Time for a change, editorial board makes endorsements

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's time for the annual "Kiss of Death" endorsement of candidates from the editorial board of the Mountain Home News.

The five-person board is composed of key staff members and is convened on occasion to present the paper's official view of candidates in the upcoming election.

At the head of the ticket, the board refused to endorse the candidacy of GOP presidential candidate John McCain, concerned about the erratic and overly negative nature of his campaign, defects it saw in his decision making during the campaign, and a belief that he had aligned himself too closely with the failed policies of President Bush. At the same time, the board did not believe that Democratic candidate Barack Obama represented the basic beliefs and philosophy of most Idaho voters and those in Elmore County in particular. As a result, the board urges voters to actually skip that race on the ballot.

Although largely conservative, there was a strong consensus on the board that it was time for a change from "politics as usual." As a result, the board believed that Lt. Gov. Jim Risch shouldn't give up his day job, endorsing Larry Larocco for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Larry Craig. Board members believed that Risch was simply too representative of the old style of politics to win their support.

On the other hand, the board strongly endorsed Republican Second Congressional incumbent Mike Simpson over Democrat Debbie Holmes. Simpson has demonstrated that he is enough of a maverick not to follow party dogma out the window and that he has been an able and effective voice for the citizens of Idaho who will become even more effective as his seniority moves him into key positions of influence in Congress.

In the race for the state senate seat between Republican Tim Corder and Democrat G. Rustyn Casiano, the board unanimously endorsed Corder's re-election, citing his intelligence and solid representation of the citizens of this area.

The board also unanimously endorsed the re-election of Republican state representative Pete Nielsen over Democrat Rosemary Ardinger. Nielsen was viewed as being highly responsive to the needs and desires of local citizens, representative of their beliefs, and spent a great deal of time listening to people before making up his mind. The board felt he had clearly earned re-election.

In the race for the District 1 County Commissioner seat between incumbent Republican Arlie Shaw and Democratic challenger Janet Langfitt, the board unanimously urged all voters to re-elect Shaw, citing his intelligence, wisdom and ability to carefully think out issues after working hard to obtain all the facts possible.

At the same time, there was a general belief among a majority of board members that some people had simply been in office too long, and for that reason opted to endorse some new blood in the race for the District 2 County Commissioner race. In a sharply split vote, the board endorsed independent challenger Doug King over long-serving incumbent Republican Larry Rose.

That same philosophy carried over into the race for Elmore County Sheriff, where each of 26-year incumbent Sheriff Rick Layher's opponents received a vote, but the majority opted to endorse Layher for one more term on the grounds that none of his opponents had adequately explained why they felt he should be replaced.

Finally, the board took up the issue of the race between incumbent Mollie Marsh and challenger Leanna Whitney for the open board position on the Western Elmore County Recreation District, an election that may be drawing the most interest locally of any of the races. Both women are highly respected -- and honorable -- members of the community, but the board believed this race is not about personalities, but clearly is about the issue of the direction that WECRD should be taking. Marsh simply happens to be the board member whose term of office was up at a time when the WECRD board began facing a crisis of confidence among some members of the public due to changes in its taxing policy, a perceived lack of progress eight years after its creation, and concerns that its focus no longer represented both the economic and social realities of the community today.

The board members themselves simply did not believe the WECRD would be able to begin groundbreaking on a community center by this time next year and that its scaled back "Phase I" proposal to essentially build only a swimming pool would cost far more in operating costs alone than the public is willing to pay. The board believed it is time to re-evaluate the entire focus of the district, and therefore strongly endorses the candidacy of Whitney.

In the end, however, whether you agree or disagree with the board's selections, it is clear that in many ways this is a pivotal election, from the national level to the local level, and it is in the privacy of the polling booth that the final selections will be made by a majority of voters. Every person's vote really does count. We strongly encourage every citizen to evaluate the issues carefully, make up their own mind, and then make the time to go vote 13 days from now.