BURLEY – incumbent Kelly Anthon is challenged by Bill Drury in a race to become a state senator for District 27.
District 27 includes all counties of Cassia and Oneida, and parts of Minidoka.
EastIdahoNews.com sent the same eight questions to both applicants. Their responses had to be 250 words or less. Their answers below have been edited to fit the word count.
Find out more about Drury’s campaign here.
More information about Anton’s campaign can be found here.
General elections will be held on November 8.
Tell us about yourself – include information about your family, career, education, volunteering and any previous experience in public offices.
Drury: I have been married for 38 years. My wife and I have two children. One is a graduate of the University of Idaho in May of this year and the other is a sophomore at Boise State University.
I have a BA in Information Systems Management from Purdue University. I have worked in IT for 7 years. I changed my career in aviation and am currently working as a commercial airline pilot. I also have a small business at Natural Hoof Care.
I’ve spent most of my life in New Jersey, moving to Idaho in 2015. In New Jersey, I was a member of the Civil Air Patrol, volunteered to a local ambulance company as a paramedic, volunteered for the Helping Hand rescue mission in Philadelphia, and was part of the City to Shore MS annual bike ride planning team. In Idaho, I am a member of the local ham club.
I have never held a political office. I helped several local campaigns in New Jersey and Idaho. I have testified at several committee hearings in Trenton and Boise.
Antoni: I am the seventh generation Idahoan raised on a family farm in Declo, Idaho, where my family has run the farm for over 100 years. My wife grew up in Rupert, Idaho. We got married while I was studying law at the University of Idaho and realized our dream of returning home to southern Idaho.
I practiced as a lawyer in Rupert for many years and served as the City Attorney for the cities of Acequia, Burley, Rupert and Minidoka. Currently I work as the administrator of the city of Rupert, but as a member of their board of directors I also help run the potato companies of the Mart Group. I serve District 27 in the Idaho Senate, and I am lucky to have been elected by my colleagues as majority leader in the Idaho Senate.
I focus on the family. Joelle and I have five children that we adore. Together, we strive to serve our community through our church, service clubs, and schools.
What are your greatest achievements in your personal life or career?
Antoni: Nothing compares to the work we try to do every day in our family life – it brings the most rewards and satisfaction. Professionally, my job in building and protecting rural Idaho communities has been very rewarding. As Idaho’s more urban centers continue to expand, I strive to be an effective voice in Boise for the small towns, rural communities, and farm and ranch farms that have built our state.
Drury: August 2016, my youngest child was diagnosed with leukemia. Keeping my family together and guiding my child through this difficult time is my greatest achievement.
Why are you a member of the Republican / Democratic / Independent / Other Party? Briefly explain your political platform.
Drury: I’ve seen too many good people run for office to make changes only to become the same legislator they wanted to change. This is because the party leadership puts enormous pressure on the legislator to “get involved”. If they don’t “turn on”, there is a risk that they will not receive re-election support.
As an independent I will not worry about it. I will not run the party and will always be called up for re-election. Thanks to this, I will focus on the principles by which I ran and the choices I represent.
My political platform is that the government must be limited and accountable. The role of government is to protect people’s rights and freedoms, not to manage their lives. The legislator must stop writing so many laws and start checking that the laws they wrote are being enforced and seeing how those laws affect Idaho citizens. Finally, the legislator must cease to delegate its constitutionally vested power to the executive.
Antoni: As a Republican, I have endorsed the Party’s advocacy for low taxes, conservative spending and the “lightest touch” of government involvement in our lives as a Republican. I stand for the Republican Party for religious freedom, the right to own and bear arms, and the rule of law (including securing our national borders).
I also support Republican ideals about the separation of federal and state powers and the protection of Idaho’s sovereignty, as set out in the US Constitution.
What are the biggest challenges facing Idaho people?
Antoni: Idaho’s greatest challenge is development. While growth offers many opportunities for Idaho families as Idaho residents, we will face the challenge of meeting its infrastructure, educational and economic needs.
In addition, inflation is a growing challenge, plaguing our nation and households in Idaho. Idaho’s legislature will have to continue to tackle this problem through low taxes and less regulation.
Drury: The three great challenges facing Idaho people today are inflation, uncontrolled increases in property taxes and the loss of individual freedom.
While the state government cannot control the market forces that create inflation, it may not be part of the problem. Eliminating the grocery tax would have an immediate positive effect on Idaho families. Keeping government spending as low as possible and keeping taxes so low would also help reduce the burden of inflation.
Residential properties have been taken over by investors. This resulted in a shortage of available housing and an increase in property taxes. The legislator has to solve this problem by separating property taxes from market speculation. It must also separate real housing from investment housing and tax accordingly.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has shown how quickly the government can take away personal freedom. If your job or business pays the bills, it’s essential. No person or small committee should be able to stop people from earning a living. Two years after the pandemic started, the damage done to people, families and the economy is clear. The legislator has to deal with this before it happens again.
How will you best represent the views of your constituents – even those with different political views?
Drury: I think the best way to express the views of my constituents is by listening. Wanting to be stopped in the street, at the supermarket or at the feed store and listening to people’s concerns will be the best way to represent the people of Boise.
I also plan to organize city halls and use e-mails to dialogue with voters.
Antoni: I have always believed that Idaho’s elected officials represent ALL of their constituents – not just members of their own parties. I listen to all opinions before casting any vote and uphold the saying that “reasonable minds may disagree.”
What role do lobbyists play in Idaho’s policymakers’ decision making?
Antoni: Lobbying efforts can provide important information for elected Idaho officials in resolving important and complex issues, but interest group lobbyists should have limited influence. The legislator should not cast a vote only to satisfy a particular interest group or to obtain a positive assessment or evaluation. As a senator, I have chosen not to consider interest group ratings or rating systems when voting and to simply do what I think is best for my home community and those I represent.
Drury: Lobbyists have too much influence on the decision making of Idaho legislators. At committee hearings, members of the public are not allowed to speak, while lobbyists may testify on behalf of their organization. I have heard legislators say that a vote against / for something would upset some lobby groups. This shows that our legislators have little respect for their constituents.
Businesses and organizations should be able to deal with their concerns with legislators, but not with those of individual citizens.
How can you encourage compromise, debate, and a cross-party approach to new laws in Idaho?
Drury: At the current meeting, the legislator proposed over 800 legal acts. I have no idea how this could actually be discussed or discussed. I can only encourage you to reduce the number of bills proposed and to spend more time on legislation that has real value for the people of Idaho.
Antoni: Honest, direct dialogue is the key to finding the best solutions. When you work towards achieving something good for the Idahoans, it doesn’t matter if your teammate who finds the best answer is a member of a different political party. Finding common ground, listening to others, considering opposing views, and showing respect for others will produce better results for everyone involved. Thanks to this approach, during my tenure in the Senate, I successfully passed many complex laws with cross-party support.
What parts of the Idaho government could benefit from additional state funding? How much of the Idaho government could be improved through financial cuts?
Antoni: Public infrastructure problems across the state, including decaying roads, old bridges, wastewater treatment plants, drinking water systems and the like, are often outdated, poorly maintained, and in desperate need of repair. There should be more funding. Local governments, especially in rural areas, need this support from the state.
Our health and social benefit system should be regularly audited and controlled to reduce fraud and the resulting unnecessary burden on our taxpayers.
Drury: Idaho had a $ 1.5 billion surplus. There are enough funds. I would like to see fewer state governments and restore power to counties and cities. Good government comes when it’s closest to people. The needs of Ada and Canyon are quite different from those of Cassia, Minidoka and Oneida. One issue that should be considered is to investigate how unfunded mandates burden smaller counties in the state and find acceptable solutions.