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West Bonner schools board chair and vice-chair voted out in recall election

The West Bonner County School District logo
West Bonner County School District

West Bonner School District board chair Keith Rutledge and vice chair Susan Brown have been removed from office, according to unofficial results from Tuesday’s recall election.

For the recall votes to have succeeded, 245 people had to vote to recall Rutledge; 177 needed to vote to remove Brown.

When the votes were counted Tuesday night, 613 people voted to remove Brown. 745 voted to remove Rutledge. Both totals were far above the necessary threshold.

The recall petitions that prompted the election alleged Rutledge and Brown failed to live up to their oath to work in good faith to improve schools in the West Bonner district. The petitions also said the two trustees didn’t conduct board business in a transparent fashion, and did not respect the views of other board members or the rights of constituents.

Rutledge and Brown were two members of the three-person board majority that voted to hire conservative politico Branden Durst as the district’s superintendent. That decision generated public opposition and stoked trouble with the Idaho Board of Education over Durst’s credentials. The petitions did not mention Durst’s hiring as a motivating factor, but the recall drive launched shortly after the board’s decision to hire Durst in early June.

While the petitioners didn't make any partisan argument to remove the trustees from the board, Rutledge and Brown took a different tack to persuade voters to keep them in office.

"Since being elected I have dedicated hundreds of hours to holding our district administration accountable to its residents and keeping woke liberal agendas out of our district," Brown wrote in a rebuttal statement printed on Tuesday's ballots.

"Voting AGAINST my recall will keep a
conservative majority on the school board that is working hard to improve the outcomes for our district's children," Rutledge wrote in his ballot statement.

The remaining trustees – Margaret Hall, Carlyn Barton and Troy Reinbold – have 90 days to appoint successors drawn from the zones Rutledge and Brown represented. The appointees will serve the rest of their terms, which end in January 2026.

Hall, Barton and Reinbold are up for election as part of a regular election cycle in November.

Brandon Hollingsworth is your All Things Considered host. He has served public radio audiences for fifteen years, primarily in reporting, hosting and interviewing. His previous ports-of-call were WUOT-FM in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Alabama Public Radio. His work has been heard nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here and Now and NPR’s top-of-the-hour newscasts.