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Legislative candidates talk with District 26 voters in Jerome

People stand in front of campaign tables at the Jerome County Fairgrounds.
Rachel Cohen
Boise State Public Radio
District 26 candidates talk with voters at the Jerome County Fairgrounds.

Voters at a small candidate meet and greet at the Jerome County Fairgrounds this week wanted to talk with those vying for a seat in the state legislature about veterans’ health care, a planned renewable energy development and education funding.

“Housing is the other issue,” said Cheryl Viola, the executive director of the Jerome Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the event. “With the growth that’s happening, with new businesses coming in, is making sure we have enough housing for people when they relocate.”

Issues related to growth and infrastructure – including housing, water and wastewater – have been common points of discussion whether in agricultural Jerome or tourism-based Sun Valley, some candidates said.

Thanks to redistricting, there’s only one incumbent for the three legislative seats in District 26, which includes Blaine, Lincoln and Jerome counties. Each race has a Republican and a Democrat on the ballot.

Democrats have held a Senate seat in the district encompassing the Wood River Valley for more than 40 years, according to the Idaho Democratic Party.

The party is trying to hold onto seats there despite a new district in which Jerome has a slight edge as the population center, while Republican candidates in the district are trying to distance themselves from extremism in the party.

Ron Taylor, a former fire captain from Hailey, is running for the Senate seat as a Democrat. His top issues are education, public lands and water resources.

On another issue, abortion, Taylor said his voice would be important in the statehouse.

“One of the things I would be able to do would be to block any further legislation from going forward that could take any further rights away from women,” he said.

Taylor’s opponent, Republican Rep. Laurie Lickley from Jerome, has out-fundraised him. Lickley has raised about $99,000 compared to Taylor’s $55,000.

As a two-term representative, she has emphasized her experience supporting education and agriculture.

Lickley was a co-sponsor of Idaho’s trigger ban, but she said the state’s abortion laws may be too tight.

“You know, if the life of a mother is in jeopardy, that is a decision that she and her health care provider have got to make the decision, you know, what happens then,” she said.

She said she expects the legislation to come up again next session.

Upcoming District 26 campaign events 

  • Wednesday, Oct. 19, 7-9 p.m. – Moderated by the Jerome Civic Club at the Jerome Public Library 
  • Thursday, Oct. 20, 6 p.m. – Hosted by the Idaho Mountain Express and moderated by Daniel Walton at Mountain Humane in Hailey
  • Thursday, Oct. 27, 7 p.m. – Hosted by the Valley Lions Club at Valley High School in Hazelton

District 26 races

State Representative A

  • Mike Pohanka (R)
  • Ned Burns (D)

State Representative B

  • Jack Nelsen (R) 
  • Karma Metzler Fitzgerald (D)


  • Laurie Lickley (R)
  • Ron C Taylor (D)
As the south-central Idaho reporter, I cover the Magic and Wood River valleys. I also enjoy writing about issues related to health and the environment.