The Morning News â€” Bob Hudson
State Representative Jim Marriott responds to a question during a candidate forum sponsored by the Blackfoot Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday. He is running against Julie VanOrden (to his left). The other candidates are all seeking to replace Dennis Lake, who is retiring. They include (from left) Neil Anderson, David Moore, Mike Duff and Robert Butler.
The candidates for county sheriff and county prosecutor had the opportunity to ask each other one question during Tuesday's candidate forum at the Blackfoot Performing Arts Center.
The Blackfoot Chamber of Commerce sponsored the event, which featured the candidates for those offices and those for House of Representative Seats A and B in the Idaho Legislature. A forum on Thursday will allow the nine candidates for the two Bingham County commission seats to respond to prepared questions.
Cleve Colson, who is opposing incumbent Scott Andrew for county prosecutor, said, "I want to return fairness, responsibility and common sense to the prosecutor's office," during his opening statement.
"What has been wrong?" Andrew asked Colson when his turn came.
Colson had questioned Andrew's decisions to plead down what initially been a rape charge in the Blackfoot High School hazing case in 2010 and to drop a first-degree murder charge in a 2009 case involving a nurse.
"I'm not sure I would have handled either differently," Andrew said. "We talked to the victims and defendants constantly. The cases are a lot more complicated than here's a start and here's a finish."
Sheriff Dave Johnson, who is again opposing Craig Rowland for that office, asked him what he would do differently from that time.
When they ran against one another last time, Rowland was the chief deputy.
"I've learned a lot since leaving that office," Rowland said. "I was a stay in the office deputy." He has emphasized his belief that communications between the sheriff's office and the public can be improved.
Rowland, who is the current emergency management director, asked Johnson what he would do differently related to the discovery of an unknown substance in the mail at the courthouse.
In that incident, the sheriff locked down the courthouse until officials could examine the substance and determined it was not dangerous.
Johnson said he would likely have handled the incident in the same way.
The legislative candidates responded to questions on healthcare reform, the Students Come First education reforms and urban renewal.
All voiced opposition to the way the healthcare bill was rammed through the U.S. Senate and House.
Of education, David Moore spoke in opposition to the way the legislators ignored teacher input on Students Come First and the requirement that students take two online classes to graduate from high school. The others either support those reforms or didn't speak specifically about them.
Julie VanOrden said the best plan related to economic development is to stabilize what we have while Rep. Jim Marriott, the incumbent for Seat A, said he doesn't believe urban development money should be used for economic development.
Neil Anderson said, "we can look to do things beyond what we've done in the past," while Mike Duff spoke of the need for inexpensive power to bring new businesses to Eastern Idaho.
Robert Butler, who noted that much of the highway money earmarked for infrastructure upgrades has gone to Ada and Canyon County projects, suggested that economic development should extend past those two areas.
David Moore said, "I know the state of Idaho, including Bingham County, has a lot to offer businesses."
Marriott and VanOrden are running for Seat A. Moore, Duff, Butler and Anderson are running for Seat B, which is being vacated by Dennis Lake, who is retiring.
The primary election is May 15.