Friday, October 31, 2008

Questions and Answers: Idaho House District 25 Two-year term

1. Why are you best suited to represent the four counties of District 25?

2. What are your top three legislative priorities?

3. How does nuclear energy figure into Idaho's overall energy picture?

4. Should local government entities in Idaho be given more flexibility on local-option taxes?

Wendy Jaquet

Age: 64

Party: Democrat

Government Experience: First elected to the Idaho House of Representatives in 1994.

Occupation: State legislator

1. Connecting with my constituents has been a priority of mine since I was elected in 1994. I care deeply about the interests and concerns of the people I have had the pleasure of representing. By being available and accessible, I have demonstrated that I have the time, energy and interest to connect with you. Through numerous town meetings in all four counties I have had the opportunity to listen to your concerns and thoughts. In addition to responding to your calls I have written a weekly column and done a weekly radio interview to let you know what I am doing for you in the Idaho statehouse.

2. My top three legislative priorities are, 1.) Developing a budget that provides much-needed funding for quality education for all Idahoans and a budget that will ensure the completion of the Snake River adjudication, which will help to ensure that our water needs are met in the future; 2.) Ensuring that our infrastructure like roads and bridges are adequately funded without impacting taxpayers by working with the governor and Republican leadership; and 3.) Promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy like capturing methane from dairies while increasing economic development and job creation.

3. Idahoans value the remarkable natural resources in the state and energy development, including nuclear, should be done in a way to meet the needs of our growing population while protecting the reason people love Idaho. Nuclear is expensive to site and approvals are lengthy, so I don't see it playing a role in the immediate future. Waste disposal and terrorist concerns must be addressed before I can be supportive. The Idaho National Laboratory is one of Idaho's biggest employers and has the capacity to continue research on the next-stage nuclear as well as on renewable energy.

4. Yes. Ketchum, Sun Valley and Hailey have proven that the resort-cities-option tax has helped to offset rising property taxes and meet the needs of a tourism economy, such as increased essential public safety services like police and fire. I would support local-option taxes to address growing needs like transportation, bridges and public transportation. Local-option taxes give communities the ability to raise funds with voter approval to support local solutions without burdening other taxpayers who do not benefit from those services.

Jeff Faulkner

Age: 42

Government Experience: Served on the Idaho Cattle Association board since 2001; as the association's president from 2006 to 2007.

Occupation: Rancher

1. There are several reasons. One, there's been a lot of talk about change in this election, mainly in national politics. I think change is a good thing, and I think this is a perfect time for change in our district. I'm pretty well rounded. I understand the northern part of the district, and I really understand the southern portion. I'm also a Republican, which is an important part of the change my candidacy brings. Like it or not, Idaho is controlled by Republicans. Though Wendy and I don't disagree on everything, the fact that I'm a member of the party in power means I can get things done.

2. Water is very important to our district, both in Blaine County and down south. My wife has been an elementary teacher for 21 years, so education is very important to me. I understand there are differences between education in Blaine County and in the southern parts of District 25. The tax base is different. I'm also concerned about unchecked urbanization. In Blaine County it's urbanization versus wide-open spaces. Down south in this district it's urbanization versus agriculture. Blaine County residents can trust my views on this issue. I'm about local control. I'm about allowing the planning and zoning and county commissions to make decisions.

3. Experts are studying nuclear energy and making it safer all the time. Nuclear energy will play a role in our country's energy future. That being said, I know nobody wants to talk about it and nobody necessarily wants it. But if nuclear energy can be made safe, it has to be considered. I don't want to go out and immediately build four nuclear plants in our state, but it has to be an option. The rising costs of energy and food go hand in hand. Because of this, we need to look at all our options.

4. Yes. I think Idaho's cities and counties should be given more options. My opponent and I differ on how this should be accomplished. She wants to change the law. I don't agree with that because laws can be interpreted differently. I would rather give more flexibility to local entities by passing an amendment to Idaho's constitution that allows them to ask their voters to approve or deny a local-option tax. I think the taxpayers need to decide it and I think it needs to be fair to the taxpayers. But if the taxpayers pass it, I'm all for it.

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