The outcome of Tuesday’s presidential election looks like it’s going to be the subject of debate for weeks and likely months to come.
But here in Southeast Idaho, the winners and losers after the last votes were counted early Wednesday morning are thankfully not being questioned.
The outcomes of the local races are telling in the glimpse they provide into the opinions, values and priorities of Southeast Idahoans.
This was very apparent in the vote on the advisory question to study a possible merger of Pocatello and Chubbuck into one city.
Bannock County voters nixed the idea by a 53 percent to 47 percent margin. We believe that once Bannock County election officials determine how many of those votes came from Pocatello, Chubbuck and rural Bannock County residents, it will be clear that few people in Chubbuck want to merge their city with Pocatello, something Chubbuck officials have been saying for months. We believe it will also be clear that folks in Pocatello and rural Bannock County weren’t crazy about the merger idea either.
The proposal to merge the cities isn’t without merit, but the unveiling of the plan via a botched press conference got things started on the wrong foot and Chubbuck residents have always viewed it as a hostile takeover.
Who could blame them considering that state law says the smaller of the two cities in such consolidations loses its name, meaning Chubbuck would cease to exist.
Now that Bannock County residents have spoken, we believe it’s time for us to move on from this one city idea, and if those pushing the consolidation still want to do so we would implore them to focus on how the two cities and the rest of Bannock County for that matter could save tax dollars by sharing government services.
Bannock County residents, especially those who call Chubbuck home, do not want to merge the cities of Pocatello and Chubbuck — end of story.
Another aspect of Tuesday’s election worth mentioning is the dominance of Bannock County GOP candidates. All six of the Bannock County Republicans running in contested races on Tuesday easily defeated their opponents.
Come January, the Pocatello area will have four Republican lawmakers representing it in the Idaho Legislature, the Bannock County Commission will remain an all-GOP group and the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office will be led by a Republican.
The success of Bannock County Republican candidates during elections in recent years shows that Pocatello’s reputation as a Democratic stronghold in red state Idaho is fading.
More and more the election of Democratic candidates in the county is becoming less and less.
In neighboring Power County, both of the Republicans running for county level offices also won their races, showing that county’s trend toward the GOP side.
All that being said, the Pocatello area has two very capable Democratic lawmakers, both of whom ran unopposed on Tuesday.
Sen. Mark Nye, D-Pocatello, is well-liked by both Republicans and Democrats locally and is widely recognized for being an effective member of the Idaho Legislature.
Tuesday marked the return of Democrat James Ruchti of Pocatello to the Legislature after a long absence. Ruchti, a West Point graduate, served as a member of the Idaho House of Representatives from 2006 to 2010 and back then was seen by many as a future gubernatorial candidate. He successfully ran unopposed on Tuesday for the post held by longtime state Rep. Elaine Smith, D-Pocatello, after she announced her retirement.
Ruchti’s return to the Legislature is a big win for the Pocatello area as he’ll provide the kind of thoughtful, even-keeled and intelligent leadership that’s needed for not just Southeast Idaho but for the rest of the state.
The same can be said for Republican Dustin Manwaring, a former lawmaker from Pocatello who unseated incumbent Democratic Rep. Chris Abernathy on Tuesday.
Adding people like Manwaring and Ruchti to the Idaho House, which has been plagued by infighting in recent years, is a win for us all.
Other Tuesday election news of note includes the narrow defeat of the bond to build a new McCammon fire station, an unfortunate outcome that will likely result in lost lives for that city because the current emergency response woes there will continue unremedied, and the defeat of the bond to build a new Portneuf District Library in Chubbuck.
This is the second defeat of the library bond and we would encourage library officials to perhaps reinvent this project to make it more palatable to Chubbuck voters. Maybe turn the project into an effort to build a Chubbuck community center that would include the library as well as a venue for community events and senior citizen programs.
It’s clear that Chubbuck taxpayers won’t support a property tax hike for simply a new library but they might support a facility with a broader purpose.
Every election tells us something about what local voters are thinking and this one was no different.
We’re just relieved that the results here are not being disputed like what we’re seeing nationally with the presidential election.
The election process in Southeast Idaho is seen as being credible and as the drama intensifies in other parts of the U.S. over who will sit in the White House we should all be very thankful we’re not dealing with that here.