Women will form a majority of the Canyon County Commission as White, Van Beek win

Leslie Van Beek.
Leslie Van Beek.

Canyon County's commissioner races followed a statewide trend Tuesday: women won both seats up for election.

Republican Leslie Van Beek defeated fellow farmer Sid Freeman by 722 votes, or almost four points, in a four-way contest to replace incumbent Steve Rule, who's retiring after four terms. Opponents Darin Taylor and Robert Vasquez were well behind.

In another county commissioner race, Republican incumbent Pam White dispatched challenger Mike Pullin by more than 20 points.

Tuesday's elections also yielded an upset in the coroner's race when challenger Jennifer Crawford ousted longtime incumbent Vicki DeGeus-Morris, a Republican who was first elected in 1990.

No Democrats filed to run for any county seats, so barring the unexpected, Van Beek and White will sit on the commission alongside Tom Dale, whose seat is not up for election this year.

The need to replace Canyon County's jail was a theme among candidates in both races. White and Freeman, a farmer by trade, both propose using a temporary, 1 percent increase to the local sales tax to fund a new jail. Van Beek and Vasquez said they would not raise taxes but would instead explore options such as other sources of money, reduced spending in other areas of the budget and reassessing the effectiveness of the public defender's office.

The state Legislature would have to authorize a local option tax before the county government could put a measure on the ballot.

As in Ada County, population growth was a major issue. Van Beek and Vasquez said the county must focus on managing the growth that is already occurring and will continue. Freeman warned against expanding government beyond what is necessary to accommodate growth.