Latah County will lose nearly 50 years of experience with the departure of Treasurer Lois Reed, Assessor Pat Vaughan and Commissioner Richard Walser.

BJ Swanson, the county's next treasurer, Rod Wakefield, the next assessor, and Kathie LaFortune, a new county commissioner, will be sworn in today to fill their roles.

The swearing-in ceremony and reception will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the Latah County Courthouse, Room 2B.

While the combined 46 years of experience of Reed, Vaughan and Walser will be missed, all three, none of which sought re-election in 2018, expect a successful transition with their successor.

Treasurer

Reed, 69, bid farewell to the courthouse Dec. 31 after 26 years of service in the treasurer's office. She started working for the county in 1992 and was elected treasurer in 2010 and again in 2014.

"I loved what I did at the county," Reed said. "I loved my job. I loved the taxpayers."

Collecting taxes is one of the primary duties of the treasurer's office, and while Reed said it may not be a popular job among residents, she viewed the payment of property taxes as a civic responsibility to cover services in the county.

"The thing that I remember most is the privilege and the honor of being a county civil servant," Reed said. "Everyone who works at that courthouse sits and works there at the pleasure of the county constituents, and it's our job to do the very best we can to help those people with whatever they need."

Reed said she shed several tears when people stopped by her office and wished her well in retirement, but she's confident Swanson will do a stellar job as the new treasurer.

"She is so up to date on new technology," Reed said of the Troy Democrat. "She is very aware of Idaho code and how that affects the treasurer's office."

Reed said she is almost envious of the office staff because employees are going to learn a great deal from Swanson.

Swanson said she has been coming to the courthouse several times a week since the beginning of December and almost every day since the start of January to learn her new job.

"I feel very fortunate," Swanson said. "I think I got the best job of any of the elected officials."

Assessor

Vaughan, 63, has served as the county assessor since he was appointed to the position in 2005.

He called his nearly 14 years in office a "tremendously positive experience."

Vaughan said he will miss the collaborative and supportive attitudes of his staff and fellow elected officials.

He said it was a job that constantly changed, from property assessment laws to real estate markets, so he was always forced to adapt. Vaughan said he was fortunate to have adapted to those changes in such a great work environment in the courthouse.

Vaughan said Wakefield, a Moscow Democrat, is an experienced appraiser and assessing market values is one of the central tasks of the assessor's office.

"He's going to earn his paycheck for sure," Vaughan said of Wakefield. "

Wakefield, a certified Idaho property tax appraiser, has almost 15 years of assessor's office experience, including 11 years at the Latah County office.

Wakefield said he attended an assessor conference last month and took assessor classes last week in Boise. He said there is a lot of information to absorb and the assessor's job will be a completely different role from his previous duties in the office.

Commissioner

Walser, 69, who has served the past six years as first district commissioner, said he has gained a deeper appreciation for Latah County and its residents.

"There's just some wonderful people here and (they) do great things that kind of flow below the radar for a lot of us," Walser said.

He expects LaFortune to do a fine job filling his position.

"She seems to me to be a good listener and very thoughtful, and those are all, I think, wonderful traits to have for anybody, and certainly as a commissioner," Walser said.

LaFortune, a Viola Democrat, said she has prepared for her new job by attending commissioner meetings.

"That to me is the best way to prepare - just to go ahead and basically live the day of a county commissioner," she said.

LaFortune said she plans to continue to keep the lines of communication open between residents and herself through her Facebook page and other avenues.

LaFortune gained advice along the way from the three sitting commissioners.

She said Commissioner Dave McGraw, a Troy Republican, told her to leave the "R" and "D" in the car before entering the courthouse.

"You leave that stuff in your car at the parking lot of the courthouse and when you walk through the door of the courthouse you do everything you can for the best (interests) of the citizens of Latah County," LaFortune said.

McGraw said Walser was instrumental in employee salary raises in recent years, sheriff's deputy retention and one of the key players in the opening of the Latah County Annex in Moscow.

"Dick's going to be able to look back on his career and say he accomplished a lot in Latah County," McGraw said.

He said LaFortune has a little different perspective than Walser and it will be nice to have fresh eyes and views.

"It will be an interesting next couple of years," McGraw said. "A lot of new faces, but I think it's going to be good. I'm excited."


Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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