The Republican primary election for Idaho Senate District 26, set for May 17, features a contested field in which the winner will likely face Democrat Ron Taylor—who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary—and independent candidate Don Lappin.
The Republican candidates for the seat are Hailey resident Eric Parker and current District 25 state Rep. Laurie Lickley, a Jerome County resident whose term is set to expire this year, when her county is folded into a new-look District 26. The Republican candidates recently shared their opinions on some of the issues facing the district, which includes Blaine, Lincoln and Jerome counties.
The candidates both look to minimize the government’s regulation of small businesses in the district.
“I will always vote for small businesses, the working class and their families,” Parker said. “I know what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck, and I will always prioritize the hard-working families that make up our small-business community.”
Parker believes that too many government licensing requirements hurt local beef producers and would look to remove some of the current requirements that would help producers distribute their beef locally. Parker also believes it is important to retain the local-option taxes assessed in Blaine County.
Parker, who works as an electrician, gained attention for his participation in the 2014 armed standoff in Nevada that pitted rancher Cliven Bundy and his supporters against federal agents in a dispute over the use of public lands. Parker faced felony federal charges for his role but ultimately avoided conviction and pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor charge.
Lickley, formerly the Idaho Cattle Association’s president, believes similarly that small businesses and local producers are critical to the district’s success. During her tenure as state representative, Lickley supported pro-business legislation, she said. In particular, she supported the removal of the sales tax exemption for custom meat processing and supported the largest tax-relief package in Idaho’s history.
“Idaho’s small businesses are the backbone of our communities,” she said. “As a legislative body, we have worked hard to remove red tape from our small businesses and keep regulatory burdens minimal.”
With water rights being a significant concern in the district, Lickley believes that the water issue is a property-rights issue as well, and that the Idaho Constitution protects the water access of the greater community.
“Farmers, ranchers, communities and municipalities throughout District 26 are making impossible decisions about how to use our limited water supplies,” she said. “Idaho leads the nation in water rights adjudication, and the Snake River Basin adjudication determined the nature of water rights in this area. Water rights are property rights.”
The candidates also look to prioritize public lands use, and the protection of Idaho’s natural beauty.
“Public lands access is very important to me,” Parker said. “Whether my family and I are hunting, camping, or just out on a day trip looking for the next best picture, we spend a lot of time on our public land. That’s why I will always advocate for the best management and the most access possible.”
Parker is an ardent supporter of the BLM’s Good Neighbor Authority, which authorizes states, counties and federally recognized Indian tribes to conduct certain projects on federal lands in pursuit of specified land management goals.
Lickley has spent decades working with government agencies to provide access to the state’s public lands, she said.
“Sixty-one percent of Idaho is covered in federal lands, and I have spent the last 20-plus years working on responsible land management,” she said. “I’ve worked with the Bureau of Land Management/Interior and the Forest Service/USDA and their agencies on endangered-species issues, stock water rights, wildfires, grazing preferences, flexible grazing, permit renewals, NEPA, Equal Access to Justice Act, etc. I love Idaho’s natural resources and hope to help preserve and protect them.”
When it comes to education, the candidates both believe that the children are the future, and they must be offered quality education to ensure future success.
“Education is freedom,” Lickley said. “I have long been a proponent and supporter of early-childhood educational resources for our parents, our businesses and our communities. I have a seat on the Idaho Behavioral Health Council and worked collectively to establish mental and behavioral health services for our youth.”
Parker believes that parents’ choice in how their children receive an education is of utmost importance.
“I believe parents know what’s best for their children in choosing their education,” he said. “The children deserve to receive the best education in our district, be it in public, charter, private schools, or in their own homes.”
Republican primaries are “closed” primaries, meaning they are open only to registered Republican voters.
The general election is set for Tuesday, Nov. 8.