Jones exits sheriff’s race, backs Norris

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MIKE PATRICK/Press Scott Jones takes a break from studying for his medical school admissions exam Wednesday morning at Calypsos Coffee Roasters in downtown Coeur d’Alene.

COEUR d’ALENE — Former federal prosecutor and U.S. Marine Scott Jones has dropped out of the race for Kootenai County sheriff to attend medical school at the University of Virginia.

Jones is endorsing fellow Republican sheriff’s candidate Bob Norris.

“He’s the most qualified candidate left in the race,” Jones, 44, said of Norris. “He’s effectively done that job before, [managing] contracts for the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.”

Of the other announced Republican contenders headed toward next May’s primary, Jones spoke highly of Kim Edmondson, a captain with the sheriff’s office.

“I really like Kim,” he said. “Every time I see her, it’s very clear that she keeps her campaigning separate from her job.” But Jones said the department clearly needed new leadership.

“There’s a lot of problems with the sheriff’s office, and I don’t think an insider is the answer,” he said.

Jones said fellow Republican candidate Richard Whitehead’s qualifications can’t compare to Norris’s.

“I don’t think Rick Whitehead has done anything that’s equivalent,” Jones said.

In an email Wednesday, Whitehead issued this statement:

“As the only candidate with the actual hands-on experience to address the issues facing Kootenai County and the Sheriff’s Office, I think the decision by Mr. Jones to withdraw is the correct one. I wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

Edmondson said Wednesday that she found Jones to be a nice man. She wished him great success in whatever he chooses to do next. “Hopefully, those people who were looking toward Scott for future sheriff will turn their attention to Kim Edmondson for sheriff,” she said.

Jones, a Hauser resident, served as a federal prosecutor with a focus on sex crimes against children. That helped him develop a deep appreciation for law enforcers, he said.

From 2003 to 2006, Jones was an active-duty Marine, service he continued in the reserves until 2010. That background played into his decision to drop out of the sheriff’s race.

In an email to friends and supporters, Jones cited the attraction of becoming a physician — something he had almost done two decades ago — as the primary reason he was changing course.

But there was a secondary reason, he wrote, pulling no punches.

“I can no longer pretend to be a Trump supporter,” Jones wrote. “Put aside his treatment of women, the damage he’s done to our international standing and his habitual lying. He’s a piece of **it draft-dodger. I thought the Iraq war was a mistake, but I signed up and went. Twice. He got his father to get some ... podiatrist to lie and say he had flat feet. He’s a coward. Let me say it again — he’s a coward.”

Norris appreciated Jones’s endorsement while making clear his own feelings toward the president.

“Scott Jones has a storied career as a Marine and prosecutor,” Norris said in a written statement to The Press. “I am a strong Trump supporter and I adamantly disagree with his opinion of President Trump. I do believe it is a telling statement that he sees me as the best candidate for Kootenai County Sheriff. Support like that from a prosecutor says a lot about me and my approach toward crime, while leaving one to question the qualifications of the other candidates. I wish him luck in his future endeavors.”

According to Kootenai County Clerk Jim Brannon, sheriff candidates can’t officially file until March 2 to March 13, 2020. However, he said Wednesday that five people had filed C1 forms — paperwork that must be completed before anyone can raise money for campaigning. They are Edmondson, Jones, Norris, Whitehead and John Grimm. All are Republicans.

Sheriff Ben Wolfinger announced in early 2018 that he would not seek another term, setting off a spirited competition almost three years before the next sheriff would actually take office. The sheriff’s salary is $86,996.

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