Some politicians stick to their promises about term limits, and among them is Idaho Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth-Hage. Her vacant seat in Idaho's first congressional district is up for grabs on Tuesday, and no less than four candidates have their sights set on it.
Running for the Democrats is Linda Pall, a lawyer who has her own practice in Moscow, and also teaches business law at Washington State University. Pall has been involved with the Idaho State Democratic Party since the early '70s and first served on the Moscow City Council from 1977-83.
After a 10-year break from local politics, she was reelected to the city council in 1993. She's served ever since and is currently the council president. Her main platform issues are how to take back Idaho's reputation, education and keeping Medicare alive.
"Idaho's political leaders must stand up for human rights and speak out against bigotry and intolerance," she says. "We can't be known as the haven of white supremacists if we want to attract the best for Idaho's economic future."
If elected, Pall says she will promote federal and state partnerships to bring more resources to the classrooms and encourage high academic standards in public schools. Pall would also work to strengthen Medicare, so the program can cover prescription drugs and long-term care.
The difference between Pall and her Republican opponent, C.L. "Butch" Otter, is probably most obvious on the health care issues.
Otter, who has served as Idaho's Lieutenant Governor since 1987, says the current Medicare system will run into financial trouble very soon. Instead of spending more money on it, he says a private insurance solution would work a lot better.
Otter served as a member of the Idaho House of Representatives from 1972-76. He has a lot of political experience, which he says will be a tremendous asset if he's elected to Congress. He previously served on President Ronald Reagan's task force on International Private Enterprise and on the state's Advisory Committee on Investment Technology and Development.
Otter's business background includes tenure as the director of governmental affairs and the board of directors of the Boise-based food processing giant J.R. Simplot, where he also served as the president of Simplot International.
There is quite a step from the boardrooms and the Capitol to the everyday world of Ronald Wittig, who's running on the Libertarian ticket. Wittig makes a living as the manager and operator of the Adams County Waste Site, and he can't remember exactly how many times he has run for office -- but it's six or seven, he says.
"I want to get government out of what it's not constitutionally mandated to be into, like education, for example," says Wittig. "As for the platform, we Libertarians believe you have a right to live your life any way you want to, as long as you don't hurt anybody."
He is for 100 percent personal freedom, but only if accompanied by 110 percent personal responsibility as well. He wants to end the war on drugs, saying that the drug dealers of today create nothing but crime.
"I don't think people would be stoned all the time if drugs were legal," says Wittig. "And if they were, they'd better consider who's paying the bill when they land flat on their faces. It's not fair to just send the bill to the taxpayers for your own mistakes."
The last candidate running for Chenoweth's seat is Kevin Hambsch, a Reform Party candidate. He says he sticks pretty close to the party platform's main issue: to run government as a business. Such a government would eliminate all bureaucracy and pork barrel spending, then carefully use common sense to deliver services at the expected cost and give taxpayers the best value for their dollar.
"We champion the American dream that ordinary people have fought and died for -- democracy, freedom, opportunity for all and hope for the future," says Hambsch, who's a vascular technologist at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. "I'm a fiscal conservative and a social moderate, and I posses the intelligence, honesty, integrity and ideals that our Founding Fathers intended to represent the first district on the federal level."
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