Republican Dale Ewersen, who is challenging Democratic incumbent Michelle Stennett for the District 26 seat in the Idaho Senate, brings an extensive public service résumé to the November election.
The 41-year resident of Bellevue is the Region 5 chair for the Idaho Republican Party, a position he has held for eight years, and volunteers for the Hailey Chamber of Commerce and Blaine County Senior Center, among other organizations. Ewersen, 64, has a background in business—he owns Life Savings Insurance, is part owner of the Splash and Dash convenience store and used to own a custom hay-baling company. Ewersen was a Bellevue City Council member from 1981 to 1984 and again from 1987 to 1989. He also served as Bellevue mayor from 1984 to 1987. Originally from Ohio, Ewersen has a bachelor’s degree in forestry from the University of Idaho with a major in wildlife management.
Ewersen aligns himself politically with Gov. Butch Otter; his letter publically thanking Otter for local appearances was published last week in the Twin Falls Times-News.
Ewersen is an advocate for research and case studies integrated into legislative action. For Otter’s wolf depredation control board, Ewersen said he wants to see a private-sector wildlife biologist added to the panel to “broaden perspective.” He supports the $400,000 allocated to lethal wolf control approved this year.
Regarding Otter’s and the Legislature’s plan for the state to take ownership of federal land, Ewersen said he doesn’t think “a wholesale transfer all at once is feasible” but suggests “test parcels” to be managed by the Idaho Department of Lands over a decade. A state legislative committee chaired by Republican representatives is undertaking a two-year study regarding the feasibility of Idaho’s acquiring almost all the federal land in the state—nearly 62 percent of the state’s total area.
“If you want to get something passed, you might as well be working with the majority party.”
Republican Senate candidate
Ewersen said he doesn’t support national monument designation for the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains north of Ketchum, as he believes the area should be designated as multi-use.
“The [Sawtooth National Recreation Area] has been very well managed for over 40 years,” he said. “The monument will simply add another layer of bureaucracy.”
Like District 26 House challenger Dick Fosbury, who is a Democrat, Ewersen supports better road and bridge maintenance. He said he’d support a “modest” fuel tax increase to fund the infrastructure repairs.
“We’re a quarter of a billion dollars behind in our maintenance schedule,” he said.
Other key issues for Ewersen are low income taxes, “so people have more money in their pocket at the end of the month,” and Idaho’s right to regulate its water. He called the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed definition of “water of the United States” under the Clean Water Act “an attempt to control every drop of water in the United States.”
The proposed rule was released by the EPA in March to “clarify protection under the Clean Water Act for streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources,” according to the EPA website, and is “consistent with the Supreme Court’s more narrow reading of the Clean Water Act jurisdiction.” However, Ewersen called it “a really egregious rule that will affect all businesses down the line.”
Ewersen said the state’s 5.1 percent increase in education funding last year was a “step in the right direction.”
“As the economy improves, we can allocate more for that,” he said.
Ewersen said his politics will have constituents seeing results, should he become a new senator.
“If you want to get something passed, you might as well be working with the majority party,” he said.
However, Ewersen added that he doesn’t “toe the party line;” he’s opposed to the guns on college campuses bill that Otter signed into effect in March.
“For me, it went beyond the reasonable,” he said.
Amy Busek: email@example.com