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BoiseDev – Three candidates vie for GOP nomination for Ada County Commission seat

Tom Dayley, Dawn Retzlaff and Sharon Ullman. Courtesy of BoiseDev.com

Originally published on April 24, 2022 on BoiseDev.com

Three Republicans are hoping to get the nod from the GOP to be the nominee to face off for a seat on the Ada County Commission.

With Commissioner Kendra Kenyon, a Democrat, stepping down from her seat at the end of the year it leaves the field wide open for a replacement on the three-seat commission for a two-year term. The winner of this contest will go on the face-off with Democrat Tricia Nilsson for the seat, which is one of three commissioners in Idaho’s largest county.

BoiseDev did interviews with all three candidates. In alphabetical order, here are brief summaries of their backgrounds and policy positions for you to read before you hit the ballot box:

Tom Dayley

A familiar face representing Idaho in Washington D.C. and at the State Capitol is hoping to bring his experience to the Ada County Commission.

If elected, Tom Dayley hopes to focus on building relationships with constituents and other local and state government partners to find ways to cut county spending and develop reforms to keep as many people safely out of jail as possible to keep taxpayer costs down. He said his long history of working in federal and state government gives him the ability to work with people of all political parties and ideas to find solutions, not conflict.

Dayley described an instance in his first year as a State Legislator in 2013 when his fellow seatmate disagreed with him on how to vote on a particular bill. He left the legislature in 2019 after rising to the post of House Judiciary and Rules Committee Chairman.

(My seatmate and I) had a disagreement and we were talking about why and I said ‘that’s why there are 70 of us in the legislature so we have 70 opinions so that way we can talk about it, sort it out and make a decision’,” Dayley said. “That’s what I think I can bring to the table more effectively than the other two candidates.”

Dayley worked in Washington D.C. as an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, President George H. Bush and President Donald Trump in the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Education and the Department of Health & Human Services.

He also had stints working at the U.S. Capitol for Idaho Rep. George Hansen, Senator James McClure, Senator Steve Symms, Senator Dirk Kempthorne and Senator Larry Craig. In Idaho, he ran the Idaho Farm Bureau, the Farm Service Agency and served as a Division Administrator for the Idaho State Department of Agriculture.

Dayley pointed to legislation like the 2022 bill creating a state funding mechanism for public defenders in exchange for property tax relief as the type of solution he would like to broker to help bring county tax cuts. He also said if elected he plans to meet extensively with each county department head to determine what they need to spend and what they can cut.

Like many Southwest Boise residents, Dayley also heard concerns from residents of the area about the City of Boise’s initial proposal to develop the Murgoitio site off of Victory Road with homes and a smaller park last summer. Dayley said he doesn’t have a distinct plan of action in mind for the problem at this time, but he would like to sit down with the City of Boise to “look at options.”

Dayley said he has no interest in defunding the police in any way, but if he is elected he said there are ways the county can help keep jail costs down and help residents return to work instead of wasting time in jail while they await trial. He said Ada County should institute an appeal process for probation violations, allowing those who commit a minor violation a chance to make their case and potentially resolve procedural disputes that could arise due to the high caseloads of probation officers, public defenders and others.

He said if the statistics show Ada County’s population has grown enough that more jail space is required he would support going out for a bond to ask the voters for funding it. But, he said finding other solutions to keep numbers low is also important.

“If somebody goes back into the jail for two years (after a minor probation violation), that’s $50 a day to be in jail. Fifty dollars a day doesn’t help the taxpayer and it doesn’t help the inmate. That doesn’t help anybody.”

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