GOODING • Gooding County Commission incumbent Wayne Chandler is facing a challenger — Terrell Williams, who says there needs to be more accountability and communication with the public.
They’re vying for for seat three during the May 17 election.
Chandler, 68, a farmer, has lived in the Magic Valley for more than 40 years. He has served on the Gooding County Commission for four years.
Chandler said he’s running for reelection because there are major issues left to address. “There’s been some things that I would still like to see accomplished.”
Williams — a Wendell resident — was a Gooding County commissioner for six years from 2007 to 2012. She lost to Chandler during the 2012 election.
“It was just really disappointing to me because I feel like we were making progress,” she said.
Now, Williams said she wants to be on the board again because a commissioner is needed who will attend meetings and be accessible to the public. “I think we need a dependable commissioner.”
Wiliams, 63, said when she was commissioner, she never missed a meeting. She said she talked with students and senior citizens about local government, went to city council meetings and met with state legislators.
That’s not happening now, she said.
Gooding County working to revamp its website to make information and services more accessible to the public, Chandler said. “We’re really working on developing a webpage on a computer.”
Once it’s done within a year, he said, it will allow community members to do more online instead of going to the county courthouse. “That’s the direction we really need to go.”
The county’s website needs to be regularly updated with meeting minutes and agendas, Williams said. “It’s not really transparent.”
Other issues facing the county are water rights, protecting property rights and creating an equitable county wage schedule, Chandler said. Williams said she’s concerned about declining air quality and water resources.
The commission is trying to get wages equal with neighboring counties, Chandler said. “If not, (employees) quit and leave and go to other counties.”
Williams said she thinks appreciation of Gooding County employees is lacking. And community members deserve to have a commissioner who’s fair, she added.
The problem with county commissioners is they don’t tell people what they’re doing or communicate information well, Williams said.
Williams — who was raised in Twin Falls and Hagerman — spent 30 years working for the Times-News and its Ag Weekly publication. She has lived in Wendell for about 40 years with her husband, and they raised their two sons there.
Williams said she puts an emphasis on volunteer work and has a history of community service. She recently finished a two-year term as president of the Wendell Chamber of Commerce and she’s on a committee to help organize Magic Valley Dairy Days.
In 2007, she decided to run for Gooding County Commission because “at the time, the industrial dairies were a huge problem,” Williams said.
Even today, if you’re in Wendell in the evening, you have to shut your windows, she said. “It’s a lot better than it was.”
She was involved with revamping the county’s comprehensive plan — which took two years of meetings.
The major decision was limiting dairy expansions. “That was the main, contentious thing we done,” Williams said, adding it made people furious.
Commissioners are in the midst of revising the five-year comprehensive plan again.
Chandler said he’d like to see agriculture continue to thrive as the county’s primary source of income.
“I don’t like subdivisions in the country,” he said, adding it adversely affects dairy and agriculture operations.
There’s a huge dairy presence in Gooding County, he said. “Personally, I don’t think we need more, but we need to try to help the ones that are here.”
It’s important to “keep things vibrant” in small communities, Chandler said, because they need to thrive.
Chandler is one of the members of a seven-county Southern Idaho Solid Waste board, made up of county commissioners.
“That’s been a real eye opener for me,” he said. The board is in the midst of trying to negotiate selling methane gas to Idaho Power, he added.
He’s also on the tri-county weed board — made up of Lincoln, Jerome and Gooding counties — which focuses on the eradication of noxious weeds.