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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.
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 23 - 29, 2002


Faulkner touts preference for local control

Stennett points to Republican errors

Express Staff Writer

Local politics took center stage last week as candidates for District 25 House and Senate seats, Blaine County Assessor and Blaine County Recreation District faced off at a political forum sponsored by the Idaho Mountain Express.

Tom Faulkner, R-Bliss, sitting on the left at last week’s candidates debates, is challenging incumbent Sen. Clint Stennett, D-Ketchum, in this fall’s District 25 election. Express photo by David N. Seelig

About 50 people gathered at the Old Blaine County Courthouse in Hailey to question and listen to candidates.

For the District 25 Senate seat, Gooding County Commissioner Tom Faulkner, R-Bliss, is challenging incumbent Sen. Clint Stennett, D-Ketchum.

Faulkner, who is also chairman of the Bliss School Board, said he is a fiscal conservative, and he stressed his advocacy for local control in government.

"I believe things can be done better at the local level if you allow people the flexibility," Faulkner, 44, said.

Stennett, 46, who has been a House representative and senator for 12 years, as well as a Wood River Valley businessman, agreed that local control is important, and vented some frustration at Idaho’s continued refusal to give its counties or cities more authority.

Also, both candidates trumpeted education as an important issue.

Stennett said Idaho needs to provide a "free, high-quality public education." He said last winter’s state education appropriations, which elicited a significant protest from the state’s educators, were a travesty that could have been avoided had the Legislature not granted a large tax refund the previous year.

"Idaho has become a very low-wage state," he said. "We’ve got to invest in education so we can pay the wages."

Faulkner talked up the successes of the Bliss School Board, which he said has made huge strides on behalf of its 180 students with a relatively small budget.

At the forum, he said he would not cut teacher salaries, but in a prior interview, he said "more money isn’t what makes teachers happy."

Parent and administration support will help keep teachers happy, he said, without raising budgets.

"I think parent support is a big deal. If we can get more parents involved, we’ll have a better educational system," he said. "We can’t afford to just keep throwing money at it, or we’ll just go broke."

Stennett said it will take years for Idaho’s schools to recover from last year’s education cuts. Increased funding will start Idaho down the road toward recovering from last year’s budget, he said.

On the state’s pending budget shortfall this winter, Stennett said he is very concerned about a potential sales tax increase.

"We need to revamp our tax structure," Stennett said.

Faulkner said the state should investigate and eliminate tax exemptions on luxury services.



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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.