Elections 101: What’s on the ballot Tuesday

Across Idaho, at the state and local level, Tuesday is Election Day.

  • A host of important legislative primary elections.
  • Two dozen school bond issues and levy elections.
  • And two hotly debated recall elections in West Ada.

Just catching up? Let’s walk through the key races.

The legislative landscape

ShatehouseAll 105 legislative seats are on the ballot this year. And it’s a mixed bag. Thirty candidates are unopposed next week and in the November general election.

But several prominent GOP incumbents have opponents Tuesday:

  • Sen. Shawn Keough — the co-chair of the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee — is facing a conservative challenge from Priest River Republican Glenn Rohrer. Keough, R-Sandpoint, has raised a startling $79,000 in the most recent fundraising cycle.
  • Keough’s House counterpart on JFAC, Jerome Republican Rep. Maxine Bell, faces a challenge from Jerome Republican Reggy Sternes.
  • Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, is another key player on JFAC. The former school trustee has taken a lead role in writing the K-12 budget bills the past couple of years. Her primary opponent, Idaho Falls attorney Randy Neal, is among a number of conservatives receiving financial backing from embattled county Republican Chairman Doyle Beck.

Other races could shape the makeup of the House and Senate education committees. Six Republican committee members face primary opposition on Tuesday. The race to replace retiring House Education Chairman Reed DeMordaunt R-Eagle, is worth watching. His wife, state charter school commission member Gayann DeMordaunt, faces Doug Jones, who served 20 years in the House representing the Magic Valley.

Click here to take a closer look at the candidates running in key primaries, and click here to look at the latest campaign fundraising news.

The recalls …

In the state’s largest school district, a year of discontent will finally reach the ballot box.

West Ada district voters will decide whether to keep or recall two trustees — board chair Tina Dean and board member Carol Sayles.

West Ada Board Meeting2 2-23There has already been considerable turnover in West Ada. Superintendent Linda Clark resigned in October, after months of public disputes with the school board. Trustees Russell Joki and Julie Madsen, elected in 2015, resigned earlier this year, under the cloud of a recall.

Even with Joki and Madsen off the board, recall organizers are continuing to press their case against Dean and Sayles. Recall supporters have picked up support from the Meridian Chamber of Commerce — and, on Tuesday, the Boise Regional realtors endorsed the recalls. Idahoans for Local Education — a group that has devoted most of its focus to fighting the Idaho Core Standards — came out against the recalls this week, calling the campaign an assault on local control.

Ultimately, the decision will rest with a relatively small number of voters, patrons who live in the two trustees’ zones. It will take a majority vote to recall the trustees. In addition, the votes for recall must exceed the number of votes the trustees received in their 2013 elections; Dean received 185 votes, Sayles received 339 votes.

Bond issues and levies

It’s going to be a busy school election day across much of the state, with more than $79 million in bond issues and supplemental levies on the ballot.

Here’s the rundown:

Kimberly: Two questions are on Tuesday’s ballot. A $14 million bond issue would build a new elementary school and renovate the existing elementary school. Voters will also decide the fate of a 10-year, $3 million plant facilities levy.

Potlatch: A $14.78 million bond issue. The district wants to build a new junior-senior high school.

American Falls: Voters will decide on two bond issues. One, at $12.5 million, would go toward a new elementary school and other projects. A second, $1.6 million bond issue would go for a new high school gymnasium.

Aberdeen: An $11.85 million bond issue to replace the high school.

Mountain Home: Renewal of a two-year, $5.4 million supplemental levy.

Caldwell: A two-year, $5 million supplemental levy. Money would go toward career-technical education and extracurricular programs.

Dietrich: A $2.5 million bond issue to build a new elementary school.

Wendell: A two-year, $1.2 million supplemental levy.

Shelley: A two-year, $1.15 million supplemental levy.

Troy: Renewal of a one-year, $995,000 supplemental levy. In 2015, the supplemental levy issue divided this Latah County bedroom community; voters finally approved a $995,000 levy in August.

Whitepine: A one-year, $850,000 supplemental levy.

Valley: A two-year, $600,000 supplemental levy.

Salmon River: A one-year, $545,000 supplemental levy.

Wilder: A two-year, $500,000 supplemental levy.

Highland: A one-year, $499,000 supplemental levy.

Nezperce: A one-year, $475,000 supplemental levy.

Richfield: A two-year, $450,000 supplemental levy.

Rockland: A two-year, $420,000 supplemental levy.

Cottonwood: A one-year, $350,000 supplemental levy.

Firth: A two-year, $260,000 supplemental levy.

Cambridge: A two-year, $160,000 supplemental levy.

Arbon: A two-year, $50,000 supplemental levy.

Join us Tuesday night: Check idahoednews.org for the latest results.



Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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