POST FALLS - Ron Jacobson is going from filling in for Post Falls Mayor Clay Larkin to replacing him.
Jacobson, who as city council president has occasionally served as acting mayor for Larkin, was elected mayor on Tuesday over Kerri Thoreson by a margin that surprised many election observers. In addition to serving on the council, both candidates have a long list of community service.
Jacobson had 1,365 votes to Thoreson's 909.
At an election party at Red Lion Templin's Hotel, Jacobson said he started to feel better about his chances of being elected after the early results were posted.
"I like the indicator," he said.
Jacobson has served on the city council for the past 14 years. He has worked in the banking industry for 35 years, including the past 13 as a senior vice president for Inland Northwest Bank.
"I believed that I was the most qualified candidate overall," he said. "You can be involved in the community, but that doesn't mean you're the best qualified candidate to be mayor."
The 77-year-old Larkin, who at 13 years has served longer than any of Post Falls' previous 35 mayors, decided to not seek re-election.
When Larkin opted in July not to run (after he originally announced last spring that he would), both Jacobson and Thoreson formally announced they would seek the part-time job. With Larkin's decision came his endorsement of Jacobson to replace him.
"I couldn't be happier," Larkin said at the party. "He'll take the city to the next level."
Jacobson believes Larkin's endorsement helped give him a "huge" boost.
"He truly has had the best interests of the city at heart," Jacobson said of Larkin. "I had people say, 'If this man supports you, that's good enough for us.'"
Thoreson, a semi-retired independent writer and photographer who has been on the city council since 2008, lost to Larkin for the mayoral position in 2001. She will continue to serve on the council for another two years.
Thoreson intended to become the first female mayor in the history of Post Falls. The only other female to run for mayor was Hilde Kellogg in 1979.
Thoreson said her run for mayor was "more intense" than her two races for council. She said she's proud that she gave the run her all.
"I personally knocked on nearly 1,000 homes over the last month, and I've learned so much about people's concerns," she said. "That experience will serve me well."
Jacobson said he wanted to run an "above board" campaign from the start.
"Throughout my campaign I tried to promote my qualifications and goals," he said. "I identified my goals, and I thought that would give me an edge."
Jacobson reported $10,148 in contributions through Oct. 20, while Thoreson had $4,124.
Jacobson said he has served silently and believed his banking/financial background would pull him through, particularly since most candidates stumped for business recruitment to ease the tax burden on residents.
"When you're on the Jobs Plus board (as Jacobson once was as a council member), you represent the client and not the city," Jacobson said. "But, as mayor, you can help sell the city to clients."
Jacobson said he would retain his bank job and cut back on serving in the community if need be. He said his availability wouldn't be a problem, as Larkin was the first to admit he had spent more time at City Hall than he needed to.
Jacobson said that he wouldn't have run against Larkin, but it wasn't a tough decision to run for mayor.
"When I found out that Clay wasn't going to run and people started to ask me about running (for mayor) it was an easy decision," said Jacobson.