Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Express primary election endorsements

Voters in the May 25 primary election will decide a Hailey bond issue and elect a 5th District judge. Here are our recommendations on these and on candidates running in contested races.

Hailey rodeo site development, vote "yes": Hailey voters will decide a $3.5 million bond issue to develop the rodeo grounds with a new rodeo arena, covered ice rink, expanded skateboard park and visitors center. The bond would cover about 50 percent of the total estimated cost of $6 million-$7 million. Private donations would make up the rest.

Homeowners would pay an additional $33 per $100,000 of assessed valuation for 10 years. Development would employ some idled construction workers in a homegrown economic stimulus project.

It also would create a place for large-scale events that would bolster Hailey's appeal to visitors and build business.

The city has said it does not plan to use additional taxpayer dollars to maintain the project over time. It is imperative that an appropriate management plan be put in place to ensure that that's the case.

Voters who believe Hailey should offer more recreation and expand its tourism business should support the bond.

Nonpartisan Races

For Supreme Court justice, Roger Burdick: The wide-ranging legal experience of this judge really makes him unassailable. Second District Judge John Bradbury, who is challenging him, says the court should make the state's legal system respond faster and cost less to open it up to people of all income levels. That's true. But Burdick's experience as a prosecutor, magistrate and as presiding judge in the Snake River Basin water case is needed on the court.

For 5th District judge, Robert Elgee: Incumbent Judge Robert Elgee is being challenged by Doug Werth, a former Blaine County prosecuting attorney and former Idaho deputy attorney general.

Elgee has served for six years and was a magistrate for 12 years. He has a thoughtful and sensible record of decisions. That's not to say his decisions have given everyone what they wanted, or that none were overturned or controversial.

The community's respect for the judge, his demeanor, his decisions and willingness to tackle tough cases runs deep. He has garnered support from a wide spectrum of attorneys who represent clients from banks to bank robbers in his court. That speaks volumes about his ability to deliver fairness and justice.

Democratic Primary

For U.S. senator, P. Tom Sullivan: An up-by-the-bootstraps businessman, Sullivan is running against a New York attorney who has never been to Idaho and is running because the law says he can. For this race, the money is on the home-state pick, who visited this area recently. He said he wants to give people a choice other than the Republican incumbent in November. Democrats should second that notion.

For governor, Keith Allred: Idaho native, cowboy and Harvard professor, Allred is the real deal and should post a strong challenge in November. He brings a practiced background in conflict resolution and leadership in a statewide think tank that resulted in sensible and successful legislative tax initiatives. He opposes cuts to school funding, preferring to look at tax revisions.

For state senator, District 25, Michelle Stennett: During the winter's legislative session, Michelle Stennett served ably as a full-time substitute for her husband, Clint, who was hobbled by brain cancer treatments. She is a quick study and understands legislative dynamics and how decisions in Boise affect people in District 25. She earned the confidence of constituents and deserves the chance to claim the seat as her own in November.

Republican Primary

For U.S. senator, Mike Crapo: Going for his third term, Crapo is the strong and obvious choice. Frugal and hewing to the party line, Crapo has carefully picked issues to appeal to his district, including returning Amtrak train service to the state, funding the Idaho National Laboratory, getting the delicately negotiated Owyhee Canyonlands wilderness areas approved and opposing health care reform.

For U.S. representative, Mike Simpson: Looking for re-election after 14 years, Simpson is also the obvious choice in a field of four candidates. He's a deficit hawk, but voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program that bailed out banks at the height of the 2008 financial panic. He opposed Democrats' health care reform as too expensive. He supports nuclear energy and authored a wilderness bill for the Boulder and White Cloud mountains.

For governor, Butch Otter: Running for a second term, this former three-term congressman is the moderate in a field of four candidates. He walks the small government walk, approved major cuts in education and services because of weak tax revenues and did not look to increase taxes.

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