May 2018 Treasure Valley Voters Guide

Welcome to our Voter Guide for the May primaries, presented by the Idaho Statesman and the League of Women Voters of Idaho. Compare candidates' views on the issues side by side and create your own ballot, which you can then print or email.

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...Please note: The guide will display candidates from multiple parties in one group. At the polls, you will be asked to choose a Republican, Democratic or nonpartisan ballot. Idaho's Republican primary is closed, while the Democratic primary is open to voters affiliated with any party. There are no primaries this year for the Constitution or Libertarian parties. Candidates' responses have not been edited.

Canyon Commissioner District 1

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  • Candidate picture

    Sid Freeman

  • Darin Taylor

  • Candidate picture

    Leslie Van Beek

  • Candidate picture

    Robert Vasquez

Biographical Information

What education and experience do you have to prepare you to be a county commissioner?

What would you like to accomplish as a county commissioner?

What challenges does the Treasure Valley's current growth pose to your office? How will you solve those?

Both the federal and state governments have passed tax cuts in recent months. Amid the valley's growth, are you considering any sort of property tax relief for residents of your county?

Lawmakers this year passed new limitations on local building codes. What does this mean to your county going forward?

What is the most effective way to bolster public defense services in your county?

What is the best solution for addressing crowding at the Canyon County Jail? How will you accomplish it?

Age 57
Education Graduated Middleton High School, Attended Boise State University 2 years, Graduated Boise State University Farm and Ranch Management Course, Graduate Leadership Idaho Agriculture.
Prior political experience 2002- current, I have been elected as a Canyon County Republican Precinct Chair 2009-2012, I was elected to be the Idaho State GOP District Chair in District 10. 2009, I was selected as one of the two finalist to replace Brad Little as Senator in what was the Idaho State GOP District 10 before the redistricting. 2013-current, I was elected to be the Canyon County Republican State Committeeman. In 2006, as a Precinct Chair I co-authored the 2006 Idaho State Legislative House Joint Memorial 12, carried by Representative Darrel Bolz, regarding U. S. food security and farm security. In 2017, again as a Precinct Chair I was the sole author of the 2017 Idaho State Legislative House Joint Memorial 1, carried by Representative Judy Boyle, again regarding U.S. food security and farm security.
Civic involvement In the mid 1990's I started coaching youth sports. I participated on several teacher advisory groups, and ad hoc committees for the Middleton School District. 1996-2006, I was elected to serve on the USDA Farm Service Agency's County Committee. 2001-current, I have been elected to serve on the Canyon County Farm Bureau Federation Board of Director's. 2002- current, I have been appointed to serve on the Caldwell Housing Authority Board of Directors. In 1996, as Chairman of the USDA Farm Service Agency Canyon County Committee, I wrote a letter to USDA Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, resulting in Helen Chenoweth resolving a payment issue to Canyon County farmers. In 2005, as a private citizen, I wrote President Bush a letter in opposition to the Central American Free Trade Agreement - Dominican Republic, and received a response. In 2010, my wife and I started the Idaho FFA Foundation Tractor Raffle to raise funds for scholarships for FFA Students to use to go on to college. We have just completed our 8th year and we have to date awarded $130,000 in scholarships. In 2011, I was asked to help restart the Idaho State FFA Alumni Association, which I did and served as a District Representative. 2013-2013, I was elected as President Elect to the Idaho FFA Alumni Association, then served as president 2014-2015, then served as Past President 2016-2017. In the fall 2013, as the President of the Idaho FFA Alumni Association, I was heavily involved in helping organize the statewide roundtable discussions that lead to the Idaho Agriculture Education Initiative being brought forth to the 2014 Idaho State Legislature, which became senate Bill 1275, and was passed increasing funding, not only to Ag-Ed programs but to all CTE programs in Idaho's High Schools.
Years living in Idaho 57
Family Wife, Pam Son, Justin Son, Wesley
Facebook Sid Freeman for Canyon County Commissioner
My 38 years of owning and operating my own business has given me an excellent understanding and knowledge of budgetary management, and principled spending. The fact that my business is farming, it has given me vast experience and knowledge in dealing with the state and federal rules and regulations that our number one economic base is facing everyday. My 11 year tenure on the USDA Farm Service Agency County Committee gave me experience, understanding of working with federal bureaucracies, and how the federal legislative process works. My 17 year tenure on the Canyon County Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors has given me a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge in dealing with county and state governments as well as their departments and agencies. My 16 year tenure on the Caldwell Housing Authority has given me a different perspective of experience and knowledge in working with the city, state, and federal governments. I have an excellent well balanced real life experience in budgetary oversight, legislative process's, and administrative execution. My leadership style has already served the citizens of Canyon County very well at the local, state, and national level.
Getting the necessary changes made to Idaho State Statute, Title 31, Chapter 10, in order to be able to utilize the local option sale tax for the purpose of funding a capital building project. Getting the necessary changes made Idaho State Statute Title 67, Chapter 82, in order for it to be feasible to implement through our county government. Bringing my team style leadership to this position. Restoring a positive working relationship between not only the Board Of Commissioners, but all of the other elected officials and department heads as well. This should lead to a much better working environment and make it easier to create a long term vision and strategic plans for the future. Bringing about a greater awareness to, and some choices of solutions for, the need to preserve our farmland the best that we can without interfering with anyones prescribed property rights that currently exist. It won't be easy but it we have already started on the right path we need to continue down that pathway. I would like to bring more corporations and businesses to our county and grow whats here. I would really like to restore some faith of our citizens back into their county government.
Growth is predicted to be exponential in the coming years and along with exponential challenges in every aspect of our county government. I believe it is more critical now than ever before that the citizens have an individual who has a proven history of experience and the necessary skills that are going to be required as a commissioner to handle the demands of this office. One challenge will be planning and trying to stay ahead of the growth curve without over expanding the government beyond just the necessary levels to meet the demands, getting the absolute most out of staff and facilities. Graciously asking them for their input in thinking outside the box and looking into newer procedures and technologies that may allow better efficiencies, making sure compensations are fair and just so as to not have to hire more new employees than needed. Other challenges would include convincing the public that it is time move forward on the jail, and moving forward with the implementation of impact fees, therefore putting forth a couple of statewide grass roots efforts to change the 2 state statutes aforementioned. I will use my leadership skills, my experience to bring resolve to our issues.
I plan to bring the discussion of the implementation of comprehensive residential impact fees to the table for the county, and getting the necessary changes made to Idaho State Statute Title 67, Chapter 82, as per my conversations with the Prosecuting Attorneys office. The goal here would be to alleviate the need to pass on the cost of the adverse impacts of our infrastructure, ie; "the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (e.g., buildings, roads, and power supplies) needed for the operation of a society", our highway districts, fire districts, school districts, the 17 departments under the BOC supervision, the 23 departments under the other 6 elected officials. Residential growth simply must be accountable for paying for itself! I prefer to use a local option sales tax to fund the jail, again reducing the burden of property taxes. If these two things are accomplished it tells corporations and businesses looking for a new place to locate that we are a responsible community looking out for the long term interest making our destination more appealing for them to locate to. It is all about the synergy, and it should lead to lower property taxes in the future.
As per RS26137; The intent of this legislation is to amend the Idaho Building Code Act, Title 39, Chapter 41 to clarify that local jurisdictions are limited in their authority to adopt residential building codes different from building codes reviewed, amended, and adopted by the Idaho Building Code Board. The legislative intent of the 2018 House Bill 547 Idaho Building Code Act is to provide uniformity and consistency of residential building codes across jurisdictions of the state. The legislation more clearly defines the role of local jurisdictions in maintaining that intent. This is a very good bill. It should reduce number of permits and cost to contractors that are ultimately passed on the home owners by raising their home construction cost. It reduce's the confusion of multiple levels of standards, by multiple level's of government. It also gives the home owners themselves the freedom, and the right to choose, the way they wish for their home to be built, instead of it being dictated to them buy a multiple government agencies. This should also reduce our Development Services Department cost as well by reducing the number of permit issued, and time on questions by contractors.
I am not sure I wish to bolster our public defense services, unless you are specifically speaking of making it the most proficient and, efficient, public defense department anywhere. I would prefer that we figure out a way to reduce crime and therefore reduce the need for public defense services, but that is perfect world scenario. Part of making public defense more efficient would definitely require that we have a Chief Public Defender who will allow video court appearances for the accused. This drastically reduces the transportation cost of the Sheriff Office, and the counties highest liability scenario, which our current Chief Public Defender Aaron Bazzoli does do this much as possible. With Canyon County ranking 42nd, in the state for disposable income per capita, just $29,929, we are unfortunately faced with other demographics that also come along with this category, the lower income the higher crime, and the higher the demand just in general for indigent public defense service's.
We need to bring our jail needs to fruition, in a fiscally responsible manner by using a 1% local option tax. If we use a competitive bid process, we could potentially get the cost down to $150 million or below. Using the Canyon County's historical sale tax averages, not using a growth factor, as per Canyon County Controller Zack Wagner, if funded in this manner we could potentially pay off in 5-7 years saving approximately $80 million in interest, as opposed trying to utilize a property tax bond. We just cannot continue to kick the can down the road any longer. 10 years later and the potential cost have almost tripled. We have spent millions of dollars doing different studies and have absolutely nothing to show for it. I oppose adding onto the exist structure for a couple of reason. It would require approximately 35 additional staff members, at a potential cost of salary and training estimated at $90,000 per staff, per year, for a total estimate of $3.15 million per year in just operations for only 200 additional beds. To top it off the city refused to issue a building permit. We will have our work cut out for us but I have successfully been a part of many statewide initiatives.
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Age 55
Education Bachelor of Science in Health Minor in Biology Currently enrolled in a graduate program focusing on Conflict Management and Negotiation Certified Facilitative Mediator
Prior political experience None
Civic involvement Franklin Ditch Company Land use development
Years living in Idaho 55
Family Married to Dale Van Beek for 21 years. We have 5 children: Davis, Kramer, Wil, Harrison and Annie
Facebook Leslie Van Beek for Canyon County Commissioner
I have a degree from Boise State University in Health with a minor in Biology. I am currently enrolled in a graduate program focusing on Conflict Management and Negotiation. I bring a love for learning to this position with a desire to build positive, interactive relationships. I am a collaborative player who has spent the past 10 years working on land use development issues. Out of that experience, I have established working relationships with many city and county officials based on mutual trust and respect. Since November 2017, I have been meeting with key leaders and members of the community and have spent considerable time researching the duties and responsibilities of commissioner. This is a key position that involves a high level of service encompassing both the legislative and executive branches of government. The job of commissioner is huge and will take the backing of leaders with proven track records who provide guidance as we shape the future of Canyon County. I have the experience and support to be a county commissioner. I will represent the people well.
The first priority will be to help resolve current issues regarding the jail and find viable ways of funding that do not increase the tax burden. Second, the county is experiencing tremendous growth. I will work to manage growth effectively so that infrastructure keeps pace with growth and we not only meet but exceed the expectations of the citizens in shaping the future of Canyon County. Additionally, I will study and engage the expertise of community leaders and elected officials as we work to balance private property rights and yet maintain the deep-rooted contribution of the agricultural industry to the Idaho economy. How to support and sustain that industry is a challenge I welcome as both a proud Idaho farmer and Canyon County citizen. Decisions will be made be with and for the citizens and businesses of Canyon County. Finally, property taxes have increased 37% since 2015. That equates to an additional $12,681,570 paid by residents and businesses. Citizens of the county have told me this is unacceptable. I agree. I will be your voice in providing property tax relief. Together, we will make this happen.
Growth in the Treasure Valley poses several challenges including a changing landscape, property rights, the sale versus preservation of agricultural land, the need for infrastructure for new businesses as well as the need for a wide range of quality housing. By myself, I cannot solve these issues. By partnering with leaders and key people in city and county government as well as business and community leaders, we can establish the right equilibrium that, coupled with defined long-term master plans, will help the Treasure Valley navigate through these changing times. I have good and established working relationships with planning and zoning as well as endorsements from farmers, builders, real estate and business professionals, youth groups, community service clubs, elected officials, educators and religious leaders. In addition, my husband and I have been actively involved in agriculture for more than 20 years and own 80 acres of farm ground. By listening to concerns, studying growth in the Treasure Valley and being committed to making well-informed decisions for the future, we will manage growth and manage it well.
Elected officials who make budget requests or approve the budget should always look for ways to provide property tax relief. County commissioners approve the budget. This requires a thorough knowledge of expenditure requests and revenue sources. I will research and understand these components of the budget. I will manage the county budget like I do my own: responsibly and in the black. I understand that money in the budget belongs to citizens and taxpayers. Currently, Canyon County has some of the highest property taxes in the state and has experienced drastic increases in the past 3 years. As our economic base grows, I will consider the needs of tax payers first and limit county spending. Sometimes, assessed values change and have a dramatic impact on individual taxpayers. I will work with the assessor’s office to reduce those impacts. I will compare actual spending to budget requests and understand budget line items. By making sound economic development decisions, we will achieve the right mix of residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural assessed values to create a strong tax base that allows everyone to pay their fair share of taxes for the services they receive.
While there is an implication that lawmakers made it more difficult for residential and commercial construction projects, the only significant impact regarding building codes concerned tiny homes. Building codes for tiny homes were relaxed making it easier for manufacturers to put them on the market. According to the Development Services director, codes are designed to standardize the industry and improve building practices. Additionally, not all codes are implemented at the local level but are targeted where applicable. I would need more information as to what this question is specifically referencing as it relates to current legislation and then given the opportunity to talk with the building codes experts further to assess the impact to the county.
There have been several recent changes to the Public Defender’s office which the Chief Public Defender says have been very effective in bolstering services. These changes include hiring additional attorneys and support staff, bringing public defense “in house” and mirroring the private sector’s attorney/client relationship whereby a client is represented by the same attorney from start to finish. Additionally, the public defender works closely with support groups and agencies in providing rehabilitative and treatment programs to clients with mental health and substance abuse problems. When elected, I will continue to listen and monitor the needs of this department, provide support to help find funding sources for indigent defense services to meet the State’s compliance regulations, as well as help build healthier families which are foundational to strong communities. This is a well-managed department in the county concerned with providing quality services to the community within the allocated budget.
The best solution requires the assistance of the Sheriff and County Controller to determine the jail configuration that provides officer safety at the lowest operating cost, the number of beds needed to meet current demand, the current jail operating budget, and available county revenues and fund balance to build a new jail. We would identify future revenues and alternative funding sources to avoid raising taxes and develop a jail funding plan. This plan would be open for public comment and from those comments a final funding plan would be developed and submitted for inclusion in the county budget. The best solution will include no or low impact on property tax, continuance of proven alternative sentencing practices already in place, support from citizens and business owners and a plan to minimize recidivism as well as a plan to reduce the number of new offenders entering the system. I am already working on this plan and will have it ready when I take office in January.
Age 68
Education BA Business Administration, College of Idaho
Prior political experience Canyon County Commissioner 2004-2008
Civic involvement Life member Disabled American Veterans (D.A.V.) D.A.V. State Commander National Executive Committeeman, Representing Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska Life member Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
Years living in Idaho 40
Family One Daughter, One Son, One Granddaughter
Having previously held this Office, I am the only candidate with the full experience and understanding of what will be required to successfully serve the people of Canyon County ONCE AGAIN.
Create a State wide coalition of County’s supporting Idaho’s Veteran community. Each state carries a Veteran Service Officer on their Personnel Roster, although not ALL county’s have that office actively filled and operational.
One elected official cannot “SOLVE” growth issues, but rather seek to manage growth while minimizing land use conflicts.
It has been suggested to me that a forensic review of how the County reaches property values would most certainly result in some tax reduction. Also, seeking relief through the state legislature is certainly an option I would vigorously pursue.
I was opposed to the implementation of the International Building Code while serving as Canyon County Commissioner for District 1 in 2005. I believe time and experience has demonstrated the error of that previous decision. What it means is that there may not exist those statutory construction obligations that have inflated the new home costs, so new home buyer’s may actually be able to afford build as opposed to buying an existing home.
If I understand this question, it refers to providing legal representation to individuals arrested and detained by Canyon County Law Enforcement and criminally charged by the County Prosecuting Attorney.

The U.S. Legal system states that if one cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for them. However, that does NOT MEAN Canyon County must retain a standing Army of Public Defenders, sitting on a bench like Troops in reserve, waiting to enter the fray. And, I also believe the existing cadre of Public Defenders may have contributed to the present jail over-crowding situation. I definitely plan on reviewing that costly circumstance.
The County Jail overcrowding solution isn’t something one can jot down on a newspaper questionnaire. And whomever wins this election, there are two paths available, TAX to build a new jail or Resolve WHY there are so many people being detained by the county instead of availing themselves of Bail and relieving the overcrowding.

I will NOT consider TAXING my constituents to build a new jail while I believe there exists a less onerous solution.