The Idaho Press partnered with the League of Women Voters to conduct candidate surveys for the May 19 primary. You may also search for your ballot items by address, at vote411.org. Candidates were responsible for grammar and spelling, and answers were limited to 500 characters.
Senate District 9
No contested primaries.
Republican candidate: Abby Lee, Fruitland
House Seat 9A
Democratic primary: No candidates
Ryan Kerby, New Plymouth
Jim Smith, Fruitland
What do you hope to accomplish if elected?
Ryan Kerby: I will continue to make efforts to improve K-12 education in Idaho. I have worked with other legislators to improve Career Technical Education (CTE). We have increased programs, reduced barriers for bringing in industry certified teachers, and this year I helped write, then carried a resolution to change HS graduation standards to better fit the needs of our students who plan to enter CTE fields. CTE will continue to be an emphasis.
Jim Smith: I hope to bring back conservatism to this seat in our district. Everything in my platform focuses on families and improving our state government's impact on them. Better schools, lower taxes, improved opportunities for work and recreation. I feel that we are getting away from the founding principles our country was built upon. I want to work to restore those principles.
What experience has prepared you for this office?
Ryan Kerby: I was born and raised in Idaho, growing up on a dairy. That ag background has been very helpful in the legislature. I worked in education 21 years as a teacher, then 21 years as an administrator. I’m currently the Vice-Chair of the Education Committee, and my years in the field are very helpful. I’ve been married for 37 years, and have two grown married children, and two grandchildren. Family is important to me, and I vote for legislation which reflects family values.
Jim Smith: I have a lifetime of leadership and management experience. I currently own a small chain of fitness centers in Idaho and Oregon. I have had the experience of losing everything in business and recovering through hard work and commitment. In a citizen government, I am not a politician, I AM a citizen. I live the true American Dream and I must earn everything I have. Nothing has been given to me. I want to help future generations to have the American Dream as well and a place they can live it
What changes, if any, would you support related to state funding of public education?
Ryan Kerby: K-12 education is funded by the state’s general fund, and receives about 50% of those monies. I think the legislature has done a solid job of funding education the last five or six years. In 2015 we started the Career Ladder for teachers, and over time that increased starting teacher pay to $40,000. Last session we increased veteran pay significantly. The biggest problem we have in K-12 funding is the disparity between low property value districts and the richer ones.
Jim Smith: I would like to see the current funding better managed. I don't believe we are getting the most bang for our buck. The front lines, where our children are actually the end-users, are the most overlooked. Great teachers are siloed by mandatory objectives and a one size fits all teaching and testing program. All while we protect bad teachers. This is not just an Idaho problem. Give good teachers better pay and the tools they need for success and get out of their way.
What do you see as Idaho's prison system's most important needs and how would you address those?
Ryan Kerby: Overcrowding is a big issue for both prisons and county jails. I think the approach we took this year, which is to improve the funding for probation and parole, is a good start. We are no doubt leaving people incarcerated too long.
Jim Smith: Prisons are big business and we need to change the way we're doing business! Stop sending addicts to prison and start treating them. Jail is an exceptional place to begin treatment but advancing them to prison is a very expensive way to treat an addict. I volunteer in the prison in Ontario. I personally have over 21 years in recovery. My success came from a firm but caring judge in Canyon County many years ago. Plus a great counseling center. My life has been changed permanently.
What do you see as Idaho's most important healthcare system needs and how would you address those?
Ryan Kerby: As we move forward we need more emphasis on telehealth. This can be accomplished by expanding on the current system over time. When this is over, and there is no issue at hand, we need to develop an emergency preparedness plan that includes some of the emergency criteria and benchmarks similar to what the Department of Health and Welfare implemented on the fly early in this pandemic. They bypassed some of the very involved certification criteria for ICU and hospital beds in general, etc.
Jim Smith: Eliminate the ACA in Idaho.
What changes to income, sales and property tax policies would you support?
Ryan Kerby: I don’t see a large need to modify either income or sales taxes. I was prepared to support a cap on the annual increase in property taxes this year. We need to be careful with the limit we choose, however, because property taxes pay for much of the road and bridge maintenance in some of our counties. Differences of opinion regarding that limit, and going home early because of the coronavirus, kept us from getting relief through the legislature.
Jim Smith: I love seeing the Amazon distribution center building in Nampa. We need controlled growth, and a balance on our tax base in each county. Counties cannot sustain being bedroom communities to Ada and Canyon workers. We need commercial and industrial to balance the base. The sales tax is a fair tax but I would like to see groceries added to the tax free items like heating oil, electricity and fuel pellets, etc. We need to look at states like Texas and Florida for the income tax issue.
What measures do you support in updating Idaho's voting processes?
Ryan Kerby: I like what we are doing now, with the option of either in person voting on a certain day, or a mail in ballot if a person so chooses. I’m not a big fan of requiring mail in. Many of my constituents like to go to the polls, and others don’t trust mail-in because of potential fraud.
Jim Smith: We need to keep it clean and valid. Voter ID for everyone. I believe that election day is one of the most patriotic times in our country. We need to keep our current standard.
What are the biggest transportation priorities in Idaho for the next 20 years, and how should the state prepare now to fund those projects?
Ryan Kerby: Our biggest problem will be to continue maintaining and repairing our present system of roads and bridges. I think enough people are concerned with the freeway system that we will get that addressed. What is not getting enough attention is our roads and bridges in rural, low property value counties. The counties, cities, and highway districts are hurting for maintenance especially of bridges, many of which have been designated as not being sound structurally.
Jim Smith: In District 9 we need to see dramatic improvements on Highway 95 between Payette and Weiser. We have at least one fatality each year on the 12 miles run. There is a regular commute from Washington and Adams Counties that is reflective of the numbers years ago in eastern Idaho between Idaho Falls and Ashton. ITD needs to make this Blood Alley are priority with current funding.
Do you support local option sales tax authority for all cities and counties?
Ryan Kerby: I would only vote for this if the funds could be used exclusively for transportation. We can’t add another lane to the freeway between Caldwell and Boise every six to ten years. We have issues with bridges all over the state, and something is going to have to give to address this issue.
Jim Smith: I think the state is already too involved with city and county business. Just like a local taxing district, if local voters approve and local option tax, the state should allow. If we need to change state code in order to do that, let's make it happen.
House Seat 9B
- Democrat: Allen Schmid, Fruitland
- Republican: Judy Boyle, Midvale