Two candidates running to become an Oneida County commissioner - East Idaho News
East Idaho Elects

Two candidates running to become an Oneida County commissioner

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MALAD CITY — Two candidates are competing for a county commissioner seat.

Bill Lewis and Drew Pettis are two Republicans both running to become the next Oneida County Commissioner of District 1. The seat doesn’t have any Democrats running. sent the same eight questions to each county candidate. Their responses, listed below, were required to be 250 words or less. is publishing the answers in their entirety, and without any grammatical or style editing. One response was edited for exceeding the word limit.

The primary election is May 21.

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

Lewis: I was raised in Oneida County and after an LDS Mission and marriage to Alyce Alder, I graduated from Utah State with a degree in Farm Machinery Technology. After college, Alyce and I moved our family to Wyoming where I worked for New Holland farm machinery, calling on most of the NH dealers in Wyoming. We took a job managing a New Holland dealership in Great Falls Montana, which we eventually purchased. Operating and owning that business gave me valuable experience about how to work within a budget and having to save for a challenging dry year. I also learned the importance of protecting agricultural land that feeds our nation. After all, God is not making more ground.

I feel being involved in my community is important. I have worked with the Boy Scouts for over 20 years. Among all of the things we teach these young people, we teach about the US and the Idaho State Constitutions. I honor and pledge to uphold both of these documents.

When Alyce and I returned to our Malad roots 9 years ago, I was asked to give back to my community by serving in public office. I was elected to serve as a County
Commissioner in 2019. It has been a pleasure to serve Oneida County. As I have served, I have gained a better understanding of the County Government’s responsibility to be fiscally sound in the way they spend the taxpayer’s dollars.


Family: Married, 6 children, 2 are still at home with us.
Career: Mortgage Loan Originator, prior to moving to Malad, was a Business Analyst and Project Manager in the operations sectors of government, manufacturing, insurance, healthcare, distribution and retail industries.
Education: BYU Utah and Cerritos College.
Volunteer Work: Oneida County Interfaith Council, past president of the Oregon State Society, past president of the Lewis & Clark Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, various responsibilities in the Boy Scouts of America and a variety of ecclesiastical responsibilities
Public Office: None

Why are you seeking political office? Briefly explain your political platform.

Pettis: I am a Constitutional Conservative. I believe that local government has no business implementing laws, regulations, and ordinances which are unconstitutional and violate our unalienable rights. Government should never determine winners and losers. I support the free market. It should never be involved in Social Engineering. Individual liberty is a gift from our Creator and it is the responsibility of proper government to protect and enable the liberty, especially at the local level..

  • The current Oneida County Development Code has unconstitutional ordinances in it.
  • Recently, the county, through zoning and property development restrictions, has transferred wealth from the agriculture sector to the residential sector.
  • Our property taxes are sacred. Paying court costs in support of unconstitutional ordinances. Fines for non-compliance should never occur.
  • Committed to supporting Law Enforcement. If a crime is reported to the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program, it should be prosecuted.
  • Committed to retention of county employees, particularly the sheriff’s office. There is little advantage to training new recruits and then losing them to neighboring communities.

Lewis: I believe it is important to provide a safe environment for the people in Oneida County. I love Oneida County and have a great respect for the early pioneers who settled these valleys we live in today. I want to preserve our history and with smart growth plan for the next century.

What areas in your county need immediate improvement? What actions will you take to address those needs?

Lewis: One of the greatest needs for improvement in Oneida County are the roads. With limited funds from state fuel taxes, Oneida County will never have enough funds to repair all the roads that need to be repaired and/or replaced. The key is to prioritize the roads that receive funding for improvements each year.


  • Unconstitutional ordinances – they need to be removed now. “Business as usual” should never be the justification for these ordinances.
  • Growth – we need to accommodate sustained and directed growth. This starts by attracting non-retail businesses. This approach will keep our home town feel and still broaden the tax base of our county’s citizens. There are resources available today to meet and attract expanding businesses to Oneida County. Please note, any existing businesses will benefit by expanding the employee pool and any enticements we provide to incoming businesses will be made available to existing business when they wish to expand or venture into new products/markets.
  • Promote community involvement by scheduling board meetings in the evenings so they can participate in our open meetings. Meetings that occur when the citizens are not available are open in name only.
  • Maintain county autonomy – If all we do is incorporate the policies and procedures recommended by the State of Idaho or the Idaho Association of Counties, why do we need a board? Who do our commissioners represent? Oneida County citizens or outside third parties?

What are the greatest long term challenges facing people in your county? What is your plan to meet those challenges?


  • Inevitable population growth – The area between Spanish Fork, Utah and Rexburg, Idaho has been referred to as the Entrepreneurial capital of the world (at least in 2017). Planning and Zoning as well as Economic Development will need to be complementary and enabling. We will not be able to contain growth by limiting development – efforts to do so will cost the county millions in court and legal fees. Developers/Builders and ultimately the homeowners should be responsible for all expenses connected to the creation of the required additional infrastructure.
  • Prudent fiscal policies – Increasing the tax burden should be the last resort. County sponsored events should be profitable. We know how much revenue is received by public events and the associated expenses of those events. They should, within reason, be offsetting. If they are not, we need to explore other revenue sources (grants, etc.). If there are other increased revenue options, we should engage in them.


  • In this day and age Mental Health is a challenge everywhere including Oneida County. I serve on a Mental Health Committee in Oneida County working to recognize and assist those in need.
  • Take Home Pay: Much of our workforce travels outside of Oneida County for work. We need to welcome businesses that seek to move to Oneida County and provide more jobs within the county.

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

Lewis: I believe in having meetings with the citizens of Oneida County to see what’s on their minds. We have changed the time of our Commissioner meetings where possible to allow more citizens to attend. We have been holding Town Hall meetings to allow citizens to voice what’s on their minds.


  • For issues that infringe on constitutional questions, the constitution wins. For all others, I will listen to all presented sides, counsel with the other board members and determine the best approach to resolve the issue. I have an abhorrence toward those who would seek an advantage over others through legislation.

What parts of the county budget could use more funding? Where are places in the budget that cuts could be made?


  • More funding: Law Enforcement
  • Less funding: One might (emphasis on the “might”) be the Para mutual horse races at the fair. It should be profitable or revenue neutral, if it can’t be, look for additional revenue opportunities. If that can’t be accomplished, eliminating the races at the fair should be studied and considered.

Lewis: All departments could benefit from more funding. Oneida County is a small county with limited funding and we have learned to do with what we have.
Oneida County road department could always fix more roads if more fuel tax was available.

What is the role of local media in your community? How can county officials work to have a better relationship with the media?

Lewis:Local media is very important in Oneida County. The Idaho Enterprise does an excellent job of reporting county news and meetings. When the county has important information for our citizens we post it on the Oneida County website and in the Idaho Enterprise.


  • The 1st amendment requires the free exercise of the press. The Press (media) has been referred to by many as the 4th branch of government. Reporting should be complete and impartial. Articles published should be without bias. Preconceived notions should be absent in questions, responses and interpretations. Media sponsored advertisements should be easily recognized. Editorials should be labeled as such. Third party editorials should be scrutinized and eliminated when they contain personal attacks.
  • Officials should make themselves accessible to the press when requested.

Voter turnout and participation continues to be low in Idaho. What efforts can be made to stimulate greater voter involvement in elections and government?


  • When government is accessible and responsive, participation will increase. When government is myopic, participation will dwindle and constituent resentment toward their officials will increase.

Lewis: Voter turnout is a nationwide challenge. In Oneida County voter involvement has been increased by promoting the Mail-in Absentee Ballot option.