Commissioner Candidate Dale Gibboney: “No Chance of Commercial Operations at the Airport”

Dale Gibboney speaks about his candidacy for Kootenai County Commissioner in Post Falls, Idaho, on March 25, 2024.
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POST FALLS, Idaho – Aviator enthusiast and retired pilot Dale Gibboney is seeking the Republican nomination for Kootenai County Commissioner in District 1. Gibboney officially announced his candidacy at the beginning of February, and has been on the campaign trail ever since attending local gatherings, sharing his vision for the county, and securing endorsements from individual community members, as well as groups like the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Employee Association, the Coeur d’Alene Flyers, and the Fernan Rod and Gun Club.

In a home office full of aviation memorabilia, Gibboney sat down with the Kootenai Journal on March 25, to speak about his experience and how he will work to manage development so that the progression of what he saw destroy southern California will not take our community down the same path.

When asked how he found his way to North Idaho with his wife Terry five years ago, Gibboney explained that he had traveled to every state in the Union before settling on Idaho. Being a retiree, he was interested in protecting his retirement investments and initially looked into all the states with no income tax. According to Gibboney, he soon discovered that “you are going to pay that tax one way or another,” and took the advice of his retired law enforcement friends who warned him not to move to Washington.

“Had I known what North Idaho was like, I would have moved here right out of highschool,” quipped Gibboney. “It’s beautiful up here.” As a young man, Gibboney worked as a police officer in Los Angeles for 12 years before going into corporate aviation. He served his community as a reserve officer and was a pilot for Time Warner for 27 years.   

This is the first time Gibboney has campaigned for elected office. When asked what prompted him to run, he gave a little chuckle before sharing that it was his wife. As Gibboney puts it “she’s tired of hearing me complain” and basically said, “What are you going to do about it?” It got him thinking about how he could contribute and have a function to serve the community.

As growth is one of the top issues with county voters, Gibboney was asked to address his stance on the potential growth of facilities and services at the airport.

He started by acknowledging what everyone is concerned with – will the airport become a commercial operation? Gibboney doesn’t believe any major airline would agree to provide services due to the lack of population here. “I think it would be at least 20 years before there would be enough population here for anybody to even consider that because we have a commercial airport 30 minutes away.”

Gibboney graciously indulged the hypothetical scenario of placing us 20 years in the future and was asked how he would handle the consideration of airport expansion as a sitting commissioner at that time. “Well, number one, what do the people want?” he responded.

Explaining further, he said if enough people are hollering about the traffic-ridden interstate into Spokane to catch a commercial flight, it would be a driving factor in the decision making process. “You have to get the pulse of the community,” stated Gibboney. “What do they want?”

Even with community demand, he still isn’t sure an airline company would contemplate providing commercial services unless the population was 500,000 or higher, and how many of us would want to live here if the population rose to that level?

“Right now, there’s no chance that there’s going to be commercial operations going in and out of there,” asserted Gibboney. “What we need to do right now is protect the space around the airport so that it will be industrial growth … not residential.” 

Commissioners can do this kind of growth protection with the comprehensive plan by zoning the land as industrial growth only. “Part of this has already been done,” said Gibboney.

In response to a question about using eminent domain to expand needed infrastructure caused by growth, he said there are very few cases where it should be used, and gave the expansion of Interstate 90 as an example.

Gibboney believes the creation of urban renewal districts started as a good idea, but says it has been “hijacked.” Furthermore, he says the people have no representation on the taxing authority that urban renewal districts hold because the board members are appointed. “They aren’t accountable to the people, they weren’t elected to that position, and that is bad,” Gibboney stated. He said a truly “blighted, drug infested, falling down homes” area is an appropriate scenario for utilizing urban renewal funding, however, he believes the current use of “bulldozing areas” to build big box stores is wrong.

Gibboney says it is very important for the county commissioners, mayors, and councils to communicate and work together, especially in regards to comprehensive plans. “Let’s get our comprehensive plans together so that we know what we’re doing,” he stated. “That’s going to be the tough part, because right now Post Falls is going in one direction, Coeur d’Alene is going another direction, and Rathdrum and Hayden, they are all working on their own.” Gibboney believes all parties should sit down to get on the same page to figure out what this area is going to look like in the future.

He addressed one of the difficulties involved by highlighting the county’s request for impact fees that cities have refused to collect. Impact fees can only be collected for capital improvements, which means the item must last 10 years or longer. Gibboney said the cities haven’t cooperated with the county and that it may be necessary to get new laws passed to allow the county to directly collect impact fees from the developers.

When it comes to election integrity, Gibboney believes elections in Kootenai County are secure with paper ballots and voter identification. He has been through the elections department with Clerk Jennifer Locke and thoroughly reviewed the election procedures and machine tabulation. “The process of hand counting the ballots, I just don’t think that that’s a workable solution at this time,” he stated. “That has been tried before in a lot of counties, and they find there’s more mistakes in that.” He also mentioned the county struggles to find the 350-400 poll workers to conduct county wide elections, and since it’s estimated to take around 1,300 to hand count ballots, it would be hard to implement that change.

Addressing voters’ concerns of outside interference with machine tabulation, Gibboney believes Kootenai doesn’t have the issues other places may have. “I am convinced there’s no hocus pocus behind the scenes,” he stated. “Those machines are tested. They are tested with the same weight paper. They run sample ballots through.” He says all three commissioners are present to witness the test runs and that he has full faith in Clerk Locke. “I think she has integrity and I trust her and if there was anything that was going wrong, I think we would have hints about it.” 

Gibboney says his number one goal is to ensure public safety is completely funded. Because we have a high tourist industry that stresses public safety services, he would like to have those visitors help fund the increased demand on services by collecting a bed tax or resort fees. “They have the ability to call 911 and they can have the police, fire, ems … but they haven’t paid for any of that.” He says since they come here and enjoy our low crime rate while on vacation, there should be a way to have them contribute to the costs of the services they are being provided. However, this would require a change in state law, as any city with over 10,000 residents are prohibited from collecting resort fees or a bed tax.

Together with his wife Terry, he protested the sweeping closures and mask mandates that were initiated by government entities during the Covid ordeal in 2020. “What Panhandle Health did was not right,” stated Gibboney. “I don’t know that the liberals who bring about these policies have learned their lesson … they killed a lot of businesses, they killed a lot of jobs, during the shutdown.”

Gibboney says he is in favor of anything that gives back local control. He is pleased that the health district no longer has the power it once did to create mandates thanks to legislation that passed in the wake of its actions during Covid.

When asked why Republican primary voters should cast their ballot for him, Gibbony said, “Out of the candidates that are available, I’m probably the one who has the most experience. This election is a decision point for the county.” He said voters have a choice between going forward with people who will make decisions for the benefit of the community, or to go back to how things operated before.

The evening after the Kootenai Journal interviewed Dale Gibboney about his candidacy, the Republican central committee selected a series of recommended candidates in the May primary. While they gave another candidate the nod in this contest, Gibboney is committed to seeing the race play out through May 21. He provided the following statement:

“Brent Regan made his pick for the County Commissioner. Now, I am going to let the voters decide what is best for them. I still believe I am the best candidate for the job. I am going to continue my campaign for Kootenai County Commissioner. I have many supporters here in the community who believe in me and what I stand for. They know my character and I hope the voters will get to know and understand that I have integrity and only want what is best for the county and its citizens.”