Friday, February 24, 2006

Brady campaigning in friendly territory

Democrat gubernatorial candidate visits Ketchum

Express Staff Writer

Idaho gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brady, a Democrat, arrived in Ketchum Thursday for several days of campaigning.

In a meet-and-greet session at Tully's Coffee downtown, Brady spoke about his reasons for running again for the state's top office.

Brady also will be at Tully's today at 10 a.m.

Detailing his top three campaign issues during the session Thursday, Brady said matters related to the protection of public lands, the proposal by California-based Sempra Energy to build a coal-fired power plant in Jerome County and escalating homeowner property taxes are issues important to all Idahoans.

In particular, Brady highlighted the recent co-sponsorship by Rep. Butch Otter, R-Idaho, of a bill requiring the U.S. government to sell off large tracts of public land to raise money for hurricane relief. Otter, who also is seeking election to the governor's office, eventually dropped his support of the bill after hearing complaints from many of his constituents.

Brady said that bill, along with a more recent plan released by the Bush administration to sell up to 300,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land in 34 states as part of the fiscal year 2007 proposed budget, would take away valuable public lands from Idahoans. Despite the claims of supporters of those plans, he said many of the lands proposed for sale are not just isolated and difficult to manage.

Brady said many are important tracts of land used by Idaho residents. "Some of them are very valuable places."

Brady said he is pleased with the recent warning to the Idaho Legislature by Sempra Energy official Bruce McCulloch that the company will quit pursuing approval of their proposed coal-fired power plant if lawmakers fail to vote down certain proposed bills restricting the permitting of the plant.

"That would be a superb idea," Brady said. "I want them to walk."

The proposed power plant would not only pollute the environment, Brady said, but would also change the character of Jerome County and the surrounding region. For example, a burgeoning high-tech industry in Jerome County would be harmed if the power plant were approved.

"Sempra has nothing to offer us worth the cost," Brady said. "It's a big deal and I'm trying to spend a lot of time on it."

Achieving substantial property tax relief for Idahoans is another of Brady's top priorities. He said homeowner property taxes in Idaho are going up five times as fast as all other types of property taxes.

This means Idaho homeowners are bearing an unbalanced share of the state's property taxes, Brady said. "This has gotten out of control," he told his Ketchum audience.

Brady said that although the state Legislature is considering some property tax relief—most recently in the form of a $75,000 exemption for every homeowner, which he calls "an improvement"—it's not yet enough.

He said a more sizeable $100,000 exemption would help every Idaho resident, including those living in the Wood River Valley.

This is Brady's second attempt at seeking the office of Idaho governor. In 2002 he ran against incumbent Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, but ultimately lost after garnering only 42 percent of the vote.

Brady isn't the first person is his family interested in being the state's leader. His great-grandfather, James H. Brady, a Republican, was Idaho's eighth governor, from 1909-1911, and also represented Idaho in the U.S. Senate.

Brady said he will be campaigning throughout Idaho over the course of the next nine months and will be visiting every county and many small towns along the way.

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