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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of October 16 - 22, 2002


House candidates 
ardor contrasts

Tim Ridinger, Republican

Age: 46

Residence: Shoshone

Experience: Four-year Shoshone City Council member, 12-year Shoshone mayor, Four-term Idaho Representative

Occupation: Own and operate a trucking business, buys and sells hay. Owns a small ranching business

Why run: "I always lecture kids that they need to get involved in the community, and this is my way of getting involved. My experiences—in business, local government and having kids in the local school system in Idaho—give me a view that helps for our local district."

Donna Pence, Democrat

Age: 60

Residence: Gooding

Experience: Five-year volunteer coordinator for The Nature Conservancy’s Thousand Springs Festival, Division chair for Physical Education Association, a 20-year Idaho teacher

Occupation: Owns and operates a 60-acre Gooding tree farm with husband, Lew Pence

Why run: "I’m basically running because we need a more involved, responsive legislature in the (south district) position. I have the time, energy and organizational skills to accomplish that."

Express Staff Writer

For the second time in two years, District 25 Rep. Tim Ridinger, R-Shoshone, is facing a Democratic challenger.

Former teacher Donna Pence, D-Gooding, is attempting to take the House seat away from the four-term incumbent, who prides himself for working on behalf of education, family farms and private property rights.

Pence, 60, has lived in Idaho since she was 6, and this is her first attempted foray into the political arena.

She said her campaign focuses on securing and protecting education funding, decreasing the number of teens and young adults who are suffering from drug and alcohol problems, managing natural resources properly and protecting water quality.

The two candidates appear similarly aligned on some issues.

Ridinger, who has lived in Idaho since he was six months old, said his most important platform planks are improving education, supporting small businesses, empowering local governments, working for clean water and preserving private property rights.

The differences are in the details.

Pence, who said she knocked on 3,000 doors campaigning this summer, said she believes she can outwork Ridinger and bring more energy and enthusiasm to the south-district position.

Ridinger "has done an adequate job, but people deserve better than adequate," she said. "I have the time and energy, and I think I will bring a lot of energy to the position. It’s a big district, and it will take a lot of energy to cover it. You need to get out and make yourself available."

Meanwhile, Ridinger said his 20 years of experience in local and state politics give him an edge Pence can’t match.

"Our district is still a rural district, and since reapportionment, there will be more urban legislators," he said. "My experiences will help us address our own unique problems."

But Pence also said there is a need for more balance in Idaho that can be achieved by electing a candidate with a "D" after his or her name.

"In a democracy, the ability for one party to challenge the views of the other is very important," she said. "You need to have open discussions for the people. As far as Republicans are concerned, I guess there are conservative and more moderate ones. But I think the one-party politics in Idaho leads to bad decisions, because you don’t necessarily represent the entire state."

On dairy regulations, a hot topic in the southern district, Ridinger is more permissive than Pence.

"We need to work with them," he said. "The dairy industry is big business. For years, our local governments have encouraged dairies to come, and they’re still a big tax base. I don’t think we should over-regulate the dairies out of business. We need to be careful and not just pass regulations out of emotion."

Pence, on the other hand, said large dairies in the southwestern district are taking over the winds and waters.

"In Wendell, it doesn’t matter which way the wind blows," she said. "People feel they’re being economically hurt. We have to set standards and enforce them, set the standards so they are effective in measuring the pollution.

"I’m not anti-dairy. I’m pro-quality-of-life."

Both candidates appear committed to Idaho’s schools.

Pence, a 20-year Idaho teacher, said that in talking with prospective constituents this summer, "education seems to be important to everybody."

"They want to make sure they’re kids have a good education," she said. "And not only are they concerned that their children get a good education, but they’re worried that corporations will look at Idaho’s schools and not come here.

"I will do everything in my power for education, so that the funding is restored."

For his part, Ridinger said there is a lot of truth to Pres. George W. Bush’s words: "Leave no child behind," but added that, "We also need to leave no child unchallenged."

"We’ve got to lower classroom sizes," he said. "We’ve cut education quite a bit already. If we cut it any more, we’re in danger of losing a generation of kids to substandard education."

Like most of his District 25 peers, including Pence, Ridinger suggested that, to deal with another projected budget shortfall this winter, the state may have to look at cutting a lot of sales tax exemptions and, perhaps, raising the overall sales tax.

Ridinger also suggested zero-based budgeting this winter, meaning agency budgets should be built from the bottom up.

"We will build efficiencies there," he said.



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