November 2016 Treasure Valley Voters Guide

Welcome to our Voter Guide for November's local races, bonds and levies, as well as the presidential election. Compare candidates' views on the issues side by side and create your own ballot, which you can then print or email.

Election Day:

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...Please note: Candidates' responses have not been edited except for libel.

Idaho Senate District 16

Incumbent: Democrat Grant Burgoyne Term: Two yearsSalary: $16,684Note: Ryan Thompson is running as a write-in.

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    Grant Burgoyne

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    Ryan McDonald

  • Ryan Thompson

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Biographical Information

Name your three priorities for Idaho. Do you support current policy on them? if not, describe your alternate plan. How would you pay for your proposals that have costs associated with them?

How should Idaho address the health care needs of the 78,000 residents in the so-called gap population? Do you support Medicaid expansion in some form? Some other proposal? Please address funding for the option you prefer.

What is the state's obligation to public schools? Is Idaho spending enough on buildings, teachers and operations? How can Idaho improve its go-on rate for students leaving high school?

What is your position on the relationship between the federal government, the states and local governments? Is the state right or wrong to hinder or pre-empt action on the local level? Should the state work to take more ownership or control of federal lands in Idaho?

Name three actions taken by the Legislature this past session that you opposed. Name three you supported or would support. Explain.

What is the proper role of a part-time citizen Legislature? Do you think Idaho’s current system works? Does the Legislature function well or do you see need for changes or improvements?

Do you support your party’s presidential nominee? Explain. Include in your answer who you plan to vote for and why.

Have you been convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, a misdemeanor or felony or had a withheld judgment? If so, what, when and where?

Have you or a company you owned filed bankruptcy? If so, when and where?

Age 66
Education B.A. 1975, University of Idaho; J.D. 1988, University of Kansas
Prior political experience I represent District 16 in the Idaho Senate (2014 - present), and serve as the Minority Caucus Chair. I was in the Idaho House of Representatives (2008 - 2014), and served as the Assistant Minority Leader (2012 - 2014). Prior to that I volunteered as a Democratic precinct captain, legislative district chair, Ada County Chair, 1992 Platform Committee Chair, and as a member of the Democratic National Committee. I volunteered on two gubernatorial campaigns for former Governor Cecil Andrus. I also worked for former Secretary of State Pete T. Cenarrusa with responsibilities pertaining to elections and campaign contribution disclosures.
Civic involvement I have volunteered on Boise School district committees, held various volunteer positions involving the legal profession, and served as an Adjunct Professor at BSU. I also serve on a number of committees, including the Idaho Criminal Justice Commission and the Idaho Supreme Court's Guardianship and Conservatorship Committee.
Years living in Idaho 43 in Idaho and 39 years in Boise.
Family My wife, Christy, and I have been married for 38 years. We have two children and three grandchildren.
1. Education, Training and Economic Opportunity. A skilled, educated workforce is critical to economic opportunity, but we need to bring down student costs and debt. I helped pass bills for high school students to earn college credits free of charge, saving taxpayers millions because these credits cost far more in college. I also helped pass bills creating new investments and good paying jobs. 2. Medicaid Expansion. It's the right thing to do, will save Idaho taxpayers many millions of dollars, and will grow our economy. It passed the Senate with my support. Its failure on a party line vote in the House is tragic for those in the gap, and bad for Idaho. 3. Stopping the Nonsense. Whether its Bibles in school, loss of local control, a takeover and sell off of federal lands, or pay to play politics favoring special interests, the politicians controlling the Statehouse have it wrong. We need a sustainable economy that works for everyone, realistic minimum wages, stronger privacy and consumer protection, a healthy environment, Add the Words, stronger voting rights, fairer elections and a state that welcomes and respects legal immigrants who want to build a better America.
Medicaid expansion is the right and smart thing to do, and I strongly support it. Senate Bill 1205 (Healthy Idaho) is my preferred approach, but any responsible approach that provides adequate health care to the gap population, and can pass, will get my vote. Medicaid expansion will save Idaho taxpayers millions of dollars by allowing us to shut down existing state and local indigency programs which are expensive and inefficient. This will more than offset the state's share of the expansion costs. The infusion of federal expansion money into Idaho will grow the economy, particularly in the Treasure Valley which is a medical center for parts of three states.
The state is not meeting its constitutionally required obligation to provide a "uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools." In 2006, the Legislature cut property taxes promising to make up the loss to our schools with state funds. It broke that promise with years of inadequate state funding, forcing most school districts to repeatedly ask voters for override property tax levies. Despite recent increases, state funding is barely at 2009 levels and makes no allowance for student population and inflation increases, leading to larger class sizes, outdated text books and many other shortcomings. Although the new pay formula for teachers is funded, and raises minimum new teacher pay, it is inadequate to retain experienced teachers. To improve the go-on rate, Idaho needs a new pro-education culture that communicates the value and importance of post secondary education and training to our children from a very early age. I have been instrumental in helping high school students earn up two years of college credit free of charge while saving the state millions because those credits cost less in high school than at our colleges and universities.
On local control the Legislature is dead wrong. It tried being a super school board with the Luna Laws and forcing school districts into a state broadband contract riddled with illegalities. Now free to do their own contracting, the districts are doing the same work for much less money. The Legislature wrongly blocks local option authority and local regulation of plastic bags and minimum wages. I oppose a state takeover of federal lands. They will cost the state money it doesn't have, and will have to be sold off and then they will be locked up for private use. Our focus should be on working collaboratively with the federal government on land management, recognizing that when our views are ignored suits may be necessary. The Legislature pretends to champion individual rights and freedom against the federal government. Unfortunately, the politicians running the Statehouse like their power to meddle in others' affairs. They would do well to listen to their criticism of the federal government and work to curb their own abuses of Idaho.
I opposed the Bibles in the schools bill (SB 1342), blocking the power of local governments to regulate plastic bags (HB 372) and minimum wages (HB 463), and SB 1389 permitting the carrying of concealed weapons within cities without a license. These bills were unconstitutional, overrode local citizens' rights to govern themselves, or posed significant public safety issues. I supported the following bills which passed: my bill to permit stalking and harassment victims to obtain civil protection orders (SB 1373); I co-sponsored HB 528 to ensure that sexual assault evidence kits are timely and properly tested, HB 580 repealing the rule that a victim must put up a futile or dangerous resistance in order to convict a rapist, HB 481 giving terminally ill patients the right to try experimental treatments, online voter registration (SB 1297), and HB 458 streamlining and enhancing opportunities for high school students to earn college credits free of charge; and I supported bills to provide indigent criminal defendants adequate defenses. I believe these bills will have a positive effect and benefit on Idahoans' everyday lives.
I believe a part-time citizen Legislature is very important to having a Legislature that looks like, and is representative of, the people of Idaho. Unfortunately, this positive aspect of our system has been overridden by other factors. In a state dominated by one party, too many legislators do not face election opponents who can win. In that environment, even good people can stop listening and representing their constituents as well as they otherwise would. A recent study showed that Idaho has the second oldest Legislature in the nation, and its age is significantly above that of the citizenry. Rural interests remain more powerful than their numbers justify.
I will vote for Hillary Clinton as the best choice.
Age 29
Education B.S. - Boise State University M.S. - Liberty University
Prior political experience None
Civic involvement Volunteer High School Coach, Precinct Committeeman
Years living in Idaho 16
Family Parents married for 30+ years Brother U.S. Navy Two Sisters (1 married living in England & 1 works for Disney)
Twitter page @RyanJMcDonald
My top three priorities for Idaho are balancing the budget, ensuring local wants and needs outweigh federal mandates for our children's education, and supporting the local economy and our citizens. Government waste and abuse is the bane of prosperity, zero-base budgeting is the only viable option. Onerous taxes on small businesses stifle the economy and the pocketbooks of hard working Idahoans. We must stand as a unified state in the face of the ever-increasing burdensome role the Federal government has arbitrarily decided to take. History has shown time and again that once the Federal Government has placed itself in the debate, taking an active role in its administering, it becomes impossible to remove. It is past time Idaho has Legislators more concerned with supporting citizens and local businesses than increasing their own power or lining their own pockets; someone who stands for you and does the right thing, every time.

My plan would not cost the taxpayers of Idaho anything, I am focused in my plan on cutting costs for the individual and giving power back to local decision-makers and protecting the rights of the individual to chart their own course.
Why is it that every time a federal program doesn't work as intended, the only offered fix is to increase it's funding; asking MORE for a broken system? The expansion of Medicaid only allows a broken system to remain, effectively ignoring the rights of the individual and their health. Studies have shown that Medicaid is a system that does too little for too few at too high a cost. I am not saying we leave our lower income and less fortunate to fend for themselves, but there are better solutions than spending millions or more like billions of dollars expanding this system. A solution to this problem would be to study other states such as Arkansas, Florida, and Pennsylvania to find what has worked there and adapt it to a plan that works best in Idaho, for Idahoans.
The Federal Government has no place dictating the education of our children. Funding based off federal testing standards has harmed our children, making them simply a number and ignoring each student's individual learning strengths. Common Core is a disgraceful plan intended to eventually remove the parent from the learning atmosphere in favor of Washington bureaucrats. This is Progressivism at work and will leave our students behind, effectively unprepared for college and the future.

The question of funding is not for me to answer. Local schools are funded by local taxpayers and if they deem it necessary to provide more funding then they will vote to do so. It is not for a state or federal bureaucrat to decide what is best for the local citizens who vote with their dollars.

I believe it is in Idaho's best interest to provide students training more focused on the individual, setting them up for success beyond high school whether that be concurrent enrollment, college, technical schooling, or trade schools.
Simply put, the federal government is too big and pervasive in our daily lives. The federal government is in place to protect and serve the people, not the other way around. It is simply a matter of fact that the states and local municipalities know best how to handle their own land. It cannot be argued that a farmer does not know their land better than a suit in Washington. Further, the 10th Amendment provides a path through which the state of Idaho is directed to run their affairs without onerous Federal oversight. The people of Idaho know what is best for Idaho, not faceless bureaucrats in Washington.
It is hard for me to say there are certain actions taken this past session that I supported or opposed as I was not involved in the discussions. To me being able to hear both sides and make an informed decision is a major piece in discerning if I am for or against certain actions and or legislation. At the end of the day I am for the empowerment of the individual. It is of major importance that we fight for the Constitution and the rights granted within.

For this reason I support legislation that supports the First Amendment and our freedom of speech. It is also important to me that we are not infringed upon, whether that be the First Amendment, the Second, or any other. It is for this reason I support open carry laws. Another piece of legislation I support is Senate Bill 1356 - Alcohol Beverage Catering Permit. We must support and promote our local business.
The part-time citizen Legislature is designed to keep those serving in touch with the realities of daily life in their state. The plan works; there is nothing more that really needs to be said on this. By keeping individuals based in their local communities and facing the same issues as everyone else, it provides the true meaning of representative republicanism.
I am not a supporter of any person, for a person is prone to mistakes. I am a supporter of a set of ideals and principles. It is for this reason that I do not support a candidate simply because he or she has the letter "R" next to their name. My vote is my own and is not owned by any one party. If a candidate supports the principles I believe in then they will have earned my vote.

I expect the same out of any person. I expect to earn your vote by adhering to the ideals and principles we share.

I will not announce who I will vote for in this forum as it is my private right to vote for who I feel is the best suited for the job, the same way that I would respect any individual's right.
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