Jack Nelson

(candidate for Latah County Commissioner, district 3)

1. Latah County law enforcement officers earn significantly less than their counterparts in the city of Moscow. For example, the hourly wage for a patrol deputy at the sheriff’s office with 10 years of Service is $17.36, while the hourly wage for a patrol officer at Moscow with 3 years of service is $20.04. Do you want to eliminate that pay differential, and if so, how would you plan to do that?
I would love to eliminate the pay differential by raising the pay of County law enforcement officers, but the fact is that the County has a limited budget. If the County gives more to its law enforcement employees, money would have to be taken away from some other county service as we have no surplus in our present budget. The job of the Commissioners is to distribute the budget equitably and we struggle doing this every year. Also, law enforcement is not the only area we see pay deficiency, we lose many employees to the University of Idaho and the city from other departments as well. I will continue to try and find funding that would alleviate these deficiencies.

2. Do you believe that a vocal minority of residents too frequently get their way over the wishes of a less political majority? What are your thoughts and feelings on this?
I really do believe we hear only from a minority of the people. For example, a good-sized attendance at a public meeting is around 100 people, so that means there are about 35,000 people whose voices and opinions aren’t being heard. Another example is the County’s Board of Equalization that hears tax protests. In any given year, the Commissioners will hear between 50 and 100 protests, but with over 16,000 parcels in the County, it seems clear that there are many people who either agree with or just accept the assessment and pay their taxes. I would love to have more people – on both sides of an issue – show up for public meetings. I think we public officials need to do a better job of publicizing meetings and encouraging people to attend so they can voice their opinions. I feel I am a good listener and would love to have more public input.

3. Do you suggest that voters approve Idaho Proposition 2 (the proposition that requires taxpayers to pay compensation to landowners if land use rules affect their property)?
I am a strong supporter of private property rights, however, I feel most people want some degree of protection from land uses that would affect their property, so if you want some protection you have to give up some rights. The big question is how far do we go with those ordinances. I do not support Proposition 2 because I feel it would be very detrimental for local government. I feel the part of Proposition 2 that deals with imminent domain was adequately corrected by the Idaho State Legislation last session. The takings issue of Proposition 2 is written so that no matter what side of a land use issue you are on there is a good chance that local government would be litigated to pay for damage. This would probably make it necessary to discontinue any land use planning or ordinances. In addition, it upsets me that interests from the East Coast are behind the Proposition 2.

4. Do you support or oppose a county ordinance to limit the amount of light from rural yard lights? Why?
The County Planning Commission dropped the ordinance because of all the opposition to it and I agree that was the right thing to do at this time. While there are legitimate cases of light trespassing and pollution, I believe and hope that people would be neighborly and work these problems out among themselves without having to make new laws. There are many new and improved light shields and shades that are available at your local utility companies and I feel if used properly can resolve many lighting issues.

5. What kinds of economic development should be encouraged and what kinds discouraged in Latah County? Please respond using examples like the proposed Naylor Farms mining operation and the proposed Eid Road dairy.
I’m sure we would all like new business that are friendly to the environment, provide a wide range of employment from unskilled to highly professional positions that also provide a good wage and benefits and at the same time provide a good local tax base. There are other kinds of business that might be considered less friendly to the environment, but placed in the right locations can be very beneficial to the economy of Latah County and provide services and products that are desired by the residence of Latah County. One thing I would like to see is more employment opportunities in our smaller rural towns as it is costly to commute to Moscow or Pullman and this would also increase tax base in these small towns and school districts. An example is the Potting Shed Creations in Troy that purchased a school building which was tax exempt and is now on the local tax roll and in addition offering employment for around 40 people.

6. Please list your campaign websites, email address, and phone numbers, and add any biographical information or position statements you wish.

Email address:

Business phone: 208 883-2271

Home phone: 208 835-3502

I am a native of Latah County. After graduating from the University of Idaho with a degree in Agricultural Economics, I worked for 15 years in the banking and financial management industries. For the next 20 plus years I worked as a self-employed farmer and have served the last 5 plus years as one of the Latah County Commissioners. During this time I have served on the Whitepine School Board, part of that time as chairman and I have served on the board of directors of several local grower associations. In 1991, I was selected as Latah County conservation farmer of the year.

My service on educational and commodity boards showed me that I really enjoy working with people and prompted me to run for County Commissioner. I have enjoyed the opportunity very much. I am in good heath and am not ready to retire and put my feet up. I can’t think of any thing else I would rather do than serve as your County Commissioner.

Position Statements:

  • I support fiscal discipline to ensure the ongoing soundness of the county budget. My chief responsibility as county commissioner is to set a responsible budget and to manage it through the use of moderate fiscal practices. I remain committed to governing Latah County within budget.
  • I will continue to ask the citizens of Latah County for their input on how to administer their government. My job as commissioner is to listen to what people have to say.
  • I will secure funding for the completion of the Latah Trail, not at the taxpayers’ expense, but through private donations and Idaho Department of Transportation Enhancement grants.
  • Water issues are very important to the future of Latah County and more education to our availability and water recharge needs to be done. In areas that we know at this time that there could be water problems we need to seriously consider how much future development we will allow.
  • Another big responsibility of the county commissioners is finding funding for the maintenance and upgrade of county facilities.

    If anyone would like any additional information to my answers to these questions or any other matter, please contact me.

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