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Absentees, Libertarians and NIMBY

Balloting begins

A historic number of absentee ballots are heading out to Ada County voters this week, upward of 40,000, in response to a county mailing and follow-up postcards from Republicans and Democrats. Another 12,000 will go out next week.

County residents can vote as soon as they get their ballots—meaning the election begins in earnest in Ada County this week. Which means the millions of dollars spent on attack ads and debates in the coming weeks could be all for naught for some voters.

But the county wants you to know that if you requested an absentee ballot, you must vote absentee, not at the polling place. And you cannot return absentee ballots to your polling place; they go to the Public Safety Building at 7180 Barrister Dr. or to the County Courthouse at 200 W. Front St.

Or you can mail them for the cost of a stamp. BW has been talking to candidates who are both excited and nervous about the absentee numbers. But Libertarian James Oyler in District 18 told correspondent Teresa Shipley that he's not spending any money to "get out the vote."

Oyler in 18

Being a Republican in Idaho is like being a Mormon missionary in Utah—it's kind of redundant.

So it's exciting to see someone from a different party run, even if he doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell.

Libertarian James Oyler is making his second bid for the Statehouse this year in Boise's District 18. He's running against Democratic incumbent Phylis King and Republican Becky Young. Though he laughs when he says it, he's pretty clear about why he's running.

"Self-defense," Oyler said. "Nobody's going to protect my interests but me. I think there are a lot of people out there like me, and they don't have anybody representing their position."

While a majority of Democratic candidates bemoan the lack of public transit in the valley and vast numbers of Republican competitors cite the sickly economy as their platform mantras, Oyler says we've just got plain too many laws already.

"There are 22,000-plus laws on the books as of the [last legislative season]. I was kind of pleased about that because [it means] we've lost a couple of thousand. The first question should always be how [we can] accomplish a task without coming up with a law," he said.

Contrary to other politicians who tout government as the ultimate solution to problems, Oyler stresses how a lack of political involvement might actually be the best medicine.

"I'm really not anti-government, but I am against the idea that we always turn to government as if it's some sort of magical creature that will resolve our problems," he said.

Oyler has his doctorate in psychology, and it shows. When asked how he "feels" about certain issues, he invariably replies that he'd rather communicate how he thinks, because talking about feelings is adolescent.

So what does he "think" is the biggest issue affecting Idaho voters today?

"For people to leave each other alone, to respect the boundaries of each individual person ..." he said. "The idea that my life is my own as long as it's not hurting anybody else. That's a fundamental precept in the thinking of most Libertarians."

He certainly doesn't identify with Democrats or Republicans, likening the liberal left to communism and the far right to fascism.

"They're both dictatorships," he said.

Strict adherence to his principles is another reason why he refused to fill out all but two candidate questionnaires, the Idaho Statesman's voters' guide and a survey from a home schooling group.

"I already know what they have to say when I get their questionnaires," he said of those he did not answer. "It's a divisive game. Everybody wants their share of the pie."

That means that Oyler doesn't really have, or accept, any endorsements. So far he said he's spent about $30 total on his campaign, which is "the price of admission at the Secretary of State's Office," he said. He doesn't send out fliers; he doesn't go door knocking.

"I'm not for sale," he said.

Though he says he knows he or any Libertarian is unlikely to win in Idaho, he's happy to be in the race.

"At least there's one individual in District 18 that does represent me and ... they're willing to join the political process in order to be represented," he said.

Democrat Phylis King is happy Oyler is running, too.

"Just because he's a Libertarian, I think he'll pull five or six hundred votes from my opponent, and so I think that helps me," she said.

—Teresa Shipley

TrICA troubles

BW freelancer Breland Draper sent this dispatch from the most recent North End Neighborhood Association meeting:

Plans by the Treasure Valley Institute for Children's Art to renovate the old Immanuel Methodist Episcopal Church on 14th and Eastman streets are moving along much more slowly than anticipated. A group called Save 14th Street has arisen during the last several months and voiced concerns regarding TrICA's project, specifically the traffic and parking stresses it may bring to the street.

According to Kerena Youtz, one of the more vocal neighbors, the group said that it first supported TrICA's efforts to build up the community but now feels that some of the plans may interfere with the neighborhood.

TrICA, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, bought the church earlier this year with plans to turn the historic building into a center consisting of a library, dance studio, performance space and employee offices.

Youtz says that no one in the neighborhood is against TrICA's dance programs but that there are a few concerns regarding the organization's plans to hold weddings and business conferences in the building. She fears the outcome of increased traffic and parking that these events would draw to the residential area.

To lessen the fears of streets packed with cars, TrICA purchased the foreclosed house next door at 1509/1511 N. 14th St. and plans to convert the lot to a children's garden and a parking area to accommodate about 20 vehicles. But this response just brought up another problem for the neighborhood. The North End is known for its historic and architecturally diverse homes, and the neighbors fear that in order to put up a parking lot, TrICA will have to demolish the 100-year old house next door.

TrICA has not yet come up with a plan for the house but feels confident that the project can be completed without tearing it down. They have even hinted at plans to renovate the house for office space.

At a recent North End Neighborhood Association meeting TrICA's founder and leader Jon Swarthout said that before dealing with the lot next door, they have six months of restoration, including work on the structural support of the church and remediation of meth residue and lead paint. For now, the fate of 14th Street is unknown.

—Breland Draper

war in Iraq

U.S. CASUALTIES: As of Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008, 4,181 U.S. service members (including 31 Idahoans) have died since the war in Iraq began in March 2003: 3,385 in combat and 796 from non-combat-related incidents and accidents. Injured service members total 30,702. In the last week, four U.S. soldiers died.

Since President George W. Bush declared "mission accomplished" aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, 4,031 soldiers have died.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Defense

IRAQI CIVILIAN DEATHS: Estimated between 88,253 and 96,340.

Source: iraqbodycount.net

COST OF IRAQ WAR: $560,443,029,446

Source: costofwar.com

—Nathaniel Hoffman

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