Two Republicans and two Democrats compete for Bannock County Commission nomination - East Idaho News
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Two Republicans and two Democrats compete for Bannock County Commission nomination

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POCATELLO — Two Republicans and two Democrats are running against each other for their respective party’s nomination for a county commissioner seat.

The two Republicans running against each other for the nomination for County Commissioner for District 3 are incumbent John Crowder and Ken Bullock and the two Democrats running are Dave Archuleta and Tamara Code. The two candidates who take their party’s nomination will face each other in the November election. sent the same eight questions to each 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.

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.

Crowder: I’ve been a Bannock County Commissioner for a little over one year. I’ve focused on controlling spending in order to provide Bannock County residents with tax relief.

I’ve had experience managing budgets of over $300 million and a staff of 130 people located in several countries and in the U.S. for American President Lines, Ltd.

I’ve owned small businesses including a private school, a consulting business, and an online news site.

I have a BS in Marine Transportation with a minor in Economics, a MS in Procurement & Contract Management, and studied contract law.

I am experienced in using process management tools associated with Quality initiatives to reduce costs while improving efficiency in operations.

Ken Bullock: I am proud to be from Bannock County. I was born in McCammon, raised on a small farm and went to Marsh Valley where I received lessons in integrity, family values, and hard work. I attended ISU where I received a Business Management, Accounting, and CIS degrees. I raised my family and made a career here. I have been in business and public office for over 40 years. I served as Mayor for 22 years until I accepted the position of County Commissioner for a couple of years. I Have served on local, state, regional, and multistate boards for economic, transportation, and government purposes.

Archuleta: I am a graduate of Pocatello High School, attended Idaho State and University of Washington.

I am a U.S. Navy Vietnam veteran. I had the honor to serve on the U.S.S. Benjamin Stoddart DDG-22. The last U.S. war ship out of Vietnam.

I am a retired Associate Tribal Court Judge serving 9 years at Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Court and one year at Wind River Tribal Court. I graduated from the National Judicial College with a Certification as a Tribal Court Judge.

I served as Chief Public Defender Advocate, Chief Tribal Prosecutor. Before joining Tribal Court I was a news reporter for 15 years both electronic and print. I was the guest host for National Native News on National Public Radio.

Code: I am Tamara, a dedicated mother, survivor, and community leader from Pocatello. Raised on a dairy farm in Jerome, I learned the values of hard work and perseverance early in life. Despite our modest beginnings, I was inspired to surpass the financial limitations my family faced. I pursued my education diligently, earning a Bachelor’s in Business Education from the University of Idaho.

Five years ago, amidst battling lymphoma and the challenge of being laid off, I decided to enroll in an MBA program. My dedication led to my academic success and inspired my daughters, Kelsey and Lindsey, to pursue Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Geophysics, respectively. This experience taught me the power of resilience and the importance of education as a transformative tool.

In my professional life, I have continued to work tirelessly, currently holding two jobs to ensure a stable life for my family. My community service includes significant contributions as the Executive Director of the Portneuf Greenway Foundation, where I spearheaded efforts to enhance local infrastructure, making Pocatello a more connected and vibrant community.
My experience extends to public office, where I advocate for personal freedoms and balanced governance. I strive to represent and vote in the best interests of my constituents, emphasizing the importance of diversity and fresh perspectives in leadership. I am committed to bringing these values to the Bannock County Commission, promoting a future where community and personal growth go hand in hand.

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

Crowder: I’m running for a second term in order to continue to help control spending while providing county services as efficiently as possible.

Bullock: I understand the issues of rural communities. I have worked side by side with all leaders of Bannock County. I appreciate the relationship and dependence of business in Pocatello and Chubbuck. They rely on the workforce and customers residing throughout the region. We have an interdependence upon each other for commerce, entertainment, education, health and safety, and workforce.

I believe we need to continue to encourage and foster growth in local Business, State, County, and City opportunities. We need collaboration to secure grants, partnerships, and economic growth while keeping Bannock County a great place to live.

Archuleta: To serve the people of Bannock County. My experience will help me serve in a good way. Leaders need to be willing to gather all the information concerning an issue before making a decision. We have to look at the issue, not what is the politically correct thing to do or our political parties position. We are elected to serve all the voters. We also have to be willing to listen to others views and have good discussions before making a decision.

Code: Ideology has no place at the county level. I was disappointed to see some very strong ideology forcing decisions recently. Fear-mongering has no place and needs to cease. The facts must be presented accurately.

I would like to explore grant funding for the county. Federal grants return the money Bannock County citizens pay in federal taxes back to Bannock County to improve our lives.

A vote for me is a vote for someone new, not the same old commission that has run Bannock County for years. It is time for a different perspective because what has changed with a male-dominated commission over all these years?

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

Crowder: The most immediate need that we faced when I took office in January of last year was to cap the property tax portion of spending. In the last fiscal year this was accomplished, and I will work to see that continue.

Ken Bullock: I believe we need good employer-employee relationships with county employees. My experience has taught me it is more effective to maintain good employees than continuing to find, hire, and train new. I will work closely with department heads in maintaining a fiscally responsible budget. Bannock County needs good relationships with other counties in Southeast Idaho. I promise to work with leaders of communities in those counties. I have served on boards representing multiple counties.

Bannock County plays a pivotal role in Southeast Idaho and needs someone with my experience and background to keep us progressing economically, environmentally, and politically. I look forward to the opportunity. I believe in communication, relationships, and working together.

Archuleta: My first and foremost issue is our tax funds being used to benefit the Couty as a whole. I think we need to operate the Wellness Center better and bring more revenue in to cover it’s operational costs.

The hospital emergency room operations is a shambles since the hospital contracted those services out to the Emergency Room Doctors. This is a life and death situation and I witnessed and been through long waiting periods in their waiting room. It wasn’t like that before and Bannock County should be at the table since we pay for indigent emergency medical services.

Code: I would like to see the Wellness Complex better maintained. I would also like to see the Downey Fairgrounds and the fairgrounds in Pocatello treated the same way, with money spent in both locations. Our County Fair is vital to the South County residents.

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

Crowder: There is a substantial backlog of deferred maintenance. We’ve addressed some of that this year by allocating grant funds toward these needs. I will work to help increase grant funding to resolve this long-standing problem. As we catch up on the backlog, we need to put in place a regular, routine maintenance program.

Ken Bullock: Bannock County plays a pivotal role in Southeast Idaho and needs someone with my experience and background to keep us progressing economically, environmentally, and politically. I look forward to the opportunity. I believe in communication, relationships, and working together

Archuleta: Taxation is always the main concern for people and growth. My question concerning growth is where are we going to get out our food if we keep building on the land used to grow it?

Yes we need growth to increase our population and tax base, but we also should be concerned about the growth of commercial housing operations that set the rents in our area artificially high, and take advantage of young adults and college students.

Code: Lowering property taxes is the best way to help Bannock County Residents. This is not something the commission can do, but we can influence state legislators to help bring down property taxes. I am working on legislation to allow homeowners who own and live in a duplex to be given the homeowners exemption on the entire property, not just the half they live in. There may be other ways to influence legislation to lower taxes. That is the role of the County Commission. Cutting budgets will help, but property tax reform is necessary for the long run.

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

Crowder: All residents of Bannock County should benefit from reduced spending and lower taxes. I am available to meet with constituents and answer their questions, whether in one-on-one meetings or in group settings. During the recent debate over solar farms, I sat down with people on both sides of the issue to listen to their views.

I’ve been active on several boards and regularly attend meetings with the Chamber of Commerce, the Senior Activities Center, the Bannock County Fair, Connor Academy, the Bannock County Veterans Memorial Association, the Downton Liona Club, and other groups.

Ken Bullock: Through my years of service as Mayor and Commissioner, I have felt I do not represent a party. I represent everyone in making necessary decisions. Laws and ordinances have been passed to serve as guidelines to manage matters in the county. Good listening and communication skills are essential to managing the needs, desires, and demands of the county. I will be available and willing to communicate with everyone. People won’t always agree with every decision, but they can understand the process and results better with open communication. We may not always agree, but should be able to understand.

Archuleta: I already represent constituents with differing views as chairman of the Shoshone-Bannock Jr./Sr. High School board. I have had the pleasure of serving on numerous board of directors for different organizations since the time I was sixteen years old. I learned over to years to open my ears and eyes and to study the written materials before making a decision. The Public hearing and community meeting process are invaluable to finding out where the people stand. You must hear them out.

Code: The commission should hold its meetings in towns other than Pocatello. At least once a quarter, they should visit and hold meetings in each small town in Bannock County. That way, the citizens would have access to the commission in their towns. This access would help communication between the citizens and the commission.

I am personally heavily involved in the community and meet with many new people at events. As I stated earlier, ideology has no place at the county level. Every person in Bannock County is my constituent.

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

Crowder: While some progress has been made, County salaries continue to lag behind. Moving away from vehicle leases to purchases will help with the budget. The Commissioners have taken steps to reduce costs associated with the Bannock County Event Center.

Ken Bullock: Without being part of the budgeting process, I feel it would be unfair to offer an opinion in specifics in the budget. A lot of work is involved in the budgeting process from input from departments, current and future needs and demands, and matching costs with revenue streams. I have been in budgeting processes throughout my life in business, governmental, and personal ventures. I feel confident in my abilities to add value to the process.

Archuleta: I was the treasure of the school board and had to developed budgets. I don’t know the cuts that need to be made, at this time, but I can and will carefully study them. The budget hearing process is the most important time for citizens to make their views known to the Commissioners. We also have the appeals process for property takes.

Code: Employees pay and benefits should be the number one budget item that may need more funding. With the cooperation of the department heads, cuts to any budget can be made. Every department in the county tries to keep its budget down. The commission’s role is to help the department heads if they ask for it to lower budgets.

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

Crowder: The media plays an important role in government, as they act as the ‘watchdog’ over government actions. The other commissioners and I have worked hard to maintain transparency and to be available to the press.

Ken Bullock: Unfortunately, all county residents can’t be a part of every meeting in the county. The media can play a vital role on sharing the content of public meetings to the world. The process should be open and available. Proper communication in every means should be encouraged between County personnel and the media in the area especially when information needs to be shared with residents.

Archuleta: As a past member of the news media I believe communication is key to an informed citizen. County Commissioners, in my news reporter days, used to make themselves available for interviews. I believe in that practice and will do it.

Code: The commissioners need to be open and honest with the media. The media is responsible for reporting what is happening in the county. It is the commission’s responsibility to be accessible to the media and answer their questions. Sometimes, the only information the public gets is from the media.

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

Crowder: I’m not sure what can be done to increase voter turnout and participation. We post all our meetings on our website and all meetings are recorded on our YouTube channel. The unfortunate fact is that there are many levels of government impacting our lives and it is quite difficult to follow what all of them are doing.

Ken Bullock: I have always felt low turnout can mean a variety of reasons. They could all agree with what is going on, they could be totally disgusted and have given up, or they don’t feel part of the process. Whatever the reason, and I leave the analysis to smarter folks than myself, we need to improve on the communication process of getting voters to the polls. Everyone can have a voice in the system and need to feel each voice can and will be heard.

Archuleta: By getting back to the basics and returning respect to voting as a convention . People want to be heard! People want to have people in office who will listen them and their concerns. People are tired of the constant hate speech that has become the norm. We can’t accept that. Pocatello and Bannock County are better than that.

I plan to go door to door during my campaign. We can’t be afraid of someone who has a different point of view. I went to war to protect that person’s right to be free and have their own opinion. I am a patriate who has known and have friends from several points of view. I could sit down and break bread with people in the other political party and have great discussions without hating each other. Thats how we grow election participation by inviting people to take part in by voting by inviting everyone to participate by doing their duty as citizens by voting.

Code: We should open our primaries so that everyone can vote on their representation. When only one party has a candidate, the people from the other party are not allowed to vote for their representatives.

We need to make it easier to vote, not more difficult. When we engage our citizens in the process, they will make more informed decisions on their elected officials.