Stark differences have emerged in the “other” District 26 Representative race. Though the fight over Rep. Wendy Jaquet’s seat has drawn interest because of its lack of an incumbent, the battle for Seat B has brought out perhaps the starkest differences among candidates this year.
Incumbent Rep. Donna Pence, D-Gooding, has served four terms in the Legislature. Her opponent, Corral resident Lee Barron, said he has no experience in the Legislature—but he does have strongly held political beliefs.
Barron said that in his door-to-door campaigning, he’s found that most voters in the district want someone who can stand up against the federal government, especially on the issue of the Affordable Care Act.
“The people I’ve been talking to are very interested in doing something about Obamacare,” he said. “That seems to be the foremost in people’s minds.”
Barron said many of the voters he’s talked to do not want the act implemented, and he said the state shouldn’t have to work with the federal government on this issue.
“The federal government was formed by the states, and we have forgotten that,” he said. “The people of the state of Idaho have to start making a stand about whether we will allow these things to happen. We’re about to lose our freedom.”
But Pence said that of the people she has spoken with, voter concerns seem to be a little closer to home.
“They would like a clone to Wendy Jaquet, but I don’t think there is another one!” Pence said with a laugh. “[Voters] would like someone who is willing to work really hard. I think they’re looking for someone who can promote the whole district—whether it’s tourism or education, just looking out for the district.”
Pence said that despite the fact that she lives in Gooding, she’s made an effort to understand the issues concerning Blaine County.
“I take [it] very seriously,” she said. “I’ve acquainted myself with various industries and interests that are up there. We try to keep ourselves versed in all aspects of the district.”
Barron said that he, too, would be able to represent the district well. He grew up in Corral, a town about 10 miles west of Fairfield, but spent a lot of time in the larger region.
“I can represent Blaine County or Camas or Gooding as well as anyone else,” he said. “There are people who are really proud of having been in Sun Valley since 1980, 1970. I’ve been going to Sun Valley since 1939. I can ask hundreds of people up there where Corral is, and no one can tell me.”
But though Barron said he could represent the entire district, he said the concept of legislative districts is flawed and results in gerrymandering. He said that if elected, he would fight to amend the Idaho Constitution so that the state’s 44 counties would each have one state senator and at least one representative, based on the county’s population.
“Wouldn’t it be better if Blaine County had its own senator and representative?” he asked. “Idaho could not be any more gerrymandered. It’s disgusting.”
Pence said that if she were elected, she would like to introduce a jobs bill and agricultural tax credits, as well as encouraging the development of a slaughterhouse in the district.
“If we can get that, we’d save money for our [beef] producers and create jobs,” she said.
Both candidates said they would continue to knock on doors and talk to voters before Election Day on Nov. 6. Pence said she prefers to knock on doors over any other method.
“You always get your signs up and everything like that, but one-on-one contact is the best thing I have ever come across,” she said. “I get into good conversations, I get an idea of what people want to see [in the Legislature].”
Barron said he, too, enjoys one-on-one contact, going to fairs and parades and speaking with attendees there. In the final press, he said, he plans to step up his door-knocking.
“I’ve already been doing it,” he said. “But it’s going to get more intense.”
Kate Wutz: firstname.lastname@example.org
Party headquarters open in Hailey
The Blaine County Democrats and the Blaine County Republicans have opened election headquarters in Hailey in preparation for Election Day. The Blaine County Republican headquarters is open at 400 N. Main St. It will be staffed from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays through Nov. 6. The Blaine County Democrats’ headquarters is at 6 West Carbonate, behind Big Belly Deli. It is staffed from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. seven days a week. Blaine County Democrats Chair Gini Ballou said county residents can stop by to pick up yard signs and bumper stickers or to get more information on the upcoming election. Election Day is Nov. 6.