I first thought about running for commissioner in January of 2020. I had been thinking about running for office, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had been working with other political candidates for several years. Because of that, I knew how important it was to have good people running for office. But, I had always preferred to do my political work in the background rather than in the spotlight.
I approached the Elections office to file my paperwork with nervous excitement. My hands shook as I handed the packet to the elections official. As I was the first person to file, I would have to wait two weeks to see if I would have an opponent. The existing commissioner hadn’t decided if he was going to run or not, so it was a long two weeks of waiting.
At 5:01 pm on the last day to file, I called the elections office to see if anyone had filed. When they told me I was the only one, I couldn’t believe what I had heard. I was about to become a county commissioner!
The Primary season wasn’t very exciting. Because of the COVID-19 issues, I missed the opportunity to go out on the campaign trail. It disappointed me it wasn’t able to talk about my ideas and meet people.
While helping other candidates with their primary races, I had time to think and refine my ideas. In the end, my platform became very simple. Property taxes are a concern for everyone. And as a taxpaying citizen, I understand the dislike for tax increases.
With that in mind, I began looking at what a commissioner could do to impact a county’s taxes. I came up with three things I could do as a commissioner to reduce the county’s tax burden on the citizens.
First, I could look for ways to increase efficiencies. Things like leasing vehicles, centralized purchasing, and improving the use of technology can have a big impact on budgets. Another way is seeing how county resources can pay for themselves. While somewhat unpopular, a “pay to play” approach could reduce budget strains.
Second, commissioners can push back against unfunded state mandates. There are many programs and services mandated by the state. While these are necessary items, many of them do not come with state funding. The DMV is a good example of this. The DMV is a state-mandated function, for which the county receives no state dollars to run. We need to find ways to push back on these types of state directives.
Third, we need to have good working relationships. We need good relationships not only with the county departments and employees but the other local governments we work with. Having good relationships helps us find creative solutions to problems. These creative solutions will help reduce (or keep in line) costs while improving services.
After the Primary
Once the primary was over, I became the certified candidate for the general election. It was then time to see if I could receive the appointment to fill the vacancy created by Commissioner Brown’s departure.
I was able to attend the Bannock County Central Committee’s meeting. During this meeting, I had to “campaign” to have my name submitted to the Governor. Fortunately, I was selected along with two other candidates for the Governor to consider.
I had to fill out an application and submit to a background check. Once “cleared”, I was able to interview with the Governor’s staff for the position. We had a great conversation about the issues facing Bannock County and my approach to solving them. After the interviews, I was fortunate enough to be selected to fill the vacant seat.
Becoming A Commissioner
When I learned that I would be sworn in on the same day as the new Sheriff, Tony Manu, I was excited. I have a lot of respect for Tony and look forward to supporting the Sheriff’s office. I couldn’t think of a better day to be sworn in than on that day.
Driving to the courthouse that morning I felt the weight of the office begin to settle on my shoulders. It is a responsibility that I don’t take lightly. For many years I didn’t pay much attention to county government. But, while driving to the courthouse I began to realize how much county officials impact our lives. The weight of that pressure began to sit heavy on my shoulders.
It was a proud moment as I stood before the Judge and took my oath of office. I have always been a believer in the Constitution, but it that moment it became very real to me. I have three children in the military and I understand the sacrifice our veterans and their families make. At the moment of swearing-in, I began to realize the enormity of what that meant. My knees felt weak at the thought of trying to live up to that standard.
The point of this blog is to capture my journey as a County Commissioner. I hope this blog educates, entertains, and provides a level of transparency that the government needs. As I write, I will share as much of what I experience as possible. Too often, we don’t understand the role of the various government officials we elect.
It is my goal to provide insight into the world of government. Through that, I will give the voters information and a new perspective. Which they can use to hold their elected officials (myself included) more accountable.