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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of October 16 - 22, 2002


Faulkner challenges Stennett for Senate

Gooding commissioner makes 
first foray into state politics

Clint Stennett, Democrat

Age: 46

Residence: Ketchum

Experience: Eight-year state Senator, including four years as state Senate Minority Leader, and four years as a House member.

Occupation: President, E-da-Ha Inc., which manages and operates Channel 13 and Channel 14 in Sun Valley, Channel 43 in Twin Falls and Channel 13 in McCall. Owns and operates a cattle ranch in Mackay. Founder of First Bank of Idaho. Former owner of KSKI radio and the Wood River Journal

Why run: "The late Roberta McKercher taught me that everybody’s got to pay rent while you’re here, pay rent for the space you take up. This forum fits me. It suits me."


Tom Faulkner, Republican

Age: 44

Hometown: Bliss

Experience: Six-year Gooding County commissioner, seven-year Bliss School Board member

Occupation: Cattle rancher, Certified Public Accountant

Why run: "To improve the quality of education for all of our children, and to control growth of state government."


Express Staff Writer

It’s show time in South Central Idaho’s District 25, where Gooding County Commissioner Tom Faulkner, R-Bliss, is facing off against state Sen. Clint Stennett, D-Ketchum.

For 12 years, Stennett has represented Blaine, Camas, Lincoln and Gooding counties as both a state representative and state senator.

Faulkner is attempting his first foray into state politics, and is challenging the local district’s history as a Democratic stronghold in a state considered to be one of the most Republican in the nation.

In an interview last week, Stennett, a life-long Idahoan, said his "effectiveness and responsiveness," which stem from his experience, are the cornerstones of his campaign platform.

He said he and Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, who is running unopposed this fall, "pride ourselves in using our access to facilitate action.

"I’ve got a whole list of legislation I’ve gotten passed, but it all comes down to responding to the people in this district," Stennett, 46, said.

Faulkner, 44, was also born and raised in Idaho and in addition to serving two terms as Gooding County Commissioner, is a cattle rancher, a certified public accountant and chairman of the Bliss School Board. He said his platform this fall advocates improved state education and more local control for Idaho’s counties and cities.

"Having served on the school board for seven years, I understand a lot of the flexibility challenges these schools are facing," he said.

Flexibility challenges, he elaborated, result from overly structured state budgets that require spending to occur only on pre-approved budget items. If elected, he said he would work to loosen schools’ budgets.

However, one of the key differences between Stennett and Faulkner is on education, which both candidates said is a major part of their platforms. Faulkner said last winter’s legislative education cuts were necessary evils that were promulgated by years of extravagant state growth and spending. Stennett said the cuts were a travesty that could have been avoided had the state not approved record tax cuts in 2000.

To cope with the state’s deteriorating economy while protecting the previous year’s tax refunds, Gov. Dirk Kempthorne and the Republican majority cut more than $64 million from last year’s budget and more than $100 million in basic spending from this year’s. The cuts included $23 million in state support for public schools and more than $30 million in state support for colleges and other education programs.

"I really think we need to put the brakes on growing the state government, so that it grows at the same rate that the rest of the economy does," Faulkner said.

For his part, Stennett said the state’s education problems are directly connected to economic woes.

"Until we focus on education seriously, we’re going to remain a low-wage state," Stennett said. "The only way to (turn Idaho’s economy around) is to invest in public education and higher education."

Despite their different opinions about last year’s cuts, both candidates said they would absolutely not seek to cut education budgets further this winter as a significant budget deficit looms.

To address the pending budget deficit, Faulkner said the state could freeze capital purchases and look at implementing an additional tax on beer. A temporary sales tax on services might help, he said.

Stennett’s ideas were different. He proposed a multi-tiered approach that uses increased sales taxes as a last resort. First, he proposed a taskforce, not unlike Gov. Kempthorne’s, to examine government efficiencies. One of the tasks of such a taskforce would be to look at Idaho’s large variety of sales tax exemptions and to eliminate some of those.

Second, he proposed restructuring the legislative budgeting process to "have the germane committees review the appropriate budgets and have the authority to at least make recommendations." As the process is, a legislative committee considers recommendations from various department heads to compile budgets.

If all else fails, he said, "we’re probably going to have to look at some sales tax increases."

Faulkner said the biggest difference between the two candidates is the "R" next to his name. As a member of the majority party, he said he would have the ability to accomplish more for the area.

"I think when you go into (closed) caucus, when it comes to major issues, the caucus is where they’re decided," he said.

By the same token, Stennett argued that voters should elect a Democrat because the Legislature lacks balance.

"We need balance in the Legislature, so people can hear both sides of the story," he said.

Faulkner said the Legislature already has balance.

"We do have a two-party system: liberal Republicans and conservative Republicans," he said. "People in Idaho are just a little more self-reliant."

Faulkner added that, if elected, he would not blindly vote along party lines and go with the flow when behind the doors of the GOP’s closed caucus.

"As my votes have shown, I am not afraid to stand up for what I think is right," he said.

Stennett, who prides himself for accomplishments helping to impose state odor and pollution regulations on dairies, said another difference between the two candidates is Faulkner’s apparent leniency on air and water pollution from dairies.

Stennett said his work on the state’s Odor Management Act, Nutrient Management Act and county siting regulations, all of which he co-sponsored or sponsored, show his commitment to limiting pollution caused by large-scale dairies.

"The ultimate goal is for the planning tools to help recognize when the land has reached its capacity," Stennett said.

Stennett, a life-long sportsman, said he is seeking reform for Idaho’s "speak-with-one-voice" Fish and Game Commission. He said he is an advocate for public access, farmland preservation and education.

Faulkner said he is a strong supporter of private property rights, is "very pro-environment" and against government growth.



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