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Incumbent Bannock County commissioner defends his seat against primary challenger

Ernie Moser, left, and Larry Burden. | Courtesy photos
POCATELLO — One candidate is aiming to take the seat as another is defending his seat as Bannock County Commissioner of District 1.
Incumbent Ernie Moser is hoping to win re-election and Larry Burden is running for his seat. The two Republicans face no Democratic challengers.
EastIdahoNews.com sent the same eight questions to each county candidate. Their responses, listed below, were required to be 250 words or less. EastIdahoNews.com is publishing the answers in their entirety, and without any grammatical or style editing. One response was edited for exceeding the word limit.
The primary election is May 21.
Tell us about yourself — include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any prior experience in public office.
Moser:

Married, 3 children, 8 grandchildren
Bachelors Degree from Idaho State University
5 years County Commissioner, 12 years Inkom City Council, 4 years Inkom Mayor

Burden:
Grew up in Boise
University of Texas graduate
Professional career in accounting & finance
Married 44 years – to the same woman
We currently have an accounting practice in Downey
Serve as the Treasurer for Health West’s Board of Directors – a volunteer position
No prior elected office experience – which I consider an asset
Why are you seeking political office? Briefly explain your political platform.
Burden: There are three (3) County commissioners in Bannock county. Each representing a certain area of our County. For all the years we have lived in the southern end of this County, there has not been a single commissioner who recognized nor advocated for any part of District 1 past McCammon…and for the most part, not past Inkom.
County Commissioners serve all the citizens of Bannock County. But, the idea of a Commissioner’s District is that he/she can focus and champion the concerns of a smaller group of citizens where he/she lives. I intend to live up to that concept.
Moser: For the past 5 1/2 years, I have served as Bannock County Commissioner. During that time, it became evident Bannock County was in need of a Vision and Mission Statement in order to facilitate communication, unity and accountability. With that goal in mind, we adopted the following statements for Bannock County.
Vision: Bannock County will be a leader in the State of Idaho through effective, efficient, and transparent governance.
Mission: Bannock County is committed to investing in our employees, developing effective policies and support systems while promoting community wellness and economic growth through prudent stewardship of tax dollars.
As Chairman of the Board, I champion the values of the Vision and Mission Statements. My top two priorities remain: taking care of our employees and stewardship of taxpayer dollars.
I earnestly appreciate your vote for Ernie Moser – Bannock County Commissioner.
What areas in your county need immediate improvement? What actions will you take to address those needs?
Moser: The biggest issue in my race for Bannock County Commissioner is the expenditure of taxpayer dollars and justifying where we spend those sacred funds. As we prepare the budget each year, I review each budget request carefully inspecting need versus want. The job doesn’t end there. Each week, I go through our expenditure report line by line to ensure that your taxpayer dollars are justified for submitted expenses. To make each dollar go further, I encourage every department to seek grant opportunities that might be available thus lessening the burden to every Bannock County taxpayer.
Burden: Spending. Spending on projects that are not even in the purview nor responsibility of County Commissioners. Like the “Event Center”. I don’t know when the Commissioners assumed they were Event Promoters. We lose hundreds-of-thousands of dollars there every year. This is a field for full-time experts in this very competitive hustle.
I will focus first on the areas Commissioners are supposed to be good at: Roads, Bridges and Public Safety.
What are the greatest long term challenges facing people in your county? What is your plan to meet those challenges?
Burden: Uncontrolled growth and the accompanying irrational property value increases which drive unrelenting property taxes.
Migration of legal American citizens to the area encompassing the southern tip of Nevada to the northern tip of Idaho will not stop. This is not the space to analyze why; but, rather to recognize that this historic phenomenon is and will continue to occur.
Idaho will struggle with the similar problems California experienced in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Unstructured suburbanization, skyrocketing home values and ever-increasing property taxes. The old were forced out of their homes. The young were locked out of the prospect of ever owning a home.
The uncontrolled growth is manifest right here in Bannock County. A development is planned on a large piece of ground that eventually will contain 800 homes on one acre lots. Each with its own well and septic.
Now, I’m not an urban planner. However, I have built homes for my family on raw acreage and had a few wells drilled and a few septic systems installed. Building a home on 40 or more acres with those amenities is entirely different than 800 homes on 800 acres. Something, over time, will not smell right.
Our County can grow; but we’d better take the offensive on this issue. Give our Planning and Development commission the resources they need to bring studied, sound advice to the Commissioners. Consult and collaborate with all the cities in the County to develop an overarching long-term, sustainable plan.
Moser:

Growth and development
Make sure ordinances are updated and effective for controlled growth

How will you best represent the views of your constituents – even those with differing political views? How will you communicate directly with constituents?
Moser:

Communication
Working everyday

Burden: You will never know the view of your neighbor if you don’t meet him now and then on the fence line. Unlike most politicians, which I’m not, I actually like talking to my neighbors.
One of the most rewarding aspects of an elected official like the County Commissioner, is the uncanny privilege to attend most any meeting you want to. A Commissioner can simply drop in on a City Council meeting, or the County Fair, or any fundraiser, or any Habitat for Humanity project, or spend a Sunday with a different congregation.
Most politicians seem to hide out from the citizens. Can’t take the heat, I guess. But, there is no better way to understand another person’s concerns, opinions than meeting on their turf. Not all encounters, of course, would be another day in paradise. But, if a person can’t do this minimum attempt at communication, maybe this is not the job for them.
What parts of the county budget could use more funding? Where are places in the budget that cuts could be made?
Burden:
I have already alluded to one area where a lot of money could be saved and used in other areas, i.e., long suffering deferred maintenance on county buildings. Big budget projects with no thorough analysis and cost effectiveness studies are easy to take off the list. It’s the small items tucked into the County’s yearly budget that are harder to find and eliminate or correct.
Going forward, realistically, we might not be able to “cut” the budget, but rather, reallocate the tax monies where they are urgently needed. Like the Sheriff’s department where the county is constantly understaffed, or the mechanics that keep the County vehicles running. We cannot retain good personnel without competitive wages. Their incomes, just like ours, are constantly eroded by raging inflation.
The challenge for the Commissioners will be to provide the inherently necessary services a County is obligated to do for its citizens and maintain a flat or decreased budget.
Moser:

Employee wages
None we are very frugal with tax dollars

What is the role of local media in your community? How can county officials work to have a better relationship with the media?
Moser:

We have a great relationship with the media
Our Public Information officer, Emma, does a wonderful job of keeping the media aware of events and happenings in the county

Burden: Republicans and the media have, unfortunately, an awkward relationship in Red States and Red Counties. If the media would simply report the facts as found and clearly mark in the “Opinion” section when it was an opinion, elected officials and their constituents would have a much higher regard for all kinds of media. Unfortunately, whether its printed or digital media they can’t seem to refrain from editorializing in the middle of news article. Doctor, heal thyself. And we’ll love you.
As for politicians, quit fawning. The media (if your Republican) does not, will not worship you. Get out of your office, meet your neighbors at the fence. Get their opinion, give them updates on what you’ve done on their behalf since the last time you met in the field. Tell them you sincerely hear and appreciate their concerns. They’ll love you.
The media never will.
Voter turnout and participation continues to be low in Idaho. What efforts can be made to stimulate greater voter involvement in elections and government?
Burden: For a Nation, State and County based on the belief that man can govern himself and that produces such statistics of voter apathy and disengagement is truly sad. This is not just Idaho, but all over America. There were some Federal representatives – not in Idaho – that were elected last time by a low double-digit number of voters.
We tend to blame the youth for being disengaged, or the Moms and Dads who profess to be too busy to vote, or a snow storm in South East Idaho in November for the low voter turnout. But, I believe it could be a sunny 75 degree, nothing but blue sky day in June – and we’d have the same low turnout.
Remember in high school, the coach wanted to win the game and the rest of us wanted to win the game; so he always put in the “A” team. The “B” team and maybe a couple of Jr. Varsity guys sat on the bench and waited to see if we got 50 or more points ahead – then the coach might let some of the “B” team play for 30 seconds of the last quarter or half.
That’s the Republicans. We never seem to send in the “A” team. We seldom win, even against a lousy team from the “Dem” high school. After a while, only a stubborn White Sox fan would follow this game. There are obviously no White Sox fans in Bannock County.
Moser: Information, Information, and Information.
The post Incumbent Bannock County commissioner defends his seat against primary challenger appeared first on East Idaho News.
Source: eastidahonews.com

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