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Wednesday, March 24, 2004


Candidates prepare for District 25 rematch

Ridinger, Pence file for House seat

Express Staff Writer

After losing by 144 votes in the 2002 general election, Donna Pence, a Gooding Democrat, is taking another crack at District 25 Rep. Tim Ridinger, R-Shoshone.

"I pretty much decided about it a couple months after the (2002) election," Pence, a retired teacher, said. "I felt I did real well two years ago. But there’s always more work to be done, and that is what I’ve been doing."

Ketchum-based state lawmakers, Sen. Clint Stennett and Rep. Wendy Jaquet, both Democrats, are unchallenged in this year’s primary and general elections.

Primary elections are scheduled for May 25. The general election will be Nov. 2. The filing deadline for prospective candidates was Friday, March 19.

Ridinger, 47, has been serving in elected offices for 23 years, 10 of those as a state representative. His résumé includes four years as a Shoshone City Councilman and 12 years as the mayor of Shoshone. In 1991 and 1992, he was the President of the Association of Idaho Cities.

He was elected to the Legislature in 1994 and served as mayor of Shoshone and as Idaho representative simultaneously for three years.

Only 15 members of the 70-member House of Representatives have more seniority than he, and that seniority and experience are attributes he said he puts to use on behalf of his constituents.

"The first couple of years you’re here, you’re learning the process. But after you’ve been here a while, you get to know how it works," he said. "You don’t always win things, but it gets a little easier. I’ve always liked to be involved."

Pence, 58, is a small agri-business owner and retired teacher from Gooding who grew up in Richfield. Though she does not have an extensive political résumé, she said she has always aspired to be directly involved in politics.

"Politics is basically organization and developing projects that you’re interested in," she said. She believes her experience as a teacher, business owner and activist for girl’s sports has helped train her for the rigors of the political arena.

She said she is running, primarily because of key differences she detects between Ridinger and herself. One of the key differences is the time she said she has to contribute.

"I think I can make a difference. I have the time. I have a lot of energy. My goal, basically, is to make a difference," she said. "I think public service is something everybody is responsible to do."

Ridinger, too, said he is involved out of a sense of community responsibility.

"Everybody should be involved in his or her community," he said. "There’s other ways, whether it’s church or something else, but I’ve just chosen the path of politics. I feel I can contribute there."

Though she has taken positions on a number of issues, Pence is campaigning heavily on education, water and tax related issues. Ridinger also highlighted education and water issues.

"The turf battle occurring between the elected superintendent of public instruction, Marilyn Howard, and the appointed state board of education is not in the best interest of Idaho," Pence said. "We need to stop wasting critical funding while apparently duplicating efforts."

Pence also said the state’s higher education system is in a state of crisis.

"Student fees have risen more than twice as fast as state support," she said. The fees are being raised to fund essential items that should come from the Legislature. I support investing in education beyond high school, not weakening it."

Ridinger said education "should be every legislator’s number one priority."


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