Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Republican eyes Stennett’s seat

Jim Donoval sole GOP candidate for District 25 post

Express Staff Writer

Since moving to the Wood River Valley in 2008, Sun Valley resident Jim Donoval has quickly become a familiar face in local politics and is now looking to make an impact on the state level.

Donoval, 50, is the only Republican candidate for the District 25 Senate seat, which represents Blaine, Camas, Gooding and Lincoln counties.

In the general election, which takes place Nov. 2, Donoval will face off against Randall Patterson, a Constitution Party member from Carey, and the winner of the Democratic primary election, to be held on May 25. The three Democratic candidates are Hailey resident Robert Blakeley, Hagerman resident David Maestas and Ketchum resident Michelle Stennett, who is currently filling in for her husband, Sen. Clint Stennett, while he recovers from cancer.

Considering that Stennett has held the Senate seat for nearly two decades, Donoval could have a tough challenge in unseating one of the Democrat contestants.

However, he said in a news release that his party allegiance would be a benefit to the district given that the Republican Party has a solid hold on the Legislature.

"The obvious fact is that the Republican-controlled administration controls the state funding," Donoval stated. "[I] would have a much greater ability than a Democrat to have [my] message and the message of area residents regarding needed state services and funds heard loud and clear."

Donoval moved to the valley from Illinois when his wife, Sharon Hammer, was hired as the new Sun Valley city administrator. Prior to moving, he spent 15 years as a practicing attorney and has also worked as an accountant, including serving as assistant director of finance for Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Since his relocation, Donoval has become licensed as an Idaho attorney and worked as chief financial officer and legal counsel for a Ketchum-based real estate firm. He got involved in local politics in the beginning of 2009 when he came out against the proposal to merge the cities of Sun Valley and Ketchum.

Following that effort, Donoval was a vocal critic of a number of issues faced by the Ketchum City Council, including the use of affordable housing fees and the expenditure of funds raised by the city's Urban Renewal Agency through the capture of incremental property tax increases.

Donoval also has past political experience, having worked on local, state and federal election campaigns, including unsuccessfully running for the Illinois House of Representative in 1992 and serving on the Illinois Republican Platform Committee.

In his news release, Donoval said stagnation of the local economy is, in part, "due to some of the burdensome restrictions placed on local businesses and developers."

"[I have] pledged to work with local leaders to seek to repeal costly and time-consuming local mandates placed on businesses, which have made the economic recovery in the region too slow and painful a process," Donoval stated.

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