Down ballot races, ACLU and VCA


And now for a wrap up on those races you wish you'd paid a little more attention to once you finally got your ballot in your hot little hands.

Three of five Ada County Highway District commission seats were up for grabs, as well as another three at-large trustee seats at the College of Western Idaho.

The ACHD Three

With several large projects finally underway after years of discussion—among them the East Park Center Bridge—and a few big ones yet to tackle (like the Three Cities River Crossing), ACHD's new commission will hit the ground running.

In District 1, incumbent and commission president Carol McKee fought off three opponents to keep a seat on the commission. Numbers out of the Secretary of State's Office posted just before 11 p.m Tuesday night had McKee with a fairly comfortable lead over Rocky Bogert, Robert Crawford and George Pescaru. District 1 includes Southeast Boise and Ada County bound by Rocky Canyon Road, Cole Road, Kuna Mora Road and the Elmore County line.

As BW headed to press, the incumbent in District 2 was still fighting it out with her opponent. Rebecca Arnold held a steady six-point lead over Jim Neill by the latter part of the night; however, with the numbers as close as they were, citydesk was hesitant to call it a surefire victory for Arnold. Should she be declared the winner of another two-year term, Arnold will represent the geographical center of Ada County.

And in District 5, the vote was split among a whopping seven candidates. As of press time, Sara Baker was leading the pack with Rod Beck in a comfortable second place. Trailing behind were David Zaremba, John Tomkinson, Stephen Loop, Gordon Simpson and Robert Switzer respectively. If Baker hangs on to her lead, she'll spend the next four years representing Northwest Ada County.

More Fees, Please

But enough talk about the commission races, especially since it was the department's interest in a registration fee hike that had voters talking.

Ada County voters had their say so on whether they'd be willing to pay higher vehicle registration fees in order to help fund sidewalks, crosswalks and flashing lights near schools, the rebuilding of intersections to eliminate congestion, coordinated traffic signals and new bike lanes.

And although the numbers weren't all in by press time, it was pretty safe to say the fee hike was a done deal, with overwhelming support from voters for the increase.

The CWI Five

The College of Western Idaho has two new trustee-elects and three of its current trustees will keep the positions they already occupy.

Incumbents Guy Hurlbutt, Mary Niland and Mark Dunham all held onto their seats. Hurlbutt and Dunham met without much fuss facing only write-in opposition, while Niland's call was a little closer (so long as early numbers held).

In the two races for two-year terms, the list of hopefuls was long. Stan Bastian looked to be in solid position to best opponents Bruce Wong, Daniel Dunham (no relation to Mark Dunham) and Stephen Woychick. And in the race for Seat 2, Tammy Ray came out in front of a field of three other candidates, including Jim Rice, Gordon Browning and Martin Scheffer.

Just a reminder: these results are as of 11 p.m. Tuesday night and do not reflect the official winners in any race. For complete official results, visit

—Rachael Daigle

ACLU taps new leader

Monica Hopkins, who has worked in several local nonprofit organizations, will take the helm at the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho on Dec. 1.

"I think that people may have a perception of what the ACLU is and does," Hopkins told citydesk. "I look forward to talking to more Idahoans about what the ACLU actually is and does."

Hopkins is not a lawyer, but has worked in public affairs and nonprofit organization building.

"I have an understanding of our Constitution's Bill of Rights," she said, adding that the ACLU of Idaho has a staff attorney and a board full of attorneys.

Hopkins plans to continue the group's focus on gay, reproductive, immigrant and prisoner rights.

Hopkins replaces Jack Van Valkenburgh, who stepped down in May; she will be the group's second executive director in its 18-year history.

According to an ACLU announcement:

After moving to Boise from San Francisco in 1997, Hopkins worked as director of development for Planned Parenthood of Idaho and executive director of the Fund for Idaho, a progressive foundation. As the director of development and communications for the Friends of Zoo Boise, she completed a $3.7 million capital campaign to build the African plains exhibit, increased membership by 23 percent and updated the organization's technology and communications practices.

"The work of the ACLU has never been more relevant, and I am deeply honored and humbled to lead the ACLU's efforts throughout our state," Hopkins said in a press release.

Idaho takes it to the Supremes

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens grilled Idaho deputy attorney general Clay Smith on the day before Election Day as Smith argued before the nation's high court that states should have the right to control the payroll systems of counties, school boards and other political subdivisions.

The case stemmed from a 2003 Idaho law that barred employers—both government and some private employers—from deducting union political contributions from workers' paychecks. Most of the law has been struck down, but the state appealed the narrow issue of whether it could control local jurisdictions' payroll systems. It went all the way to the Supreme Court.

While Smith tried to stay focused on state's rights, the justices wanted to know if the case touched on the First Amendment rights of union members.

"But it seems that what is banned by the statute is union speech. Is any other organization affected? Does the ban affect any other organization? Isn't it simply union speech that's at stake?" Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked.

Washington, D.C., labor attorney Jeremiah Collins represented Idaho unions.

The case will be decided at a later date. See for a link to the full transcript of oral arguments.

war in Iraq

U.S. CASUALTIES: As of Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008, 4,193 U.S. service members (including 31 Idahoans) have died since the war in Iraq began in March 2003: 3,388 in combat and 805 from non-combat-related incidents and accidents. Injured service members total 30,764. In the last week, two U.S. soldiers died.

Since President George W. Bush declared "mission accomplished" aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, 4,043 soldiers have died.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Defense

IRAQI CIVILIAN DEATHS: Estimated between 88,851 and 96,976.


COST OF IRAQ WAR: $568,288,121,070


—Nathaniel Hoffman

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