Patrol
Officer Steve England. Femling won in all 14 Blaine County voting districts,
and absentee voters also cast in his favor. Femling will go on to face
Hailey Police Lt. Jeff Gunter in the general election in November.
Despite his loss,
England said he is proud of his effort in the race.
with the way I campaigned," he said. "I campaigned hard and
strong. I went out there door to door. I walked the streets. Win or
lose, I’m pleased with the way I campaigned."
England said he
hopes to see the winner of November’s sheriff election hire some bilingual,
Spanish-speaking dispatchers. He said he hopes the sheriff will solicit
more input from other county law enforcement agencies on construction
and design of a new county jail.
"If I wouldn’t
have campaigned and just put my name on the ballot, I would not be able
to hold my head up," England said. "In four more years, I
expect to win the election and be sheriff." "Maybe people
won’t think I’m too young and inexperienced then."
when election tallies were in, Bowman said he was happy about his performance.
He will run unopposed in the general election in November.
"It’s a real
humbling experience of course," he said. "I look forward to
the position, and I look forward to working with everybody on this.
I have a real short memory as far as who is supporting whom, and I hope
to be as good a commissioner as Mary Ann Mix."
Femling was similarly
with the numbers," he said. "We want to thank everybody who
worked for the last few days to get the numbers up because early indications
were that we would have poor numbers on the Republican side."
Femling showed some nerves. He said he was worried the hotly contested
county commission race would siphon votes away from the Republican ticket
and skew the public’s will.
But now, he said
he is eager to get back to work.
some big issues that will have to be addressed in these next four years,"
he said. "There’s plenty of work to go around, and I look forward