Printed on: April 22, 2014
Butte County Commissioner faces challenges from two
By BRYAN CLARK
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Post Register will preview contested races for countywide offices within its coverage area prior to the May 20 primary.
Incumbent Butte County Commissioner Kent Cummins faces primary challenges from two political newcomers, Rose Bernal and Charlotte Robertson, next month.
No Democrat is running for the two-year District 2 seat, meaning the winner of the primary will take office in 2015.
Cummins, a grocery store owner and self-described "ultra-conservative" who took office six years ago, said he will work to prevent waste of taxpayer dollars. Bernal, also a store owner and board member for two economic development organizations, said she would prioritize economic growth and business creation. Robertson, who owns a horse training stable, said she would emphasize the interests of long-time residents.
All three candidates are from Arco.
"I've paid property taxes in Butte County for over 50 years, so I think I know what it means for taxpayers to take the sweat from their brow to pay taxes," Cummins said. "There are too many people who want to spend taxpayers' money for frivolous things."
Cummins said the county's money is being wasted by the Arco-Butte County Business Incubation Center on some projects. He said the economic development organization is giving money to businesses that are too long-established to warrant government support, and that helping to underwrite new businesses can create competition for existing businesses.
"It doesn't make sense, and we are spending taxpayers' hard-earned money to incubate businesses that don't need to be incubated," he said.
But Bernal, who serves on the board of the Business Incubation Center as well as the Lost Rivers Economic Development Board, said economic development is the key to Butte County's future, which is threatened by economic stagnation.
"I can see a steady decline," she said. "We are losing people; we are losing businesses; and it worries me greatly."
"If we wait much longer it is definitely going to get worse, and we may get to a point where we can't bounce back."
Bernal said the level of service at county schools and the Lost Rivers Medical Center has been hurt by a shrinking tax base.
"I think if we had someone in the commissioner's office who felt as strongly about economic development as I do it would help a lot," she said.
Bernal thinks she could leverage being elected commissioner into a position on the board of the the Regional Development Alliance, a nonprofit specializing in business investment that receives support from Idaho National Laboratory, to direct funds toward Butte County.
"The majority of their money never sees Butte County, even though Butte County is the most impacted (by INL)," she said.
Robertson said the county needs "new people," but she worries their views are given inordinate weight.
"The new people move in here and they want to make all these changes and make things different," she said. "I think sometimes the people who have lived out here their whole lives get overlooked."
Robertson, 37, said she could bring a fresh perspective to county government.
"I'm young, so I can have a voice for the younger generation," she said. "I have lived here my whole life, so I know the people of the older generation also."
Robertson said she favors growth, but the direction of growth should reflect the interests of the county's long-time residents.
Marital status: Married
Schooling: Vallivue High School
Occupation: Owner, Bargain Barn, Arco
Years in county: 15
Marital status: Married
Schooling: Butte High School
Occupation: Owner, A&A Market, Arco
Years in county: 63
Marital status: Married
Schooling: Associate degree, medical assistant, College of Southern Idaho
Occupation: Owner, Robertson Training Stables, Arco
Years in county: 34
Catch up on the Post Register's already published May 20 election preview stories.
Saturday, "Thompson faces appraiser in Fremont," tinyurl.com/Fremont-assessor
Saturday, "Baxter faces primary challenge in Fremont," tinyurl.com/Fremont-commish1
Friday, Madison District 1: "Student challenges Kimber Ricks," tinyurl.com/mghtbnc
Friday, Madison District 2: "Orr takes on Jon Weber in primary," tinyurl.com/l2k37ev
Thursday, "Custer County District 2 commissioner faces challenge," tinyurl.com/custer-com mish
Wednesday, "Two newcomers seek Bingham clerk position," tinyurl.com/BinghamClerk
April 14, "Idaho governor candidate spurns NRA questionnaire," tinyurl.com/SpurnsNRA
April 13, "Hancey facing challenge from Nate," tinyurl.com/HanceyNate
April 11, "Manwaring faces challenge in Bingham District 2," tinyurl.com/ManwaringBingham2
April 10, "Two-year Jefferson Commission seat up for grabs," tinyurl.com/Jefferson2
April 10, "Secretary of State race gets crowded," tinyurl.com/CrowdedRace
April 9, "Three vie for Jefferson Commission seat," tinyurl.com/JeffComm3
April 9, "Ysura reflects on years of service," tinyurl.com/YsuraReflects
April 8, "Three in GOP end campaigns before primary," tinyurl.com/EndCampaigns
April 3, "Candidates vie for district judge positions," tinyurl.com/DistrictJudges