The Republican primary for Bannock County commissioner is pitting two former Inkom mayors against each other.
Incumbent Commissioner Ernie Moser is being challenged by another former mayor of the small Bannock County town, Joel Jolley, who’s currently a member of the Inkom City Council.
Bannock County Republican voters can feel rest assured that they have two good options for the county commission in that both Moser and Jolley are running for the right reasons, truly care about the county and its future, and can be trusted to act in the best interest of the county and its residents if elected.
Jolley in a way reminds us of Moser two years ago when Moser successfully ran for the County Commission.
Moser has served on the commission during probably one of the most tension-filled times in its history. A botched countywide property reassessment led to recall efforts against Moser as well as fellow county commissioners Steve Brown and Terrel “Ned” Tovey as well as Bannock County Assessor Sheri Davies.
Those recall efforts failed, and we can only hope that Moser and his colleagues learned some valuable lessons from the ordeal.
In Moser’s case, we believe the old adage that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger definitely applies to his survival of the recall effort.
Moser said that being the mayor of Inkom provided little preparation for his role as county commissioner. He’s had to tackle a very steep learning curve during the past two years and has encountered more than his share of ups and downs.
But he’s without a doubt a better commissioner now than he was when he took office in 2018.
Moser is quick to point out that the commissioners’ office has seen far too much turnover in recent years and he’s correct in that observation.
With every recent incarnation of the County Commission, Bannock County residents have expected their commissioners to finally turn a corner and provide the competent leadership the county so desperately needs.
Instead, rookie mistakes have occurred all too often as new commissioners are put in sink-or-swim situations.
On the plus side for Moser, he made good on his campaign promise during his first term to hold outreach meetings in nearly all of Bannock County’s small towns. Those meetings are a win-win for the residents of those communities as well as the county commissioners and have resulted in problems being solved and a feeling among the small town residents that their voices matter.
But it’s tough to look at Moser or his fellow commissioners or Assessor Davies without remembering the debacle that was the 2019 countywide property reassessment.
Moser let his fellow commissioners and the assessor do most of the talking during that painful time in the county’s history and he came off looking like he was in over his head.
But we’re not convinced Jolley would have done any better.
We have to think that if Moser could have a do-over of that episode, he would provide better leadership for the county.
All things considered, it’s tough to be inspired by Moser’s first term in office, and while we see Jolley as a solid, honest individual whose heart’s in the right place when it comes to serving his community, he’s not running an inspired campaign either.
Jolley says he’s running because others approached him do so.
Others also approached the independent candidate in this race, current Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen, to throw his hat into the ring and he’ll face off against the winner of the GOP primary in November.
With so many people out in the county recruiting folks to run against Moser, there’s obviously some dissatisfaction with his job performance.
There are definitely Bannock County residents out there who are still so upset about what happened in 2019 that they would vote for anyone other than one of the incumbent commissioners. Jolley will get a lot of votes in this race not because of his platform but because his name is not Ernie Moser.
But in this particular primary race, we feel Moser’s two years on the job give him the advantage and we agree with him that at some point the revolving door that is the commissioners’ office needs to stop.
Changing county leadership every election is not a recipe for competent leadership. Bannock County has not re-elected an assessor in more than a decade, and we’ve all seen how that revolving door has worked out.
We’re not ready to give up on Moser just yet, and we encourage Republican primary voters to give him another chance.
We firmly believe his second term will be better than his first.