challenges Stennett for Senate
first foray into state politics
Eight-year state Senator, including four years as state Senate Minority
Leader, and four years as a House member.
President, E-da-Ha Inc., which manages and operates Channel 13 and
Channel 14 in Sun Valley, Channel 43 in Twin Falls and Channel 13 in
McCall. Owns and operates a cattle ranch in Mackay. Founder of First
Bank of Idaho. Former owner of KSKI radio and the Wood River Journal
"The late Roberta McKercher taught me that everybody’s got to pay
rent while you’re here, pay rent for the space you take up. This forum
fits me. It suits me."
Six-year Gooding County commissioner, seven-year Bliss School Board
Cattle rancher, Certified Public Accountant
Why run: "To
improve the quality of education for all of our children, and to control
growth of state government."
Express Staff Writer
show time in South Central Idaho’s District 25, where Gooding County
Commissioner Tom Faulkner, R-Bliss, is facing off against state Sen.
Clint Stennett, D-Ketchum.
years, Stennett has represented Blaine, Camas, Lincoln and Gooding
counties as both a state representative and state senator.
is attempting his first foray into state politics, and is challenging
the local district’s history as a Democratic stronghold in a state
considered to be one of the most Republican in the nation.
interview last week, Stennett, a life-long Idahoan, said his
"effectiveness and responsiveness," which stem from his
experience, are the cornerstones of his campaign platform.
he and Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, who is running unopposed this fall,
"pride ourselves in using our access to facilitate action.
got a whole list of legislation I’ve gotten passed, but it all comes
down to responding to the people in this district," Stennett, 46,
44, was also born and raised in Idaho and in addition to serving two
terms as Gooding County Commissioner, is a cattle rancher, a certified
public accountant and chairman of the Bliss School Board. He said his
platform this fall advocates improved state education and more local
control for Idaho’s counties and cities.
served on the school board for seven years, I understand a lot of the
flexibility challenges these schools are facing," he said.
challenges, he elaborated, result from overly structured state budgets
that require spending to occur only on pre-approved budget items. If
elected, he said he would work to loosen schools’ budgets.
one of the key differences between Stennett and Faulkner is on
education, which both candidates said is a major part of their
platforms. Faulkner said last winter’s legislative education cuts were
necessary evils that were promulgated by years of extravagant state
growth and spending. Stennett said the cuts were a travesty that could
have been avoided had the state not approved record tax cuts in 2000.
with the state’s deteriorating economy while protecting the previous
year’s tax refunds, Gov. Dirk Kempthorne and the Republican majority
cut more than $64 million from last year’s budget and more than $100
million in basic spending from this year’s. The cuts included $23
million in state support for public schools and more than $30 million in
state support for colleges and other education programs.
really think we need to put the brakes on growing the state government,
so that it grows at the same rate that the rest of the economy
does," Faulkner said.
part, Stennett said the state’s education problems are directly
connected to economic woes.
we focus on education seriously, we’re going to remain a low-wage
state," Stennett said. "The only way to (turn Idaho’s
economy around) is to invest in public education and higher
their different opinions about last year’s cuts, both candidates said
they would absolutely not seek to cut education budgets further this
winter as a significant budget deficit looms.
address the pending budget deficit, Faulkner said the state could freeze
capital purchases and look at implementing an additional tax on beer. A
temporary sales tax on services might help, he said.
ideas were different. He proposed a multi-tiered approach that uses
increased sales taxes as a last resort. First, he proposed a taskforce,
not unlike Gov. Kempthorne’s, to examine government efficiencies. One
of the tasks of such a taskforce would be to look at Idaho’s large
variety of sales tax exemptions and to eliminate some of those.
he proposed restructuring the legislative budgeting process to
"have the germane committees review the appropriate budgets and
have the authority to at least make recommendations." As the
process is, a legislative committee considers recommendations from
various department heads to compile budgets.
else fails, he said, "we’re probably going to have to look at
some sales tax increases."
said the biggest difference between the two candidates is the
"R" next to his name. As a member of the majority party, he
said he would have the ability to accomplish more for the area.
think when you go into (closed) caucus, when it comes to major issues,
the caucus is where they’re decided," he said.
same token, Stennett argued that voters should elect a Democrat because
the Legislature lacks balance.
need balance in the Legislature, so people can hear both sides of the
story," he said.
said the Legislature already has balance.
do have a two-party system: liberal Republicans and conservative
Republicans," he said. "People in Idaho are just a little more
added that, if elected, he would not blindly vote along party lines and
go with the flow when behind the doors of the GOP’s closed caucus.
my votes have shown, I am not afraid to stand up for what I think is
right," he said.
who prides himself for accomplishments helping to impose state odor and
pollution regulations on dairies, said another difference between the
two candidates is Faulkner’s apparent leniency on air and water
pollution from dairies.
said his work on the state’s Odor Management Act, Nutrient Management
Act and county siting regulations, all of which he co-sponsored or
sponsored, show his commitment to limiting pollution caused by
ultimate goal is for the planning tools to help recognize when the land
has reached its capacity," Stennett said.
a life-long sportsman, said he is seeking reform for Idaho’s
"speak-with-one-voice" Fish and Game Commission. He said he is
an advocate for public access, farmland preservation and education.
said he is a strong supporter of private property rights, is "very
pro-environment" and against government growth.