Hancock and Belnap face off again in Jefferson County commissioner race

From left: Scott Hancock and Ty Belnap | Courtesy photos

RIGBY — Jefferson County’s general election is looking somewhat similar to the primary election.

Incumbent Jefferson County Commissioner Scott Hancock won the Republican nomination against Ty Belnap in the May/June primary with 61 percent of the votes.

Belnap wants to try again though. He has filed to run in the general election as an Independent for the District 2 Commissioner Seat.

EastIdahoNews.com sent the same eight questions to each county commission candidate. Their responses, listed below, were required to be 250 words or less.

More information on Belnap can be found on Facebook.

More information about Hancock is available on his Facebook page.

Tell us about yourself—include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any prior experience in public office.

Hancock: I was born in Rigby, raised on a dairy farm in the Garfield area of Jefferson County and have resided in the County for over 60 years.

I graduated from Rigby High School, went on a two-year mission for my church, then back to Ricks College where I earned an associate’s degree.

While at Ricks College, I met my sweetheart, Holly Welch. Together we have raised seven children, which all graduated from Rigby High School. We have 24 grandchildren.

I went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Idaho State University and a master’s degree from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, California. I worked in the heavy construction industry for eight years as an operator, field engineer for Burgraff Construction and five years as cost engineer for Granite Construction.

I worked 27 years at Idaho National Laboratory as a contract administrator/manager and project manager. I am a certified professional contract manager and professional projects manager.

I and my wife own and operate a 550-acre farm full-time, plus run 150 mother cow beef operation.

I have been a Jefferson County commissioner for the last 5+ years. I am currently serving as the chairman of the county board of commissioners. I have served many years in leadership positions in church and community, served on numerous water boards, served the youth as scoutmaster and coached Rigby Youth basketball for over 17 years.

Belnap: I am married to Sandra Belnap (Orme). We have four children and 18 grandchildren. I have been a resident of Idaho my entire life and have been a resident of Jefferson County for the past 47 years.

I graduated from Idaho State University and am nationally certified in the field of Radiological Controls. I have received corporate recognition awards in engineering excellence.

I served six years in the Idaho Army National Guard receiving an honorable discharge with the rank of staff sergeant. My specialty was combat engineering (road and bridge construction).

Professionally, I have senior corporate management experience in operations, emergency and casualty response, training and certifications, safety, causal analysis and corrective actions and facility design and construction. I was the lead participant in an engineering design that saved the taxpayers several million dollars.

I have owned and operated successful businesses in retail sales, farming, trucking and financial factoring.

Community service is important to me. During my years of living in Jefferson County, I have served five and a half years on the Jefferson County Planning and Zoning Commission, the last year as chairman. I have developed and provided radiological response training to local hospital personnel and have provided years of volunteer service to community youth and welfare programs.

What are you proudest accomplishments in your personal life or career?

Hancock: My proudest accomplishment is my family. My greatest crop has been my seven children. They are all successful, self-sustaining members of society. Two are school teachers, one is an attorney, one is a successful business owner, one is a doctor, one runs a trucking company, and one is a nurse.

From the standpoint of my career, I would have to say it has been doing my very best at whatever job I have been given. I learned to work hard from growing up on a dairy farm and have applied this principle in all my professional endeavors. This work ethic has enabled me to obtain a bachelor’s degree in six semesters while married and having three children, and then to obtain a master’s degree while working a full-time job and raising five children.

During my time in office as a commissioner, we have been able to build a new 25,000-square-foot court annex building at no additional cost to the county residents and without loans or bonds. I negotiated the right-of-way and bridge crossing of the Great Feeder canal. This past year, we were able to upgrade 63 miles of county roads.

Belnap: My most proud and smartest accomplishment was when I married my wife Sandra. She is a beautiful and talented woman. She is and has been so supportive.

I was able to work with gifted engineers, we were able to design a nuclear facility that received core material from the heavy carrier fleet like the USS Enterprise. I was able to present and review associated control systems with the admiral and staff of Naval Nuclear Operations in Washington D.C.

I so admire the accomplishments of my children. They are all successful in their chosen occupations, contributing to the lives of their employees and associates.

Why are you a member of the Republican Party?

Hancock: I am a member of the Republican Party because of their stand regarding limited government, lower taxes, personal property rights, holding individuals responsible for their actions, and running government within their revenue sources.

Belnap: I am a contributing member of the Republican Party because its platform best supports my basic conservative values. Specifically, I strongly believe the following:

I believe in states rights, smaller government, closer to the people.

  • We in Idaho can best legislate answers to the challenge Idahoan’s face, not Washington.
  • I am an “Originalist”. I believe we should fight to uphold the Constitution.
  • Individual property rights is basic to my philosophy.
  • I strongly support the 1st amendment right of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, right to assemble, and right to petition the government for rightful redress.
  • I strongly support 2nd amendment rights to bear arms and to maintain a state militia.

I am disappointed that we are sometimes apathetic to these principles.

What are the greatest challenges facing your county?

Hancock: We are all aware of the tremendous growth we’re experiencing in Jefferson County. The issues surrounding growth must be addressed in such a manner that planning is adequate for roads, sewage, water, jobs, schools, industry, and county services. We need to look at a much broader horizon when planning for this growth. I will continue to look at a 5-year effect along with the 10-year and 20-year projection of what is needed. This will require continually addressing P&Z issues and updating plans as time goes on to ensure that proper planning is taking place.

Belnap: Our greatest challenges are the COVID-19 pandemic response and supporting the expected growth of the county. Consider the following:

  • The County must reinforce protection guidelines given by the state and federal health organizations — specifically, masking, social distancing and washing hands frequently has proven to be effective in minimizing the spread of the virus. Surrounding areas have suffered dramatic increases in the number of cases as people migrate into our area and our protection practices have become complacent. We must remain vigilant until vaccines and treatments are made available.
  • Jefferson County is the 2nd fastest growing County in the State of Idaho.
  • In most cases, our road systems are in need of upgrading. Increased traffic challenges us both within our cities and within the county.
  • A large percentage of the land from the Snake River to Ririe is already subdivided with approved plats. No accommodations for the increased stresses on our infrastructure.
  • Except for Mud Lake, Jefferson County relies totally on the city of Idaho Falls for its ambulance service. Can this emergency response capability remain the same if our population doubles?
  • Domestic water systems have already begun to be contaminated by wastewater systems. This situation will only get worse as large subdivisions and developments are built. A new approach must be implemented to better separate domestic water from wastewater in higher density housing areas.
  • Domestic water wells are failing as flood irrigation is taken from the land and large subdivisions having individual wells draw water from the 80 to 120-foot level. Many wells have gone dry requiring redrilling to 300 plus feet.

Although not an all-inclusive list, it is obvious that significant work must be done through a coordinated effort between the county and its cities.

How is your party’s ideology better suited to dealing with unique challenges than those of your competitor?

Hancock: Since I don’t have a competitor from another party, it is not applicable. However, my views are in sync with the majority of the residents of the county and I will continue to lower taxes whenever possible, ensure efficiency in county government departments, honor the personal property rights and always do what is best for the majority of county residents.

Belnap: I am a problem solving oriented person. Much of my career has been involved in performing cause and effect analysis — that is figuring out what went wrong and placing actions in place to prevent recurrence of the same problem.

I have found that generally, people are not the issue. Usually, it’s the environment we make our people work in and the tools and equipment that they are required to use that are the root cause of the problem.

I have negotiated and worked with our seven surrounding counties in emergency response actions including fire and ambulance mutual agreements, dealt with budgeting and scheduling on high profile projects with multiple layers of organizations.

I believe that I bring a fresh set of eyes, supporting background and experience that can be applied to bring more attention, more planning, more community involvement to face our biggest challenge as previously stated. The work will be hard. It will require a tenacious effort. I am up to that challenge.

How will you best represent the views of your constituents — even those with differing political views?

Hancock: I believe it is important to represent all the constituents of the county, no matter what political party they are. If they have an issue, it is my responsibility to look into it and address it, provided it is within the purview of the responsibility of the commissioners. No matter what, each person deserves an answer and I will return calls, letters, texts, and emails. I believe that I must do what is best for the majority of the residents, not just a special interest group. I have proven this over the last 5+ years and plan to continue to provide this service in the future.

Belnap: I am the type of personality that assesses and then takes action. I do not plan on playing “politics” with anyone. I could care less what political party they are part of. What I am concerned about is how to fix the problem at hand.

I believe that by thoroughly understanding the issues at hand, and by communicating the findings and reasons behind actions being taken, we will have the support of the majority of the constituents in the county.

What trait, attribute, or experience do you possess that best qualifies you to manage public employees and handle public funding?

Hancock: I am currently serving as a county commissioner and have been for the last 5+ years. I possess a unique skill set that has been very beneficial to the county.

I have a background in management of large government projects, budget development and controls, financial background, experience in building and maintaining roads and bridges.

Being a farmer, I have agricultural knowledge and hands-on experience with equipment.

Additionally, I have the education and experience to enhance a broad spectrum of county management.

I have a master’s degree in finance, which has given me the background to understand funding issues and the ability to manage the funds for the county. I understand the issues in the county and have the ability to help solve problems. We currently have a lot of good things going on in the county and I would like to continue to complete these projects.

Belnap: Most judge me to be a fair and honest person. I have experience in personnel management and have been personally responsible for budgets in excess of a million dollars. Consider the following:

Public Funding

  • I hate wasteful spending and unneeded taxation.
  • I have many years of corporate management experience.
  • I have built budgets and “stick” to them.
  • I am not afraid to speak the truth regardless of the audience. You know who I am by meeting me or speaking to me. I am consistent.

Public Employee Management:

  • I have managed personnel staff large groups.
  • I have years of experience in “Performance Based” evaluations, that is personnel are rewarded for the work they perform, not for merely showing up to work.
  • I love to work with people that want to get the work done.
  • I work to motivate those that are “coasting” or otherwise taking advantage of the system.

What are your views regarding the role of the media in covering your county? How can you best work with local reporters to ensure coverage of the issues?

Hancock: I believe the media should provide accurate and unbiased reporting of newsworthy issues within Jefferson County. Reporting the facts and giving the correct news story is how the local reporters can best serve the people of this area, and develop credibility with the viewer or readers.

I believe as elected officials we can help local reporters by providing the facts regarding any story in our county. I don’t believe that there should be an adversarial relationship between reporters and elected officials, but reporters must report the news accurately.

Belnap: I just hate “Fake” news! 🙂 I want to thank EastIdahoNews.com for giving me this opportunity to express my views. The media has a tough job, but an important job of communicating information to the public. I plan on using the media to better communicate not only the challenges that we face in the county, but I would like to see more coverage of the hard-working county employees that serve us each working day of the week. There are many volunteers and unsung heroes who put in countless hours of their time to serve this county.

I plan on involving the media to be part of the solution to county challenges by allowing them full coverage and full transparency to our county actions. The public must be involved in order to help its leadership get the right answers.