TWIN FALLS • Magic Valley voters will go to the polls Tuesday to decide on a seat on the state’s highest court, local bonds and tax levies, and more than a dozen races in between. The Times-News will have live results starting at 8 p.m. at http://magicvalley.com/election/.
Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. If you don’t know where your polling place is, you can find it at idahovotes.gov or by calling your county clerk’s office.
The one primary that isn’t happening Tuesday is for president — Republican and Constitution party members voted in a presidential primary March 8, while Democrats caucused March 22.
Here’s everything else you need to know to vote.
Idaho Supreme Court
Many of the high-profile races, such as state legislative primaries and races for sheriff and county commissioner, are in partisan primaries — mostly on the Republican side. This means in some cases the primary essentially decides the winner because nobody is challenging the nominee in November.
But there are some contests everyone will can to vote in, like the race for state Supreme Court, where Sergio Gutierrez, Curt McKenzie, Clive Strong and Robyn Brody are running to take the seat held by Jim Jones, who is retiring.
Strong and Brody both have ties to the Magic Valley. Strong grew up in Wendell and his focus on natural resources and environmental issues in his three decades working for the Idaho Attorney General’s office — he heads the office’s Natural Resources Division — includes his work as lead attorney in the Snake River Basin Adjudication. Brody lives in Rupert and has practiced law in the Magic Valley for almost 20 years, working for a law firm in Twin Falls first and becoming a partner, then starting her own firm in 2010. McKenzie is a lawyer and a Republican state senator from Nampa, and Gutierrez lives in Nampa and has been a judge in Idaho for more than 20 years. If one of the candidates gets more than 50 percent of the vote, they will be the next judge; otherwise, there will be a run-off in November between the top two vote-getters.
Roger Burdick is running unopposed for another term on the state Supreme Court, and Molly Huskey is running unopposed for re-election to the Court of Appeals. Terms on both courts are six years.
Depending on where you live, there could be some bond or tax questions on your ballot. Kimberly School District residents will decide whether to approve borrowing $14 million to build a new elementary school and whether to approve a $300,000 property tax levy. Rock Creek Fire District’s residents will vote on whether to hike the fire levy from 0.00117 to 0.002.
In Wendell, voters will decide whether to approve a two-year, $600,000 annual supplemental levy, an increase of $445,000 per year. Voters in the Dietrich School District will decide whether to pass a $2.5 million bond, and in Richfield, the district is pursuing renewal of a two-year supplemental levy for $225,000 each year.
Ketchum voters need to decide whether to borrow $23 million for a new police station, City Hall and fire station, and there are votes on renewing the local option tax in Sun Valley, on street levies in Burley and Hailey, on whether the Ketchum cemetery district should annex several lots of land, and on a $12.5 million Power County school bond that some Cassia County voters will weigh in on.
How many people are going to vote?
Since the 1990s, May primary turnout percentage for registered voters has typically hovered in the mid-to-high 20s. It was 24 percent in 2012 and 26 percent in 2014. Because not everyone is registered, the share of the voting-age population that votes is less — it was 17 percent in May 2014.
Twin Falls County mailed out about 400 absentee ballots and almost 1,200 people voted early, county Clerk Kristina Glascock said Monday. Glascock said she expects high turnout in the Kimberly area because of the school bond and fire district levy votes. Turnout tends to be low in the city of Twin Falls, she said. Glascock said some of the local races have generated a good deal of interest, but the fact that the presidential vote has already happened could lead some people to stay home who might have otherwise been drawn to vote.
“It’s so hard to predict,” she said.
The only federal races with opposition are the Republican one for Congress — U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson is facing a primary challenge from Boise resident Lisa Marie — and the Constitution Party race for U.S. Senate, where Ray Writz and Pro-Life are running against each other.
U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, is unopposed for his party’s nomination for re-election, and Twin Falls native Jerry Sturgill is unopposed for the Democratic nomination to take on Crapo. Democrat Jennifer Martinez, who lives in Boise but grew up in Wendell, is unopposed for her party’s nomination to take on Simpson, as is Anthony Tomkins, of Twin Falls, on the Constitution Party line.
In District 24, Mary Bello is running against Rep. Steve Hartgen, a Twin Falls Republican. And in District 25, Reggy Sternes is running against Republican Jerome Rep. Maxine Bell. Rep. Pete Nielsen, a Mountain Home Republican, is facing challengers Megan Blanksma and Justin Freeman, and Rep. Rich Wills, R-Glenns Ferry, is facing Christy Zito.
Also in District 25, Democrat Rudy Cordova of Jerome is running as a write-in legislative candidate. He needs at least 50 votes to get his name on the November ballot, where he would face the winner of the Bell/Sternes primary.
The area’s other seats are unopposed in the primary on both the Democratic and Republican sides, and for some of them, such as all the Mini-Cassia seats, there isn’t a Democratic opponent challenging the incumbent in the general election.
Twin Falls county commissioners Leon Mills and George Urie are both facing challenges in the Republican primary from Don Hall and Jack Johnson, respectively. In Jerome County, GOP incumbent Charlie Howell is facing challengers Mike Dahmer, and Roger Morley is challenged by Roy Prescott.
In Cassia County, Dee Yeaman, Shirley Halford-Hubbard, Tim Darrington and Tommy Hutchison are all running in the Republican primary for the commissioner seat Dennis Crane is leaving, and in Camas County Marshall Ralph and Monte Cangiamilla are running to replace Commissioner Ron Chapman. In Minidoka County, Commissioner Sheryl Koyle is facing challenger Richard Schafer, and in Gooding County incumbent Wayne Chandler is facing challenger Terrell Williams.
In Blaine County, the only competitive commissioner race is in the Democratic primary, where Kaz Thea and Gary Brower are challenging incumbent Jacob Greenberg.
Sheriffs and Prosecutors
In Twin Falls County, Cliff Katona is taking on incumbent Tom Carter in the Republican primary for sheriff, and Mark Guerry is running against incumbent Prosecuting Attorney Grant Loebs. In Jerome County, Prosecuting Attorney Mike Seib is running for re-election unopposed, while challenger Jon Lenker is running against incumbent Sheriff Doug McFall.
In Cassia County, incumbent Jay Heward and challengers Darwin Johnson and Scott Yates are vying in the Republican primary to be the county’s top cop, and in Minidoka County incumbent Sheriff Eric Snarr is facing challenger Jeff McEwen. In Lincoln County, George “JR” Gregory, Bill Irving, Cresley McConnell, Rene Rodriguez and Verlon Southwick are all running in the Republican primary to replace Sheriff Kevin Ellis, who will retire at the end of his term.
In Gooding County, incumbent Prosecuting Attorney Luverne Shull is facing challenger Matt Pember.