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Sam Hulse to stay on ballot for Bonneville sheriff after opponent’s legal challenge fails

East Idaho Elects

IDAHO FALLS — A legal challenge to take Bonneville County Sheriff candidate Samuel Hulse off the ballot has failed.

On Friday, fellow candidate Tim Downs, an Idaho Falls police officer, filed the complaint with Bonneville County and the Idaho Secretary of State claiming one of his opponents, Hulse, had not met the residency requirements to run for sheriff.

But on Tuesday, Bonneville County Clerk Penny Manning reaffirmed her earlier decision about Hulse stands.

“He’s going to be staying on the ballot,” Manning said.

Manning said her decision came after consulting with the Secretary of State’s office and an investigation from the Bonneville County prosecutor’s office.

In his original complaint Downs argued that Hulse, a deputy, had changed his residency to Bonneville County in April 2019, but was not living in the county until April 2020.

“By Idaho law, you have to be a resident of the county for a year before you can run for Bonneville County Sheriff. And he has not met that statute in any way shape or form,” Downs told

According to documents provided to by Downs, Hulse was given a Certificate of Occupancy by the Bonneville County Building Department dated April 29, 2020.

“Just because you put a mailbox on a piece of property … doesn’t make it your legal residence. Because, you’ve got to live there,” Downs said.

Downs Challenge
Tim Downs challenge against Sam Hulse. | courtesy image

Manning determined that a certificate of occupancy is not a requirement in establishing residency.

Hulse joined the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office in 1999. However, he lived in Bingham County for the majority of his career.

He told that he changed his residency to Bonneville County in April 2019.

“I’ve established residency, as I’m required to under the code. I live in Bonneville County. I’ve met all the requirements,” Hulse said.

Manning said in her Tuesday decision that Hulse’s residency in Bonneville County began in October 2019 meaning he will have resided in the county for a full year by the general election in November.

Idaho Code Title 34, Section 6 lays out the requirements to run for sheriff. A candidate must be at least 21 years old by the time of the election, a United States citizen and a resident of the county they are running in for one year before the election.

Idaho Deputy Secretary of State Jason Hancock explained that Idaho Code Title 34 defines the word residence and points out what factors should be taken into account when determining residency.

“There’s a whole range of different things that can be taken into account. Some of them might weigh on one side, some of them might weigh on the other,” Hancock said.

Those factors include business pursuits, employment, income sources, residence for income or other tax pursuits, residence of parents, spouse and children as well as leasehold, personal and real property and vehicle registration.

“It’s the place you call home. Maybe that’s the best way to sum it up,” Hancock said. “It’s the place that you consider to be your permanent home. You may be someplace else for a period of time, but if you retain the intention to return to the place you consider home and you continue to own that property or lease that property or something like that, then you can remain a resident of that place.”

After Manning’s decision, Downs emphasized his belief that residency was never defined.

“What we have said is that you can’t live in a residence — you can’t live in a house — unless you have a certificate occupancy. It would be a violation of statute,” Downs said.

Downs said Hulse never came out and said he resided in Bonneville County.

“Look at all his (Facebook) posts. Not a single thing does he say he resided in Bonneville County. Everything says he has met everything he was supposed to do per the clerk,” Downs said. “Well, in my line of work, that’s deceptive speak.”

He said he will speak with his attorney about his options now that a decision has been made in Hulse’s favor.

“I would just like to know the truth. If he’s a Bonneville County resident, so be it. I’ll make a public apology and go about my business,” Downs said.

It’s not clear what Downs could do if he decides to dispute Manning’s decision. However, Hancock said if Downs loses the primary election to Hulse, he could contest the results based on the grounds of Hulse’s residency.

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