South Boises District 18 is the rematch zone, with two Democrats looking to avenge razor-thin losses from 2010.
And we find ourselves where we were two years ago. First-term Republican Sen. Mitch Toryanski gets our endorsement over former Rep. Branden Durst, while Democrat Janie Ward-Engelking is our pick over 12-year Rep. Julie Ellsworth.
Toryanski offers a solid to-do list for a second term. Hed like Idaho to follow the lead of other states and establish a statewide trauma system, to better coordinate response and training and ultimately save lives. An attorney, Toryanski wants the state to combat rising inmate numbers by reviewing its mandatory minimum sentence laws for nonviolent offenders. This issue could finally be ripe, with the retirement of Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee Chairman Denton Darrington, a staunch defender of mandatory minimum sentences.
Toryanski changed his view on the most controversial vote of 2012 he supported a bill requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion, but now opposes the idea. Durst has criticized this vote, and some may be skeptical about Toryanskis conversion. We think it shows a willingness to listen to criticism and respond to constituent concerns.
After losing by just seven votes in 2010, Ward-Engelking chose to get involved. The 33-year teacher interned at the Legislature, focusing on the 2011 debate over the Students Come First education overhaul. Her views on the issue are reasoned and tempered by experience. She doesnt believe merit pay is a bad idea, as long as it doesnt come at the expense of base pay. She isnt opposed to online education either, but shes uneasy about mandating it as a graduation requirement.
Ward-Engelking isnt a one-issue candidate. She supports tax reform, including a review of sales tax exemptions, and regulatory reform to entice businesses. We think shed bring a reasonable approach to the looming question of Medicaid expansion.
Students Come First raises the stakes in both rematches. When the bills reached the Senate Education Committee in 2011, Toryanski emerged as the pivotal swing vote in their favor and the issue the focal point in Dursts run. Ellsworth voted against the technology bill on the House floor and remains opposed, which makes it tougher to run against her on this issue.
Picking legislators isnt a one-issue proposition. Toryanski and Ward-Engelking have the most to offer.
In the nonrematch race, Democrat Phylis King is a clear pick. The six-year incumbent has grown into the job and has become a strong voice on ethics issues. Shed also be a strong, pragmatic voice on Medicaid and health exchange issues.