IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - You've seen and heard the political ads for Idaho's 2nd Congressional District race. You can tell it is a hotly-contested one, but how well do you really know the candidates? Bryan Smith is challenging incumbent Mike Simpson in the Republican primary. May 20. Democrat Richard Stallings will wait to see which candidate he will face in the general election this fall. Eyewitness News anchor Todd Kunz interviewed all three and asked them about federal land management.
"Idaho could really help its economy if we could just access the resources that we have. So I have advocated getting the lands back from the federal government. The state of Idaho would do a much better job managing the state lands. The counties also would do so, a much better job, on a local level. This is something the Idaho Republican Party wants done. This is something the National Republican Party has come out and signed a resolution last summer that said that the federal lands should be given back to the states in the West. I have supported that," said Republican challenger Bryan Smith.
"You know, I have supported Gov. (Butch) Otter looking at how we can better manage these public lands and whether the state can take over some of the management activities that currently exist within the federal government. And I think we can do some of those things. The governor has proposed some management alternatives for the state of Idaho and the state Legislature has put an interim committee together to look at transfer of federal lands to the state. Management of the federal lands by the state is probably a better way to look at it, but I think we can do better than we've done in the past," said Republican incumbent Mike Simpson.
"Some will say, let Idaho takeover the public lands. Idaho can't afford the public lands. It can't afford the current lands that we have now and they are managing very poorly. If you compare state lands with federal lands, federal lands are much better managed. So I think the state does not have the resources. I think the cattlemen and other livestock grazers want the public lands to remain the way they are because if they owned the lands, if we sold it outright to the cattlemen, they would have to pay property taxes on it. Todd, they don't want to pay property taxes on it. They like the current operation where they can rent, put their cattle or their sheep on the land, use it, and then government continue to maintain it for them," said Democratic challenger Richard Stallings.