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Two candidates seek Madison County Commission position in upcoming election

East Idaho Elects

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REXBURG — Two candidates are hoping to become the Republican party nominee in the race for Madison County Commission District 2.

The two candidates are Lee M. Dexter and Dustin A. Parkinson. sent the same eight questions to each candidate. Their unedited responses were required to be 250 words or less.

Tell us about yourself — include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any prior experience in public office.

Dexter: My wife, Ann, and I have lived and raised our five children on a small family farm in Madison County for 36 years. I received a degree from DeVry Institute of Technology. I recently retired from the Idaho National Laboratory after 37 years. During that time, I worked as a Maintenance Planner (12 years), Maintenance Operations Supervisor (18 years), and as a member of the Emergency Response Organization. I have been actively involved in coaching my children and others in youth athletic organizations in my community, served in the Boy Scouts of America and had leadership responsibilities in my church for many years.

Parkinson: I was raised in Plano, where I spent my youth working with my dad and grandpa on the family farm. I married my wife, Brittani, almost 15 years ago, and we bought a home together in Hibbard, where we live today. While we were not blessed with a family of our own, we enjoy living near much of our extended family and spend time with them often. Together, Brittani and I own and operate two successful businesses located just outside Sugar City. In my daily work, my team and I manage and operate drinking water and wastewater systems for cities, small communities, and large organizations, as well as the federal government.  We manage daily operations, maintenance, budgets, and planning for future growth of this critical infrastructure, while ensuring compliance with the state for providing clean drinking water and responsible management of wastewater. I have pursued technical education, as well as targeted business courses. I currently volunteer as the secretary on the board of directors for Grand Peaks Medical–a non-profit that provides medical, dental, and mental health services, and as the vice president of the South East Idaho Operators Section–a non-profit where we train, promote, and work with water and wastewater professionals across east Idaho. Brittani and I are also blessed with the opportunity to serve together in a church calling on the BYU-Idaho campus.

What are your proudest accomplishments in your personal life or career?

Dexter: My proudest accomplishment would have to be my family. I have a wonderful wife and we have been blessed with 5 amazing children (with spouses), and 15 grandchildren that we adore.  In my career I ended up in a job that I never dreamed would be possible. Together with my team, we worked hard and were very successful in making our workplace a safe place to work. I am now retired, and have realized that another accomplishment was that of gaining many dear friends in my employment. I also have been privileged to know many good people in this community through coaching my children and others in youth sports, and through many years of church service.

Parkinson: My wife and I have overcome many trials in our life together. They have ranged from the desire to start a family, to medical disease, to starting our own businesses. Through these trials I have come to know compassion, patience, grit, humility, and leadership. While the life we have together didn’t come as one would plan, I would not be the man I am today without these experiences. They make me a better husband, leader, and friend. And that is my greatest accomplishment.

In a professional role, my biggest achievement has been working relentlessly to obtain every water and wastewater license in the state of Idaho. These licenses can only be obtained through years of verified hands-on experience and continuing- education courses. This is something few in the industry have accomplished. I soon plan to expand this licensure to include our surrounding states.

I am also proud of building a company that creates excitement for the education and skill development of our future generation of water and wastewater professionals. In the past, the skills these men and women possessed were under-appreciated and under-valued. Building a culture of respect for the trades related to water and wastewater management is foundational in my professional decisions.

Why are you a member of the Republican/Democrat/Independent/Other party? Briefly explain your political platform.

Dexter: I am a member of the Republican party because it most closely represents my values. I have spent my career working closely with the military, and I believe the government should do what it takes to ensure that people, property and the environment are kept safe and rights are preserved. We know that taxes are necessary for communities to prosper, but we need to be prudent in the way we use those tax dollars.

Parkinson: When making choices for candidates and policy, I ask myself the question, “Does this bring us closer to the Constitution, or farther away?” I believe the Constitution is a document that was created with divine providence. I also believe the Republican Party most generally aligns itself with the Constitution, and that is why I am a member of it. Secondly, I believe the Republican Party generally aligns with my views of limited government, lower taxes, and rugged individualism.  
My political platform is centered on integrity, transparency, communication, and accountability to the constituents of Madison County, while maintaining limited government, lower taxes, and our constitutionally protected rights. I will apply these principles in my daily work as commissioner reviewing budgets and policy.

Please explain the role and responsibilities of the position you are running for? Commissioner/Assessor/Treasurer/Coroner/Sheriff/Clerk

Dexter: County Commissioner responsibilities include: supervising county officers, elections, roads and bridges, managing county property and funds, levy of taxes, equalization of assessments, fairground maintenance, cooperation with agricultural extension work, and acting as the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government at various times.

Parkinson: A county commissioner has numerous responsibilities and duties in all areas of management and oversight of the county. These include, but certainly are not limited to, the supervision of county officers, elections, management of county property, approval of budgets, creation and implementation of policy and ordinances, and planning for the future direction of the county. The commissioners represent the county’s interests on a state and federal level. They are responsible not only for approval of budgets, but also accountable for the funds used.

What are the greatest challenges facing your county?

Dexter: Residents of Madison County should not be surprised that other people are being drawn to our area, because of the beautiful surroundings and the people who live here. Growth is inevitable, so the challenge for the County leaders will be balancing agricultural needs, personal property rights, and population growth, while preserving the quality of life that our area is known for.

Parkinson: Rapid growth. It has a domino effect that is stressing our infrastructure, schools, emergency services, medical facilities, housing market, and is causing rising property taxes. As commissioners, we need to be urgently working with community members, engineers, and developers to get our infrastructure needs caught up before we add more strain to the system. Infrastructure is my passion and where I have devoted my life’s work. I have years of hands-on experience building and maintaining roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, so I know what it takes to get things done in the trenches.

How will you best represent the views of your constituents – even those with differing political views?

Dexter: Through the years I have learned the importance of listening to those with diverse opinions in order to gain greater knowledge and unity. I am willing to seek information and study to gain understanding before making decisions that will affect the people in this county.

Parkinson: Listening with an open mind to the concerns and views of the constituents is key to representing the people of my county. The constituents need to feel confident their ideas are heard and valued. In most cases, there is common ground that can be found to resolve the challenges that face us. In the times where there is not common ground, it is important to me to firmly stand on a foundation of immovable principles and values, even if I stand alone. It is during the tough conversations behind closed doors where the people who elect me to this office can be assured I am representing them.

How can you encourage or improve relationships with cities and other municipal or educational entities within your jurisdiction?

Dexter: Communication is the key to improving relationships. Open communication with members of the Sugar City and Rexburg city councils, along with Sugar-Salem and Madison school boards would foster unity so they could all be aware of challenges that might impact them.

Parkinson: In my professional career, I spend my days working directly with members of city councils, homeowners associations, boards of directions, and other organizations. I have learned through these experiences that the best relationships come from clear communication and honest conversations. Some of my best relationships are a result of earned respect through being humble, yet sticking strongly to my principles. These relationships with cities and other municipal or educational entities within my jurisdiction must be built on a foundation of integrity, trust, and transparency. It takes continual effort to build these kinds of positive relationships.

What are your views on local and state media organizations? As an elected official how would you work with the media to help inform the public?

Dexter: Communication is extremely important in our county and state. I believe the media organizations do the best they can at presenting the truth, but it is our responsibility to be open with them so we can help each other in our respective roles. As a county commissioner, I would be willing to explore innovative ways to keep the public informed.

Parkinson: Fair and honest media reporting holds people accountable, keeps government transparent, and upholds our god-given right of the First Amendment. I would welcome a reporter at every commissioner meeting. The public needs to be informed of what is happening in their county, and while it is difficult to physically attend meetings often, having access through the media makes it easier for the public to stay informed. Commissioners are accountable to the constituents of this community and the media has a critical role in this.