Rep. Clark Kauffman, R-Filer, is facing a primary challenger — Lyle Johnstone — for the first time since he first won a District 25 House seat in 2012, and Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, is facing his first challenger — Kevin Williams — of any kind, Republican or Democrat, since first winning a District 27 House seat in 2006.
The retirement of longtime Rep. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, left open the other District 25 House seat, attracting three very different candidates — B. Roy Prescott, Laurie Lickley and Glenneda Zuiderveld.
We think the incumbents, Kauffman and Wood, should be re-elected, and Prescott is the best of the three candidates for the vacant District 25 seat.
In Bell’s seat, Prescott has by far the most political experience, making him the best candidate of the three. He was a Jerome County commissioner in the 1990s and ran unsuccessfully against current commissioner Roger Morley in 2016. His list of accomplishments is extensive, including helping to establish the Jerome County Commerce Association and serving on the Board of Directors for the National Cattlemen’s Association.
Prescott understands Magic Valley’s shortage of young, qualified blue-collar workers, and he understands the urgency of the problem. He is open to using tax incentives for things like attracting new businesses to Jerome County, and he indicates he would have voted in-step with Magic Valley legislators on the controversial domestic violence bill that was voted down by the House in March despite near-unanimous support from local lawmakers.
Prescott likened gun ownership to a driver’s license: Law-abiding citizens should certainly have access to firearms, but like operating a vehicle, there are certain simple qualifications that must be met. If you want to drive a car, don’t drive drunk; if you want to own a gun, don’t beat up on your spouse or children. That, like we argued at the time, seems fair to us.
Lickley doesn’t carry much political experience, but operates a ranch in Jerome and is a past president of the Idaho Cattle Association. She compares the latter experience to what her first year in the statehouse would be — learning quickly on the fly and doing lot of listening. That’s a good approach for a first-time legislator, and Lickley seems like the type of communicator who could do just that.
Zuiderveld’s political positions sit farther to the right than her two opponents, and she has positioned herself firmly as a citizen, rather than a politician. She understands the relationship between constituents and legislators and touts herself as a willing listener, even calling her campaign tour a “listening tour.”
She has some positions that we support, including higher pay and better communication with teachers and rewarding state departments for being frugal. But she also comes from the ideology of Freedom Foundation legislators who we’ve seen reject government spending of any kind over the past few years. We respect Zuiderveld’s willingness to listen to constituents and act accordingly, but we wonder just who those constituents are that she’s listening to.
Lickley and Zuiderveld each have attributes that would make them good legislators, but Prescott is the best candidate.
As for the incumbents, Wood and Kauffman are better options than their challengers. As chairman of the House Health and Welfare Committee, Wood did not allow a dual-waiver health care plan, supported by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, to be heard during the last legislative session. This was a bit of election-year political maneuvering, as he hoped the bill would pass next year once there was less danger of fellow House Republicans being branded by opponents as “Medicaid expanders.” It’s an unfortunate piece of political cynicism, but it’s also probably true.
Wood gave impassioned support for the domestic violence gun bill back in March, and he is chairman of the committee that’s working on much-needed campaign finance reform. He is doing a fine job as a representative, and he’s done nothing to warrant a changing of the guard in Mini-Cassia.
The same goes for Kauffman. His opponent, Johnstone, says he is the “liberty candidate.” He, like Zuiderveld, said he’s spent years complaining about state government and decided to give it a whirl for a state legislator position this election cycle. The momentum is strong right now for outsiders in American politics, but Kauffman is a reasonable, well-respected legislator who actually puts into action most of the ideas espoused by his opponent.