Sunday, November 6, 2005

City of Pocatello Races 2005

Having spent the last two years of high school in a conservative county, there were few opportunities for me to really get out and campaign for anyone. The only candidate I ever had the opportunity to support was Dan Ralphs (D-Rockland) when he ran against State Rep. Scott Bedke (R-Oakley). Running against Bedke is, sadly, a waste of time. Running against anyone in Cassia County if you have that "D" behind your name tends to be a waste of time. A well wasted amount of time, though. I'd do it in a heartbeat if someone would let me take on Denton Darrington! Anyway, I did have a point, let me get to it. Now that I've moved up in the world and have moved to Bannock County, I have the wonderful opportunity to actually campaign for some Democrats. And well-deserving Democrats, to boot.

Since Tuesday is election day, I thought it was about time for me to throw out some information on the Pocatello city-wide candidates, even the ones I don't like. Simple as that. Here it goes:

Mayor

Roger Chase-- The record of the current city council under the leadership of Mayor Chase speaks for itself. Unemployment is down and jobs have increased. There are many who oppose Mayor Chase and the current councilmen based on the City Creek issue. I would remind those opponents that the council followed the law. Mayor Chase is a good guy, I know that in politics that often doesn't matter, but in local politics should. It should matter that we as community members know that our mayor is down-to-earth and really cares about Pocatello. I as the writer/editor of this site endorse Mayor Chase.

Sharon Nilson-- Sharon Nilson's campaign signs say "restoring public trust." Call me stupid, but I'm not exactly sure what she thinks the current mayor and council is hiding from the public. All city council meetings are open-door and I would guess that any one of those council members would be more than happy to sit down and address the issues if asked. Nilson was the voice behind the storm water fee opposition. If I were sitting with Sharon Nilson my question for her would be how a rise in property tax is better than a monthly fee. In cases of large businesses they pay thousands more in property taxes versus what they would have paid, at most $600 a year in storm water fees. She would answer something along the lines of Portneuf River issues need to be better reflected in council policy than through one storm water fee. There are certain people who you wonder why they run for public office, for me Sharon Nilson is one of them.

City Council (Seat 4)

Brian Spencer-- On the City's website there is no information on Spencer. I do know, however, that he has several degrees and yet his job is pizza delivery man for Papa John's here in town. Spencer is on the bandwagon with Nilson in regard to the Portneuf River and he's concerned about the price of playing golf on Pocatello's golf courses. In the Idaho State Journal he was quoted in response to a question about growth in Southeast Idaho and what he will do to adequately prepare for future growth at the local and regional level as saying: "The growth rate for the area needs to be calculated appropriately so that we can plan for the future." I don't Brian Spencer, but I know if you're going to run against a former Congressman, you're going to need a better answer than that.

Jennifer Traylor-- A current manager at Samuel Jewelers in the Pine Ridge Mall, Ms. Traylor was recruited by Ed Cook to run for the 5th seat. The two issues I hear most in Traylor's campaign are the negative feelings about Pocatello and the comprehensive plan and how it should be implemented. The thing is people don't feel as negatively about Pocatello as Traylor or whom ever Traylor has been speaking to. For the most part Pocatelloans are proud of Pocatello. If they weren't they wouldn't be here for years, families even for centuries. Traylor wants the voters to think that there is a great deal of negativity out there, but there isn't. If you want public trust as Mayoral Candidate Nilson refers to, you've got to start with the campaign. Tell the voters the truth outright and they'll like you better. I am very biased in the 5th seat race, but I know Traylor doesn't have either the plan or the backing to beat Mr. Stallings.

Richard Stallings-- I have said on this blog many times the phrase "you gotta dance with the ones who brung ya," everytime I think of that phrase I think of Richard. He understands that he has an obligation to the citizens, the voters, and Idahoans at large. He has been this way since before he served in the United States Congress and I think even as a city councilman he is always aware of his constituency. Stallings' background and experience is what he brings to the table. Not only as congressman, but as a former director of Pocatello Neighborhood Housing, he brings both a political and personal understanding to the council that in my opinion benefits the city. He understands the role of ISU in this community. He understands that our greatest obligation in this state should be to our children and their education. The current council's record, as I've said before, is amazing. They have balances the budget after many of them, including Stallings, came into it facing a large amount of city debt. They have lowered unemployment and brought jobs to Pocatello. Not only do I endorse Richard for this record and his service, he has been for me and unbelievable strength and support in my own education here at Idaho State.

City Council (Seat 5)

Roger Bray-- I hadn't met Roger until just recently. I had seen Roger many times as he is the pastor of the Central Christian Church which is next door to where a good friend of mine used to live. When I met Roger, after all the stuff I had said about him coming out of nowhere to run for a seat that I thought belonged to Marjanna Hulet, I wasn't at all annoyed any longer at his campaign. Roger, like Richard, understands the role of ISU in this community. He supports education at all level. He also understands the importance of the INL (Idaho National Laboratory) in this community. I thought it was kind of funny that his campaign signs say "Aim High" since he's a pastor and all, but the more I've interacted with Mr. Bray and the more I've read about him, the more I have realized he really just wants what's best for Pocatello. He wants to aim for the best Pocatello possible. I think Harry Neuhardt has been an undeniable force on the current council and I admire the way he isn't afraid to put his neck on the line and tell people what he really thinks about them or any specific issue, but I also know Roger is much more receptive to concerned citizens. And...even though city council races are non-partisan, Harry's the Republican and Roger is the Democrat. For me that matters.

Ed Cook-- In Pocatello there is the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, and the Party of Ed Cook. Simple as that. Ed Cook will hammer a Democrat just as often as he will a Republican and he isn't afraid to do so. Cook considers his community service to be his "watchdog" approach. He feels he informs the community of the ills, the threats, and the lies. I doubt that's really true as I've never had a run in with Mr. Cook and I'm a pretty well-informed citizen of this community. If this race were run on community service alone, the only candidate in this race that stands out from the crowd is Roger Bray. Cook is running with Nilson on the idea of restoring public trust. In a statement to The Idaho State Journal, Cook said he is running on the premise that "lowering taxes and setting fair policies in the City opens many doors for removing the clouds that hang over the hearts within this community." To tell the honest truth, I'm not sure exactly what it is Ed Cook proposes we do for the City of Pocatello.

Harry Neuhardt-- Once last summer I was at a rally at Lower Ross Park. Harry Neuhardt was there and in his short interactions with a few in the disabled community I realized the reason I've never liked Harry is exactly that. He won't take the time with them that I feel they are well due. They're voters, they're just as much a member of this community as I am, and yet if it came down to it, Harry would give me five minutes of his time long before he's give them five seconds. That may sound like a very ludicrous reason to not endorse someone, but for me it's the only reason that matters. I think Mr. Neuhardt has very good arguments for expanding the economic base in Pocatello and he does do the dirty work of the council. But when all is said and done, I am the kind of person that would not hesitate to lay down my life for any member of the disabled community, forgive the biblical reference, and any one person who can't give them the respect they have more than earned and deserve, can't have my respect or my vote. It's a very non-political reason, but nonetheless the reason I throw my endorsement to Bray.

City Council (Seat 6)

Paul Gregerson-- The most interesting thing I found while reading the city's election 2005 guide was that Mr. Gregerson did not provide his phone number. I don't know if he has a phone of if he simply just chose not to provide the number to the community. Either way I find it very essential in a representative democracy that we have access to our elected officials. I could have said that I am not endorsing Gregerson because he is running for a seat I have a hard enough time picking a candidate for or because he's part of that crazy Ed Cook party, but today as I sat down the best reason I had for not endorsing him was lack of access. I can't call Paul Gregerson right now and ask him how he's going to strength the ties between the city government at the state university located here.

Marjanna Hulet-- Opposite the reason for which I will not endorse Harry Neuhardt, I would endorse Marjanna. But that is not the only reason I would endorse her. Just like the mayor being a nice guy, Marjanna is so down-to-earth and friendly. There aren't many politicians like that and I know Marjanna wouldn't yet consider herself a politician, but she has proven that she has what it takes. I've heard a million times in the last several days that Marjanna is a one-issue candidate. She is not. I thought at first that she was solidly behind the comprehensive plan, which she is, but it is not the only thing she is solidly behind. Of all of the candidates this year, she is the one I find the most steadfast, the most determined, and the most deserving.

Gary Moore-- Yesterday I had lunch with Councilman Moore. I serve on the Fort Hall Replica Commission, in which Gary is the council's representative and I've never before sat down with the guy. Moore has campaigned on the same facts and figures that Stallings and Chase have, but for some reason (a reason named Marjanna Hulet) it isn't working out as well for him as it is for them. This also may be due in part to the fact that neither Stallings or Chase have strong, qualified competition. If I were to choose a single race this year to keep my undivided attention on, it is this one.

As you can see I am more than involved with this year's city council race. After several Saturdays of campaigning and several random hours of door-to-door on lunch breaks and between classes, I can honestly say I will be more than happy for election day to come and go.

Don't forget to vote November 8th!

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