BLACKFOOT – Bingham County Commissioners opted to sign a letter Monday requesting consideration from the Eastern Idaho State Fair (EISF) Board to relieve Justin Oleson of his position as the Bingham County representative.
The letter sent to the board establishes a concern that if Oleson is not claiming Bingham County as his place of residence then him being in the position violates their own bylaws.
“According to our understanding of the Eastern Idaho Fair Bylaws, to represent a county on the Fair Board the representative must reside in the county that he or she represent,” the letter stated.
Oleson was reached for comment Monday and was asked about the situation around the letter.
“I was not aware they were holding a meeting regarding this,” Oleson said. “I wish they would have invited me to be there.”
He also expressed interest in the residency factor. He owns residences in three counties in Idaho, and understands why certain laws pertain to declaring a primary domicile, but when he was appointed to the position nearly 10 years ago, he primarily resided in Bingham County. Each term on the board lasts four years, unless death, resignation, or eviction of the position takes place.
Oleson has served on the board representing Bingham County for nine years, but has won an election in Custer County to be the prosecuting attorney. Oleson was appointed to the position as the prosecutor when they did not have an attorney that wanted the position; however, this spring, a competitor, Jason Mackrill, decided to run against Oleson, and ultimately would lose by a small margin of 86 votes. In fact, it had been more than two decades since the last election for the prosecutor’s position.
Oleson has advanced as the Republican candidate for the elected position in November where he will run unopposed.
Oleson, who has residences in both Bingham and Custer counties, will have to make Custer his primary residence while he is in office.
The Bingham County Commissioners believe that this is a violation of the fair board’s bylaws, and request that he no longer represent Bingham County.
“If this is the case, Mr. Oleson should not be allowed to represent Bingham County on the Fair Board any longer,” the letter said. “If there is a bylaw being broken as alleged, we cannot support Mr. Oleson being a representative for Bingham County at this time. If you could review the matter and we can discuss your decision in order to address the community should the issue be questioned of us again.”
The representative positions for each county are appointed by the respective county’s commissioners. However, they do not have the authority to remove the representative, only the fair board can vote to remove a member. This installs checks and balances, so that an appointee is not ousted every time new commissioners are elected or when a disagreement arises.
Oleson was a strong supporter for having the state fair this year regardless of the state of COVID-19 cases. He believed people could make the decision to come or stay home and wanted the EISF to go on as previously planned. Oleson has other ties to the community, including working as an attorney in Blackfoot, being a partner in Blaser, Oleson, and Lloyd, and a prominent member of the Elks Lodge.