Features

Electionland

A voter guide created by the people

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Electionland started as an experiment in democracy. And like democracy, it's been like herding cats. Using a highly interactive web portal developed by the guys at yousaidit.com, we offered BW readers the opportunity to pose questions directly to political candidates—no stuffy debate moderators, no lame "what's the last book you read?" questions. Just voters and candidates, mano a mano.

But the voters had precious few questions. Maybe that's why they still pay us the big bucks to come up with probing questions. Maybe Boise Weekly readers don't really care about the primary elections, during which party insiders sort out their dirty laundry prior to the real election in November. Maybe news consumers don't really want to be part of the news-gathering process, despite conventional wisdom in the biz.

In the end, you posed 48 questions to 28 candidates. With much goading, 22 of the candidates responded, with variable success rates browsing to a specified website, logging in and filling in fields obviously demarcated for their personal response.

In return for their cooperation, BW has designated each of the federal, statewide and county candidates with a specified number of teabags, the now classic symbol of our political era.

Here's the patented BW teabag rating scheme:

Candidates received one teabag for each of the following:

1. Not answering Electionland questions, thus spurning both voters and the liberal media.

2. Talking about the Founding Fathers, the Constitution or God too much.

3. Attending "official" Tea Party events.

4. Complaining that government services are socialist.

5. Getting an actual Tea Party endorsement.

6. Winning BW's teabagger bonus option.

And remember: Idaho's primary election is Tuesday, May 25. You can vote in either the Democratic or the Republican primary, but not both. For information, to request an absentee ballot or to find your polling place, visit idahovotes.gov.

GOVERNOR GOP

Walt Bayes

Age: 72

Occupation: Retired itinerant farm worker

Years in Idaho: No response

Blog I read this week: None

Best government service used this month: No response

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: No Response

Teabags: 4

Butch Otter

Age: 68

Occupation: Governor

Years in Idaho: 68

Blog I read this week: No response

Best government service used this month: No response

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: No response

Teabags: 3

Pete Peterson

Age: 59

Occupation: Retired systems analystand comedian

Years in Idaho: 59

Blog I read this week: None

Best government service used this month: The IRS, surprisingly. Every time I call, I always get a polite message about my tax refund not being ready yet.

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: Anything dealing with Mike Gwartney.

Teabags: 1

Rex Rammell

Age: 49

Occupation: Veterinarian

Years in Idaho: 49, lived in Japan and Kansas

Blog I read this week: Not really, Adam's Blog, Eye on Boise

Best government service used this month: I'm not happy with any of them.

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: ITD taking down campaign signs.

Teabags: 5

Sharon Ullman

Age: 46

Occupation: Full-time Ada County Commissioner

Years in Idaho: 20

Blog I read this week: None regularly, Boise Guardian, Adam's Blog, Richert, Citydesk, Eye on Boise, Huckleberries

Best government service used this month: Idaho State Tax Commission in providing tax forms for a prior year.

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: Idaho Racing Commission and their attitude.

Teabags: 3

Tamara Wells

Age: 29 on the left and 29 on the right

Occupation: Medical tricologist

Years in Idaho: 15, from California

Blog I read this week: None

Best government service used this month: None

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: None

Teabags: 4

How will you raise money to fund public education in Idaho?

Otter: There is no doubt that public education is the single most important and proper role of government under the Idaho Constitution, and it will be the first priority for "backfilling" with available tax dollars as our economy fully recovers. However, "more money" is not the only or even the best answer to improving public schools and higher education in Idaho. More efficiency, better governance, less administrative overhead, more local flexibility, more parental involvement, more community support, more awareness of the crucial role that education plays in our economy ...

Peterson: Education has been cut to the bone. Now we are starting to amputate. Both Butch's office and Tom Luna's are top-heavy with highly paid administrators (as is the Boise School District). Get rid of them. We need more grunts and fewer generals. I have heard that Idaho has more school districts than Montana, Wyoming and Utah combined. If true, we need to consolidate districts. We also need to study school districts (like the Meridian School District) and see how they do a better job for less money.

Rammell: By cutting taxes! When our tax burden is too high, the economy will be suppressed and tax revenue will be low. By decreasing the tax burden, businesses will generate more taxable money. An economic paradox, cutting taxes when taxes are suppressive will actually bring in more tax revenue at the lower rate than the higher rate. This was done by Coolidge in the '20s, JFK in the '60s, Reagan in the '80s, and Bush after 911. It will also work for Idaho. The problem is it is not instantaneous. It will take 2 to 3 years. Therefore, we have to do some creative financing along with some spending cuts. I propose eliminating most of the State Department of Education and giving complete control to the parents and teachers ...

Ullman: As far as education spending, there are ways in which to make less money go further. For example, we need to raise the standards for students to gain entry into our state's four-year university program. There is no place for remedial classes there, either. Higher standards will lead to smaller incoming classes and a significantly lower drop-out rate. For those students who need to hone their skills for a year or two before attending a four-year college, there is now a healthy community-college system accessible in most of the state ...

Wells: I think a lot has to change. What are the schools going to do to raise money? Why are they always looking to the taxpayer to raise money? People are really involved in their children and they feel like they are not asked enough. We've got too many chiefs and not enough indians in the administration end. That's the main problem in education: the administration we have. I would revamp the Board of Education.

GOVERNOR DEMOCRAT

Keith Allred

Age: 45

Occupation: Mediator and presidentof The Common Interest

Years in Idaho: 45

Blog I read this week: Eye on Boise

Best government service used this month: Public schools

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: Special interest influence in state government.

Teabags: 1

Lee Chaney

Age: 57

Occupation: Recycler

Years in Idaho: About 20 years, from Oregon

Blog I read this week: None

Best government service used this month: Social Security

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: Complaints about his signs from cities.

Teabags: 3

Do you think Idaho colleges and universities could compete with other states' colleges and universities? Why or why not.

Allred: The only responsible answer is yes. But we've got to recognize the important role that higher education--including our universities, community colleges and technical training facilities--provides in Idaho.

Idaho's founders understood that a thorough, effective education for our people is absolutely essential. As Idaho's Constitution explains, "the stability of a republican form of government" depends "mainly upon the intelligence of the people."

Only an educated workforce will attract the businesses that can grow Idaho's economy and sustain it through economic downturns. And only a robust higher education system will create that workforce.

Only then will we truly be in a position to compete with other states, whether it's on the ball field, the classroom, or in the strength and vibrancy of our economy.

Chaney: Competing athletically. Yes, this builds moral and competitive spirit. Scholastically, it helps the college to keep up with changes.

US SENATE GOP

Mike Crapo

Age: 59

Occupation: Attorney

Years in Idaho: 59

Blog I read this week: Blog clipping service

Best government service used this month: Found out that Bonneville DMV allows early renewal of licenses.

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: Behavior of the U.S. Congress.

Teabags: 3

Claude "Skip" Davis III

Age: 64

Occupation: Realtor

Years in Idaho: 33 years, from Pennsylvania

Blog I read this week: None

Best government service used this month: Wieser Post Office is phenomenal.

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: None

Teabags: 1

Do you share the belief that crude oil speculation is partly responsible for volatile retail gasoline prices? Do you deem it necessary to rein in irresponsible speculation to prevent further damage to our already weakened economy? If so, what measures would you propose?

Davis: Due to the nature of the beast, speculation is a product of our capitalistic society. As long as commodities are needed, speculators will always be there to get their share of the pie, or perhaps lose it. I know of no real way to try to regulate speculation, irresponsible or not, but as a consumer, we all have the ability to do our own thing to help reduce the impact of sky-high gas prices. In the summer of 2008, gas prices were above $4 per gallon. I made a personal pact to NOT drive my vehicle one day each week, and I stuck to it. Being a Realtor, I depend on my vehicle to conduct a large portion of my business. As an independent businessman, I am able to time manage my business to accommodate this type of change. It caused no problem with my client base, and I was able to continue that practice until gas dropped below $3.50 per gallon. Collectively, can you imagine the impact on the oil industry and gas prices in particular if we all practiced this form of conservation? ...

Crapo: No Response

US SENATE DEMOCRAT

William Bryk

Age: 55

Occupation: Lawyer

Years in Idaho: 0

Blog I read this week: Made a brief post this week

Best government service used this month:Public transportation

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: Dealing with private health insurer for prescriptions.

Teabags: 0

Tom Sullivan

Age: 42

Occupation: Small business owner: merchant processing company, industrial park and small newspaper in Driggs

Years in Idaho: Off and on since 1980

Blog I read this week: None

Best government service used this month: Helped sign Mom up for Social Security. Did the whole application online, and it was "painfully easy."

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: Dealing with Citibank Mortgage over a billing mistake.

Teabags: 1

Neither of you has run for office before. Why now?

Bryk: I have run for office before. It's always appropriate for citizens to offer themselves at the polls to serve the community and offer their opinions on public questions. Campaigns aren't mere horse races: They're the public forum through which we thrash out, however messily, the issues of the day ... I chose to contest this seat in 2010 in large part because the Idaho Democratic party organization failed to enter a candidate at the last election in 2004 ... At least this time, there will be a contest in November.

Sullivan: I am running for United States Senate because I have two children: a daughter aged 13 and a son aged 10. As an American, I have been fortunate to grow up in a country that provides endless opportunity to anyone who is willing to educate themselves and work hard. I would like to guarantee that same opportunity to my children.

I am running now because it has never been more important for able candidates to challenge incumbents and the status quo.

US CONGRESS DISTRICT 1 GOP

Harley Brown

Age: 55

Occupation: Retired U.S. Navy officer

Years in Idaho: 20

Blog I read this week: Not that computer literate

Best government service used this month: We haven't been attacked militarily across the border from Mexico or any other foreign power.

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: I paid my taxes the other day.

Teabags: 4

Raul Labrador

Age: 42

Occupation: Lawyer

Years in Idaho: 14 years

Blog I read this week: Idaho Conservative Blogger,Adam's Blog, Eye on Boise, Treasured Valley

Best government service used this month: I think we have great roads.

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: I don't deal with the government much.

Teabags: 3

Vaughn Ward

Age: 41

Occupation: Lt. Col. (select) in U.S. Marine Corps, active reserves

Years in Idaho: No response

Blog I read this week: None

Best government service used this month: No response

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: No response

Teabags: 3

What is the difference between your Republican values and Rep. Walt Minnick's?

Minnick, a Democrat, has voted with Republicans on many of the key Democratic reforms in the last year. What would distinguish your tenure, partywise?

Brown: WALT MINNICK VOTED FOR THAT DOMESTIC ENEMY TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AND DOMESTIC ENEMY TO THE COUNTRY WE'RE SWORN TO DEFEND: NANCY [ COMMIE } PELOSI AS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE. I AM NOT LIKE THIS UNPATRIOTIC PERSON NAMED WALT MINNICK. TO MINNICK : I HOPE YOU READ THIS, "COMRADE"!

Labrador: The people of Idaho are conservative by nature. Walt Minnick claims that he shares many of our conservative values. However, his 2009 American Conservative Union score is 44 percent. In addition, Rep. Minnick supported the interests of NARAL Pro-Choice America 100 percent in 2009. He also voted to increase the estate tax and other taxes ...

Ward: Minnick voted with Republicans only when Pelosi didn't need him. On critical votes, like bringing back the estate tax, also known as the death tax, Minnick voted with Pelosi and it passed by one vote. Minnick also voted for Nancy Pelosi as speaker and for taxpayer-funded abortion. While he did vote no on the health-care bill, he refused to work with the Republicans on their health-care plan ...

US CONGRESS DISTRICT 2 GOP

Katherine Burton

Age: 52

Occupation: Works at veterinary office

Years in Idaho: 11

Blog I read this week: My own

Best government service used this month: Got answers from the IRS.

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: Nothing recent

Teabags: 1

Chick Heileson

Age: 64

Occupation: Retired builder/developer/HVAC contractor

Years in Idaho: 64 years

Blog I read this week: No. Not this week. Adventures of Charlie and Jane.

Best government service used this month: I'm not into government service. Idaho's got some of the best roads in the country.

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: I try to stay away from 'em.

Teabags: 5

Russ Mathews

Age: No response

Occupation: No response

Years in Idaho: No response

Blog I read this week: No response

Best government service used this month: No response

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: No response

Teabags: 4

Mike Simpson

Age: 59

Occupation: Dentist

Years in Idaho: 59

Blog I read this week: No response

Best government service used this month: No response

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: No response

Teabags: 3

What is your plan for the 13 million jobs that have been lost since December 2007?

The White House and Congress seem completely oblivious to the job crisis our country is facing.

Burton: The jobs loss has been tragic and devastating but it also presents an opportunity for doing things differently in the American economy. A recent study shows that we have reached peak oil and an oil 'crunch' is inevitable within the near future. Considering the amount of products used on a daily basis that contain petroleum, we would be wise to move a portion of our economy to new technologies, energies and materials. America's economic recovery needs to include research, eduction and training in order to create and sustain a robust and diverse economy. To this end, I would support legislation that creates jobs that look toward a strong American economy ...

Simpson: I don't believe the answer to creating jobs is to continue spending money we don't have. Instead, I would prefer to see tax cuts targeted at the small businesses, which create most of the new jobs in our economy. By giving small businesses a tax break, they will be better positioned to expand their operations, bring on new employees, generate more income and ultimately create more revenue for the federal treasury, which helps balance the budget. Big government stimulus packages like that passed by the Democrats in Congress certainly create jobs in the near term, but that level of excessive spending hinders our economy over the long term ...

Heileson: We need to put a stop to debt and currency-supply expansion by the Federal Reserve, relieve the vast number of federal regulations placed upon the market, rescind international trade agreements that give an unfair advantage to our foreign competitors (which results in American businesses moving out of the country or hiring foreign workers), and allow for competing currencies (e.g. gold and silver) rather than requiring the use of Federal Reserve notes ...

Ada County Commission 2

Roger Simmons

Age: 65

Occupation: Semi-retired media consultant and lobbyist

Years in Idaho: 34 years

Blog I read this week: None

Best government service used this month: Ada County Elections

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: Can't think of one.

Teabags: 0

Rick Yzaguirre

Age: 60

Occupation: County commissioner, grocer

Years in Idaho: 60 years, a few in Alaska

Blog I read this week: None, Statesman once in a while, BW or Guardian

Best government service used this month: Renewed dog license with City of Eagle.

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: Getting driver's license renewed.

Teabags: 1

What is the ideal relationship between county government and the local governmentsit surrounds?

Simmons: In short, it should be a symbiotic relationship where all entities work together to enhance services for all taxpayers living inside the county borders ... Unfortunately, based on the discussions I have had recently with some other elected officials, those relationships have deteriorated over the past six or seven years.

Yzaguirre: We have a good working relationship with other government entities and work toward mutual solutions for the greater good. We each have a role in coming together to address tough issues and there is regional cooperation. I believe we must build consensus ...

LT. GOVERNOR GOP

Joshua Blessinger

Age: 31

Occupation: Student, video production and editing, honorable discharge from Marines

Years in Idaho: 31

Blog I read this week: Not usually, they are very left-leaning.

Best government service used this month: Education, on a field trip with daughter's class.

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: Nothing recent

Teabags: 1

Brad Little

Age: 56

Occupation: Rancher

Years in Idaho: No response

Blog I read this week: No response

Best government service used this month: No response

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: No response

Teabags: 2

Steve Pankey

Age: 58

Occupation: Real estate investor, owns properties

Years in Idaho: 24 years

Blog I read this week: None

Best government service used this month: Going to the Post Office in Shoshone.

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: None

Teabags: 2

Would the lieutenant governor have the responsibility of appointing a much needed oversight committee for Idaho's appellate public defenders office?

Blessinger: To my knowledge and research, the responsibility to appoint such a committee would fall on the Governor's Office or the state attorney general. The governor may delegate this authority to the lieutenant governor, at which time I would appoint a committee that would ensure that the rights of the accused and the rights of any applicable victims are upheld.

I do agree with you that the office does need oversight, directly or indirectly. I was formerly a correctional officer at the Idaho Correctional Center and saw many inmate files that, under a competently overseen appellate public defender, should have been overturned. I also saw a great number of honest and good men who just made a big mistake, but still deserved the time they were serving given the nature of their crime.

To put it short, If it is made my responsibility, I will do my best to put the right individuals in place to make the Appellate Public Defenders Office run as efficiently and correctly as possible.

Pankey: The lieutenant governor would most likely play a major role in creating the oversight committee, appointing qualified people, agenda and goals. An effective oversight committee is needed. The Idaho Judicial Counsel is an old-boy club that rubber-stamps arbitrary judicial decisions leading to taxpayer supported appeals. The Idaho State Bar rarely takes action against incompetent and/or corrupt attorneys--also leading to taxpayer supported appeals.

Idaho's state courts are divided into two areas: civil and criminal. Idaho's major routine civil litigant is Action Collection. Action Collection has undue influence in civil Magistrate Courts, District Courts, Idaho Court of Appeals, and the Idaho Supreme Court. Voters have the right to not retain biased magistrates, district judges, and Supreme Court judges. Your vote not to retain biased judges is the only current check and balance on the appellate process. If Idaho director of finance Gavin M. Gee had the guts to regulate Action Collection according to law, there would be more taxpayer resources to deal with problems in the Idaho appellate public defenders office. In short, appellate problems are multifaceted ...

Ada County Commission 3

Vern Bisterfeldt

Age: 71

Occupation: Retired Boise police captain

Years in Idaho: 51

Blog I read this week: Boise Guardian, for the first time

Best government service used this month: Boise City Council buying Hammer Flat.

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month: Mixed feelings on F-35 and Boise streetcar.

Teabags: 0

Fred Tilman

Age: 64

Occupation: Retired U.S. West management, Ada County commissioner

Years in Idaho: 64

Blog I read this week: None

Best government service used this month: Opening of the Detox Center

Worst bureaucratic bungle this month:None

Teabags: 1

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