Wednesday, October 17, 2012

District 26 House race heats up

Miller, Remington vie for Wendy Jaquets seat

Express Staff Writer

The race to represent Seat A in District 26 was blown wide open last year when Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, announced that she would not run for another term in the Legislature.

Jaquet served nine terms in what is now District 26. Former Community School Athletic Administrator John Remington, a Democrat, and Camas County ranch owner Steve Miller, a Republican, filed to run for the seat and have been campaigning ever since.

Miller, owner of the Wolf Springs Ranch just over the Camas County line, said he and “running mate” Lee Barron—who is running against Rep. Donna Pence, D-Gooding, for her District 26 B seat—have put up more than 750 signs in Lincoln, Gooding, Camas and Blaine counties. Miller said he’s also been talking to businessmen in the district, trying to ascertain what the Legislature could do to help create jobs in the region.

“It’s important to talk to the businessmen,” he said. “A lot of businessmen are also community leaders. The businesspeople can really give you the scoop very quickly and very concisely. When you can figure out what their needs are, you get an idea of what you should be working on.”

Miller said he’s found that business owners are mostly concerned about state tax rates, and those who are in agriculture are concerned with water rights and Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

“There’s just a lot of stuff that I have not been able to learn or find out about yet,” he said, but added that he’s been listening to potential constituents and will study up on the issues that he’ll deal with if elected.

He said that if elected, he will work to amend the Luna education bills, known collectively as the “Students Come First” plan. 

Miller said he thinks the pay-for-performance bill might be unfair to teachers in schools that are already performing well. He said that as merit pay is based on student improvement, he’s concerned that teachers in good schools would not get the bonuses they deserve. However, he said the bills should mostly remain in place.

“It’s better to go forward than to go backward,” he said.

In contrast to the 750 signs for Miller across the district, Remington said he only printed 50—which might be why his name is not so prominently featured on the sides of state Highway 75. However, Remington has been campaigning since December 2011, and said he has chosen to do more knocking on doors than putting up signs.

“Signs don’t win elections,” he said, adding that he’s met with elected officials and school administrators in all four counties that make up his district.

Remington said he’s found that people want to have a close connection with their legislators—and they also want Jaquet to remain in her seat, a harder obstacle to overcome.

“They want to see a continuation of the representation that they’ve had,” he said with a laugh. “[But] Wendy is one of the foremost legislators of our time. No one expects me to be Wendy. People have realistic expectations about my experience.”

Remington said he thought he could best serve the district by following in Wendy’s footsteps and continuing to participate in the town hall meetings that the district’s three legislators—Jaquet, Pence and Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum—hold before, during and after the legislative sessions.

“There are really very few legislators that do that,” he said.

He said his experience working with school administrators across Southern Idaho would help him work with Republicans in the Legislature. 

As an administrator of a private school in Sun Valley competing athletically with public schools in Dietrich, Richfield and Gooding, Remington said he learned to work with people who did not always share his views.

Remington said that if elected, he would work with Republicans to remove the requirement for voters to register as a Republican before voting in that party’s primary election. He said he would also work with the state to implement affordable health care and allow all Idahoans access to affordable health insurance.

“I already know I can work with people who do not view things the same way I do,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with [legislators] across the aisle.”

Kate Wutz:

Pizza and Politics tonight

These two candidates, plus candidates for District 26 Seat B, Blaine County commissioner and Blaine County sheriff, will participate in the valley’s only nonpartisan election forum tonight, Oct. 17. The Idaho Mountain Express is hosting its annual Pizza and Politics event at 6:30 p.m. at the Wood River High School Commons in Hailey. Audience members are encouraged to bring questions, but questions must be able to be answered by all of the candidates in a particular race. Questions will also be asked by the press. The forum will be moderated by Idaho Mountain Express Editor Greg Foley.


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