From left: Scott Hancock and Ty Belnap | Courtesy photos
RIGBY — Incumbent Scott Hancock and Ty Belnap are facing off Jefferson County’s District 2 Commissioner race.
EastIdahoNews.com sent the same eight questions to each county commission candidate. Their responses, listed below, were required to be 250 words or less.
More information on Belnap can be found on Facebook.
More information about Hancock is available on his Facebook page.
Tell us about yourself — include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any prior experience in public office.
Belnap: I am married to Sandra Belnap (Orme). We have four children and 18 grandchildren. I have been a resident of Idaho my entire life and have been a resident of Jefferson County for the past 47 years.
As for life experience, I graduated from Idaho State University and am nationally certified in the field of Radiological Controls. I have received corporate recognition awards in engineering excellence.
I served for six years in the Idaho Army National Guard receiving an honorable discharge with the rank of staff sergeant. My specialty was combat engineering (road and bridge construction)
Professionally, I have senior corporate management experience in Operations, Emergency and Casualty Response, Training and Certifications, Safety, Causal Analysis and Corrective Actions, and Facility Design and Construction. I was the lead participant in an engineering design that saved the taxpayers several million dollars.
I have owned and operated successful businesses in retail sales, farming, trucking and financial factoring.
Community service is important to me. During my years of living in Jefferson County, I have served five and a half years on the Jefferson County Planning and Zoning Commission, the last year as chairman. I have developed and provided radiological response training to local hospital personnel, and have provided years of volunteer service to community youth and welfare programs.
Hancock: I was born in Rigby, raised on a dairy farm in the Garfield area of Jefferson County and have resided in the county for over 60 years.
I graduated from Rigby High School, went on a two-year mission for my church, then back to Ricks College where I earned an associate’s degree. While at Ricks College, I met my eternal sweetheart, Holly Welch. Together, we have raised seven children, which all graduated from Rigby High School. We have 24 grandchildren.
I went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Idaho State University and a master’s degree from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, California.
I worked in the heavy construction industry for eight years as an operator, field engineer for Burgraff Construction, and five years as a cost engineer for Granite Construction.
I worked for 27 years at Idaho National Laboratory as a contract administrator/manager and project manager. I am a certified professional contract manager and professional project manager.
I own and operate a 550-acre farm full time, and I also run a 150 mother cow beef operation.
I have been Jefferson County commissioner for the last five years. I currently serve as the chairman of the county board of commissioners. I have served many years in leadership positions in church and community, served on numerous water boards, served the youth as a scoutmaster and coached Rigby Youth basketball for over 17 years.
What are your proudest accomplishments in your personal life or career?
Belnap: My most proud and smartest accomplishment was when I married my wife Sandra. She is a beautiful and talented woman. She is and has been so supportive.
Career-wise, I was able to work with gifted engineers. We were able to design a nuclear facility that received core material from the heavy carrier fleet like the USS Enterprise. I was able to present and review associated control systems with the admiral and staff of Naval Nuclear Operations in Washington D.C.
I so admire the accomplishments of my children. They are all successful in their chosen occupations, contributing to the lives of their employees and associates.
Hancock: My proudest accomplishment is my family. My greatest crop has been my seven children. They are all successful, self-sustaining members of society. Two are school teachers, one is an attorney, one is a successful business owner, one is a doctor, one runs a trucking company, and one is a nurse.
From the standpoint of my career, I would have to say it has been doing my very best at whatever job I have been given. I learned to work hard from growing up on a dairy farm and have applied this principle in all my professional endeavors. This work ethic has enabled me to obtain a bachelor’s degree in six semesters while married and have three children, and then obtain a master’s degree while working a full-time job and raising five children.
During my time in office as a commissioner, we have been able to build a new 25,000-square-foot court annex building at no additional cost to county residents, and without loans or bonds. I negotiated the right-of-way and bridge crossing.
Briefly explain your political platform, and/or legislative goals if you are elected to office.
Belnap: I am a fiscally conservative republican. I believe in and support the US and Idaho Constitution. Men and Women have given their lives in defense of it. As elected officials, the least we can do is uphold it.
If elected. I will:
Plan for Smart growth by increasing commissioner involvement in the planning process. The county’s infrastructure (roads, domestic water systems, wastewater systems) will not support the expanded growth of the county. Planning must be done now in order to prevent catastrophic failure as our population continues to grow.
Supporting businesses will not be inclined to establish in our area without the assurance of a reliable and manageable infrastructure.
Improve fiscal responsibility by controlling county budget spending to only approved line-item expenditures, payoff the county courthouse as the highest priority.
Not support hiring city attorneys to represent the county in law cases. There must be a complete separation of law firms that have negotiation dealings with the county.
Simplify Emergency Response plan and Communication procedures to a “hands-on” approach to emergency response.
Work with Public Works administration to bring needed improvement to the County’s road infrastructure.
Hancock: If re-elected, I will continue to encourage planned growth and business development within Jefferson County.
I will keep those taxes which are controlled by the commissioners as low as possible and still provide the same level of county services to all residents of the county.
I will continue to listen to the needs of the entire county and find common-sense solutions.
I will work to put necessary reserves in place for future large capital expenditures. This will include saving to pay off the existing loans on the main county courthouse.
I will continue to update outdated and unnecessary ordinances. I plan on continuing an ambitious schedule for much-needed road and infrastructure improvement projects.
What are the greatest challenges facing your county?
Belnap: Our biggest challenge is supporting the expected growth of the County. Consider the following:
Jefferson County is the 2nd fastest growing County in the State of Idaho.
In most cases, our road systems are in need of upgrading. Increased traffic challenges us both within our cities and within the county.
A large percentage of the land from the Snake River to Ririe is already subdivided with approved plats. No accommodations for the increased stresses on our infrastructure.
Except for Mud Lake, Jefferson County relies totally on the city of Idaho Falls for its ambulance service. Can this emergency response capability remain the same if our population doubles?
Domestic water systems have already begun to be contaminated by wastewater systems. This situation will only get worse as large subdivisions and developments are built. A new approach must be implemented to better separate domestic water from wastewater in higher density housing areas.
Domestic water wells are failing as flood irrigation is taken from the land and large subdivisions having individual wells draw water from the 80 to the 120-foot level. Many wells have gone dry, requiring redrilling to 300 plus feet.
Although not an all-inclusive list, it is obvious that significant work must be done through a coordinated effort between the county and its cities.
Hancock: We are all aware of the tremendous growth we’re experiencing in Jefferson County. The issues surrounding growth must be addressed in such a manner that planning is adequate for roads, sewage, water, jobs, schools, industry, and county services. We need to look at a much boarder horizon when planning for this growth. I will continue to look at a 5-year effect along with the 10-year and 20-year projection of what is needed. This will require continually addressing P&Z issues and updating plans as time goes on to ensure that proper planning is taking place.
How is your experience better suited to dealing with these unique challenges than your competitor?
Belnap: Mr. Hancock is a good and talented man. We both bring experience to face the county’s challenges.
I am a problem solving oriented person. Much of my career has been involved in performing cause and effect analysis — that is figuring out what went wrong and placing actions in place to prevent recurrence of the same problem. I have found that generally, people are not the issue. Usually, it’s the environment we make our people work in and the tools and equipment that they are required to use that are the root cause of the problem.
I have negotiated and worked with our seven surrounding counties in emergency response actions, including fire and ambulance mutual agreements, dealt with budgeting and scheduling on high profile projects with multiple layers of organizations.
I believe that I bring a fresh set of eyes, supporting background and experience that can be applied to bring more attention, more planning, more community involvement to face our biggest challenge as previously stated. The work will be hard. It will require a tenacious effort. I am up to that challenge.
Hancock: I am currently serving as a county commissioner and have been for the last 5+ years. I possess a unique skill set that has been very beneficial to the county. I have a background in management of large government projects, budget development and controls, financial background, experience in building and maintaining roads and bridges.
Being a farmer, I have agricultural knowledge and hands-on experience with equipment.
Additionally, I have the education and experience to enhance a broad spectrum of county management. I understand the issues in the county and have the ability to help solve these problems.
We currently have a lot of good things going on in the county and I would like to continue to complete these items.
How will you best represent the views of your constituents—even those with differing political views?
Belnap: I am the type of personality that assesses and then takes action. I do not plan on playing “politics” with anyone. I could care less what political party they are part of. What I am concerned about is how to fix the problem at hand.
I believe that by thoroughly understanding the issues at hand, and by communicating the findings and reasons behind actions being taken, we will have the support of the majority of the constituents in the county.
Hancock: I believe it is important to represent all the constituents of the county, no matter what political party they are. If they have an issue, it is my responsibility to look into it and address it, provided it is within the purview of the responsibility of the commissioners.
No matter what, each person deserves an answer and I will return calls, letters, texts, and emails. I believe that I must do what is best for the majority of the residents, not just a special interest group. I have proven this over the last 5+ years and plan to continue to provide this service in the future.
How do you plan to improve relationships with other elected officials in your county and with state legislative officials?
Belnap: I believe that listening to understand is the most important method of improving the working relationship between commissioners and other elected officials.
No one likes to be talked down to. No one likes to be ignored. No one likes others taking credit for the work they have accomplished. In one word, “respect” is what makes or breaks most relationships, both work and personal.
Hancock: I have a great relationship currently with the elected officials in our county. I will continue to work with each elected official to maintain this relationship. I believe it is important to show respect for the individual and their elected position. Our legislators have been great to work with. I am in continual contact with these individuals to discuss current legislation and what is best for our county and district. This interaction is important and I will continue keeping these channels open.
What are your views regarding the role of the media in covering your county? How can you best work with local reporters to ensure coverage of the issues.
Belnap: I just hate “fake” news! I want to thank EastIdahoNews.com for giving me this opportunity to express my views. The media has a tough job, but an important job of communicating information to the public. I plan on using the media to better communicate not only the challenges that we face in the county, but I would like to see more coverage of the hard-working county employees that serve us each working day of the week — the many volunteers and unsung heroes who put in countless hours of their time to serve this county.
I plan on inviting and involving the media to be part of the solution to county challenges by allowing them full coverage, full transparency to our county actions. The public must be involved in order to help its leadership get to the right answers.
Hancock: I believe the media should provide accurate and unbiased reporting of newsworthy issues within Jefferson County. Reporting the facts and giving the correct news story is how the local reporters can best serve the people of this area, and develop credibility with the viewer or readers.
I believe, as elected officials, we can help local reporters by providing the accurate story or facts regarding any story in our county. I don’t believe that there should be an adversarial relationship between reporters and elected officials, but reporters must report the news accurately.