Challenger Geoff Stephenson says his differences with incumbent John McCrostie are few, but significant.
“If I weren’t running against him, I would be voting for him,” said Stephenson, a delivery-truck driver. McCrostie is a school teacher.
District 16 includes parts of West and Northwest Boise and Garden City. The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Joel Robinson in November.
Stephenson said he differs with McCrostie, and the party as a whole, on guns.
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Stephenson said he favors limits on magazine capacity and keeping guns out of the hands of felons among measures he considers to be “common sense,” but he’s generally conservative on gun issues.
“A lot of fellow Democrats think any law making it easier for law-abiding citizens to carry is a bad thing,” Stephenson said. “I disagree with that.”
Had he been in the 2016 Legislature, he would have voted in favor of law to allow people to carry concealed weapons throughout the state without a permit. He said he would prefer to see a requirement for some training. “I think everyone should have to be trained.”
As he said in the Idaho Statesman Voter Guide, Stephenson also favors marijuana legalization.
“Marijuana will become legal eventually, and it matters to me how that’s done,” Stephenson said. “I don’t want to replace one cartel with another with regulations like Hawaii.”
McCrostie said he supports legalization of at least CBD oil, a marijuana product for medicinal uses, but said the subjects of recreational use and farming are moot.
“I don’t think marijuana will be legalized for recreational use in the next two years,” McCrostie said. “With (Butch) Otter as governor, I don’t think he has a path forward.”
Stephenson supports Medicaid expansion. He said he thinks the eventual requirement that the state pay 10 percent of Medicaid costs could easily be covered by taxation of legal marijuana if the money cannot be found in the general fund. Stephenson said his income would put him into the Medicaid gap population were it not for the care he receives as a veteran.
McCrostie supports Medicaid expansion, or a redesign of the program like the Healthy Idaho plan, which would use federal dollars to help individuals who don’t qualify for Medicaid to purchase affordable private health care insurance.
“Either plan, even after full funding, would still save Idaho millions of dollars in health care costs in the first year alone,” McCrostie said. “This is a no-brainer to support.”
McCrostie said he wants to focus on education funding because Idaho is “seven years behind without even accounting for inflation or enrollment growth.” The incumbent also said he wants to address economy and equality, specifically LGBT rights.
McCrostie is Idaho’s only openly gay legislator and said he wants to add “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” to Idaho’s civil rights law. Not only is it right, he said, but it also would benefit the economy by attracting companies and preventing potential boycotts of the state.
In addition to legalizing marijuana, Stephenson’s priority is expunging offenders’ records of nonviolent crimes. He wants to see an easy procedure for nonviolent criminals to have their records sealed.
Nishant Mohan: @NishantRMohan