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Fitzgerald to resign next month

by JOSH MCDONALD
Staff Reporter | July 29, 2022 11:56 AM

WALLACE — The Shoshone County Democratic Central Committee is looking for interested parties to fill an upcoming vacancy on the Shoshone Board of County Commissioners (BOCC).

District 1 Commissioner Mike Fitzgerald formally submitted his letter of resignation on July 14, and made it known that his final day as a commissioner would be Aug. 5.

The process of filling the vacancy of a county commissioner is defined in Idaho Code 59-906A, and is slightly different from many of the other processes for filling a vacancy at the county level. Most of them, similar to the recent announcement from Shoshone County Sheriff Mike Gunderson, are handled locally by the BOCC themselves.

Instead, according to the code, the process for getting a new commissioner following the resignation or retirement of another requires participation from several different entities.

“In the event of a vacancy on a board of county commissioners, such vacancy shall be filled as herein provided. The county central committee of the same political party, if any, of the former member whose seat is vacant shall submit, within fifteen days, a list of three nominations to the governor. The governor shall fill the vacancy by appointment from the list of three nominations within fifteen days.”

However, the code goes on to further state that if the governor doesn’t render their decision in those 15 days then the decision goes back to the central committee who has 15 days to make a decision.

If the central committee cannot decide, then the governor has five days to choose anyone he likes who has the qualifications.

Shoshone County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Allen, who went through a vacancy filling process earlier this year, voiced his concerns surrounding the serious nature of this entire process.

“As the county’s attorney, I have advised our county on the procedures to be used to fill the vacancy as outlined in Idaho Code, which presents an interesting nuance,” Allen said. “Unlike other vacancies where replacement decisions are made by local constituents, the replacement decision for a county commissioner lies in the hands of our governor, someone who may not otherwise be personally familiar with the nominees. As such, it is vitally important that all three nominees required for submission to the governor be individuals that our county feels comfortable standing behind, as there will be no way of knowing which one he will ultimately choose.”

In this instance, it is possible that the governor could pick the person who aligns more closely with him, or even completely by random — which means that anyone who is nominated needs to be a qualified candidate.

By that same Idaho Code, this selected individual will serve out the remainder of the term for which the original commissioner was elected.

Fitzgerald, who ran as a Democrat, was elected to a four-year term in 2020, so whoever fills his seat will be in the position until the term ends at the beginning of January 2025 — unless they are re-elected in 2024.

According to the chairman of the Shoshone County Democratic Central Committee (SCDCC), very little interest has been shown in filling the position.

Eligibility for the seat is very much location based, meaning that the nominees must reside in Shoshone County’s District 1, which includes all of the city of Kellogg through the western half of the city of Osburn.

The boundaries in Osburn are a little hard to pin down, but for simple reference, if you live west of Third Street (right off the I-90 offramp), then you are likely within District 1.

Clarifications for the boundaries may be found by contacting the Shoshone County Clerk’s Office at 208-752-1264.

If anyone living in those boundaries is interested in filling the District 1 seat for the Shoshone Board of County Commissioners, they need to reach out to Duane Little, chairman of the Shoshone County Democratic Central Committee with a resume.

Little has stated that SCDCC will convene on Aug. 18, to formalize the nominations that they will be sending to Gov. Brad Little.

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