Wednesday's final ballot counts marked both a stark victory and a clear failure in the Kootenai County races.
Residents voted overwhelmingly for Ben Wolfinger to take up the sheriff's badge, while they also shot down the proposal for an alternative form of county government.
Wolfinger easily took the four-way sheriff's race with 72 percent of the votes, or 39,707 votes.
Currently major at the sheriff's department, Wolfinger was pleased with the victory on Wednesday.
"The numbers turned out well," said Wolfinger, who has served in all of the agency's departments over the past 30 years. "We're looking forward to moving forward come January."
Wolfinger, who will serve a 4-year term as sheriff, has no plans to immediately tweak the agency of 300 employees, he said.
"I want to talk to a lot of the staff and have their input, and talk to the public and get their input, as well," the 51-year-old said. "I don't think we need to see a ton of changes, but we always need to look for ways to improve."
Independent sheriff candidate Bob Foster came in a distant second with 8,226 votes, or 15 percent of the vote. The other Independent candidates, Joe Bodman and Tom Dickson, respectively garnered 5.9 percent and 6.5 percent of the votes.
Foster couldn't predict on Wednesday if he would run again, but he was disappointed that a new face wasn't taking over at the sheriff's department.
"I wish I could've had a chance to demonstrate the kind of leadership I would've brought to the sheriff's department," Foster said. "I wish Ben Wolfinger lots of luck, and I sincerely hope he's successful."
Current Sheriff Rocky Watson is retiring this year.
The complete election results also showed that 67.8 percent of voters, or 34,877 voters, favored retaining the current form of county government.
Only 16,559 voted in favor of a ballot measure proposing a new county manager position and the appointment of four department heads who are currently elected.
"I think to some, change always raises concerns," said Commissioner Dan Green, who had been a strong proponent of the measure. "A lot of people were uneasy with change, or resistant to change."
Commissioner Todd Tondee was accepting of the voters' decision on Wednesday. The bottom line was for county residents to decide their county structure for themselves, he said.
"I'm disappointed, but I was proud we had it on the ballot," Tondee said.
He doesn't expect the commissioners will roll out another proposal to restructure county government, he added.
Not even to increase the number of commissioners, he said.
"I don't intend on pushing it out there," Tondee said. "I think this was the chance to do that, and it failed. The public, 67 percent, said they want to keep the government as it is today."
Assessor Mike McDowell, who had been an outspoken opponent of the ballot initiative and his office becoming unelected, said the results were gratifying to see.
"It basically sends a message that we need to work together, the commissioners and the elected officials," McDowell said. "And we can do that."