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Final Candidate Forum

The Adams County Record of Council, Idaho

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The third and final forum for citizens to meet and question the people for whom they will be voting took place at Council's Elementary School last Thursday night. The event was well attended by citizens interested in their choices for the Primary election on May 15.

Legislative District 9, of which Adams County is a part, has two positions for the House Representatives up for election/reelection this time around. The two are designated as Position A and Position B.

On the Republican ticket for Position A, incumbent Lawerence Denney is running unopposed, but will face Democrat Steve Worthley in the general election. Both were present at the forum.

Position B on the Republican ticket is the real horse race, with four contenders, only one of which will survive the Primary: Judy Boyle (incumbent), Jeri Soulier, Kendall Nelson-Jeffs and Daniel S. Weston. All but Weston were present at the forum. Independent, Mary Sue Roach was not present and will not appear on the Primary ballot, but will be a contender in the general election.

Republicans will choose between Matthew Faulks and incumbent Monty Pearce for State Senator, while on the Democratic side, Alma Hasse is running as a write-in Candidate. Hasse first registered as a candidate for Representative, but decided she could be more effective in the Senate. Those voting on the Democratic Primary ballot will need to write "Alma Hasse" in the blank under "For State Senator" in order for her to get on the general election ballot. Hasse emphasized the importance of spelling her name correctly. Faulks, Pearce and Hasse all answered questions at the forum.

State Candidates

As I've said before, it would be impossible to list all of the questions asked and answered at the forum. Here are a few highlights.

The issue of NRA endorsement came up, and all of the state candidates expressed support for gun rights. The National Rifle Association sends out a complex questionnaire requiring essay-type answers, and then rates candidates according to their answers. All of the incumbents received A+ ratings, and challengers explained why they are somewhat taken aback at their less than perfect ratings in light of their long histories of support for gun rights and hunting.

The state candidates were asked about the recent law that seems to take away local control in regulating oil and gas drilling. The question also addressed "fracking" and the use of unknown chemicals in that process. Lawerence Denney spoke first, saying the statements made about the dangers of gas drilling are false. He said there are over a million gas and oil wells in the U.S. and very few problems with them. As to local control, he said, "As far as taking local control, I think we can work with our local elected officials. I don't think we're taking any control away from them at all. The complexity of the issue is something that I don't think a local government would want to deal with because they don't necessarily have the expertise, nor can they afford to hire the expertise to make decisions that could get them in a lawsuit if they make the wrong decision. None of us want to hurt the environment. We all want to protect it, and I think we can do that.

All the candidates said it's important to create jobs.

Steve Worthley pointed out that even though, as Monty Pearce had said, it takes seven years to get approval to open a gold mine, we are still cleaning up after such mines, in some cases, half a century later. "I don't think there's anything wrong with taking the time to make sure that the most precious commodity in Idaho—pure fresh water— is protected." he said. "And if it takes a little bit longer, so be it. If you get out in front of these kinds of issues, you can prevent them from happening or you can assign responsibility and go after the culprits if it happens. And it has happened before."

Judy Boyle said that regulation of natural resources are the prevue of the state, adding: "That way there are not different standards in different counties. Although this is a new industry to us, it is not new to America. We will be the 45th state to have natural gas."

Monty Pearce, who was accused (and found innocent) of ethics violations for not revealing his conflict of interest on this subject earlier in the process, said, "Montana has 6,600 natural gas wells, and no problems. They've had them for years. Utah's got them and they're building new schools now because of the tax that come in from them." He said the gas and oil companies coming to Idaho expect to spend $100 million here. He explained that the legislators investigated what the 44 other states have done and the mistakes they made to create Idaho's regulations. He said fracking was not a needed method in Idaho because the deep layers where the gas lies is composed of sand instead of the type of rock that requires fracking. "Idaho is one of the most heavily regulated states for drilling wells," he assured the audience. "It takes two days in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and some of those places to go drill a well; in Idaho it's at least 21 to 25 days, and that's long.enough to take a look at it."

Jeri Soulier outlined some of the ways that local control is better that state control because of local knowledge of complicating factors. "I think that it's wise to have the local citizens who know where there are high water tables, seasonal flooding, hand-dug wells with no record of it," she explained. Soulier said the state doesn't have records of such things before the early 1990s.

Matthew Faulks reiterated the view that jobs from gas drilling are important, and that environmental concerns need to be carefully monitored. He didn't know of any regulation barring fracking if it becomes necessary. He stated, "I don't know the reason why we can't reserve our ordinary land use and planning and zoning with our local authorities; I think that's important."

Alma Hasse said everyone in the room wants jobs and clean water, and "If the two of them can coexist, that's fantastic." She expressed passionately that, "What happened with 464 [the gas drilling regulation bill in question] was a total stripping of local control. I think those things are best left in the hands of local decision makers."

Kendall Nelson-Jeffs agreed with Hasse, saying, "The terrible cost of this type of energy is long-reaching.

Both candidates for Adams County Prosecuting Attorney were present: Michael Robinson and Myron Gabbert. Both assessor candidates were also there: Robin James and Stacy Swift Dreyer.

The contest for assessor involves one candidate, Robin James, who is currently occupying that office and has had on-the-job experience. Her opponent, Stacy Swift Dreyer, was asked what experience she had to be a good candidate for the assessor job. Dreyer pointed out her years of experience as an assistant bank manager. In that position she learned to deal with federal requirements and work with figures and finance. She emphasized the importance of her experience of providing courteous customer service. "My first priority is that I work for you, that I'm doing what's best for you," she said.

Robin James outlined her ten years of experience in the Assessor's Office performing such duties as chief appraiser. She has represented the taxpayers at the county level, but also represented the county at the state level, and is familiar with state personnel and other assessors in the state. She said her work speaks for itself.

Both the county prosecuting attorney and the assessor will be determined in the Primary elections, as all of these candidates are running on the Republican ticket.

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Original Publication Date: May 9, 2012

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