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Three candidates running for Fremont County Commissioner in the primary

East Idaho Elects

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ST. ANTHONY – Three candidates are hoping to become their party’s nominee in the race for Fremont County Commissioner.

Republican incumbent Jordon Stoddard is being challenged by Richard Roberson of Salem and Rick Hill of St. Anthony in the primary.

EastIdahoNews.com sent the same eight questions to each candidate. Their unedited responses were required to be 250 words or less. Stoddard chose not to participate, but Roberson and Hill’s responses are included below.

The primary election is on May 17. The general election is on Nov. 8.

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

Roberson: I am originally from Tennessee. I graduated from the University of Tennessee with a B.S. in Forestry. I moved out west and started my career with the Forest Service in 1978. I retired after 35 years as a forester at the District level. I was responsible for timber and minerals management, recreation and trails, and special uses. I have lived in Idaho for 34 years.

Since retiring, I have been a part-time employee with Madison Fire Department responsible for performing annual fire hydrant inspections throughout the entire county and training personnel in chainsaw use.

My wife’s name is Cindy, and we have four children and 12 grandchildren. I am an avid snowmobiler and one of my greatest joys is taking the grandkids out for a ride and hotdog roast.

Hill: I am a lifelong resident of Fremont County. I attended schools in Fremont County. I have farmed for 40 years and was a building contractor for 27 years. I have owned and managed rental properties for 20 years. I just retired. I have served on the Fremont County School Board for six years, St. Anthony City Council for 10 years, serving as Finance Chairman for eight years, Chairman of Pioneer Day celebration for seven years, President of the UVYA, and served on the county snowmobile advisory committee. I participated in the Leadership Idaho Agriculture program.

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

Hill: My family and the relationship with good friends and people in the area. The opportunity I have had to serve and work with good people. I value the relationships and the things I have learned from others as I have worked in these varying capacities.

Roberson: My proudest accomplishments of my career came from the management of the natural resource areas I was responsible for, to benefit the American public on three National Forests in three States.

My proudest personal life accomplishments are my family, wife, kids and grandkids.

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

Roberson: I am a member of the Republican Party because their party platform best fits with my values.
I believe that elected officials at all levels of government should be responsive to the needs and answer to the public and not to special interest groups and to those who have contributed to their campaigns. Throughout this country, all levels of government have seen their approval ratings continue to decline because elected officials aren’t listening to the public. I want to see our county’s citizens involved in the decisions that will affect our children, grandchildren and future generations.

Hill: I am a member of the Republican party. I am a conservative. I think responsibly with the taxpayer’s money and try to deal wisely with money and personnel. I am not extreme one way or the other.

Please explain the role and responsibilities of a county commissioner.

Hill: I think the role of a commissioner is to manage the affairs of the county. You need to listen to citizens, be informed about issues, and work together with the other commissioners to find the best solutions for the issues we face.

Roberson: County Commissioners are the county’s key policymakers. They oversee the administration, operation, and management of the county. They represent the county’s interests at the state and federal level, participating in long-range planning and managing the county’s budget and finances. They represent the interests of the county’s citizens at the regular county commissioner meetings and at state and federal events.

What are the greatest challenges facing your county?

Roberson: I feel that one of the most important challenges facing our Fremont County is the rapid growth and the consequences to our way of life. We need to begin having an open discussion about the impacts on infrastructure (roads, bridges, solid waste disposal) and County services (fire, law enforcement, EMS, schools, etc.) and how best to fund the increasing needs. Should we continue to fund these from increased taxes or bond levies or should we begin to think of alternative methods such as impact fees? That discussion needs to begin now so that we are active rather than reactive in determining the future of our County. This growth will occur with or without the public’s involvement. It is better to be part of the solution than a part of the problem.

Hill: I am running with no agenda. I feel that there are many responsibilities that the county commissioners have. Some of these are the increasing costs and balancing the budget. Managing the growth in the county. Maintenance and improvements of roads. Increased need for services. The issue of short-term rentals. Managing the landfill. The new jail.

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

Hill: I think we need to listen to all constituent’s concerns and then work together to come up with a solution. Sometimes there may be legal or financial constraints that limit what can be done. But I believe direct open communication one with another is the key to solving many differences.

Roberson: I think that everyone has the right to be heard and involved in their local governments. Encouraging the citizens to attend public meetings, having open discussions and listening to our constituents is the first step. Probably more important is explaining the rationale behind the decision that has been made. Elected officials will never please everyone, but I feel that they must make every effort to let the public be heard, evaluate those comments and make an informed decision.

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

Roberson: I would have an open-door policy to all entities within the county and try to attend their meetings whenever possible. I would also encourage their attendance at the regular county commissioner meetings and would reach out to them on issues that could be of concern to them and their constituents.

Hill: Having served on the county school board and in the city council I have seen the value of working together with the county. We all use the taxpayer’s money. It is vital that we work together whenever we can to help each other serve our citizens. We need to keep each other informed and involved with concerns and issues — working together, not against each other. I feel that I have a good relationship with those serving on other organizations and can help keep that relationship going.

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?

Hill: I think the media plays an important role in keeping the people informed about what is happening and the issues in the county. As an elected office, I would always be willing and available to help inform the people. As citizens we need to make sure the information they receive is honest and accurate.

Roberson: I have a fairly favorable opinion of our local and state media organizations. As I have mentioned in how I would deal with other groups, I would work with the media in an open and honest way so that the public is provided with a truthful insight into county issues and decisions. I feel that if our elected officials (at all levels of government) start working with the media and be open, honest and then we can begin to repair the relationships between the public, government and the media that has deteriorated due to the “us against them” mentality that has crept into our society’s thinking.

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