Incumbent in Twin Falls County commissioner race may have an advantage due to COVID

Challenger says it been hard to campaign this year with things being shut down
Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 8:48 AM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - In the Twin Falls County Commissioner District 1 race, the challenger thinks the incumbent has been in public office too long and it’s time for a change. KMVT was able to talk to both candidates to see why they believe they are the right person for the job.

Twin Falls County commissioner Brent Reinke is seeking re-election, and he said one of the reasons he is seeking another term is because there are some projects in the works at the county level he would like to see through. He said right now the commissioners are finalizing the drafting phase of the Comprehension Plan.

“And that is a significant piece when you start talking about land use, and what the future looks like,” Reinke said.

He said they are also working on the expansion of the county jail, which should be completed by New Year’s. The county is planning on moving all of the juvenile offender services to County West, and is creating a master plan for a new Adult Detention Center on Wright Avenue.

However, his Independent challenger Jim Schouten of Filer believes it is time for a change and more diversity on the county commission.

“One thing I see on the commission is that it seems to be all law enforcement background, and we have no diversity in our commission right now,” Schouten said.

He said he believes his background in construction and fresh ideas would be valuable assets to the commission for their upcoming projects.

“I have been involved with rural economic development, and the Chamber of Commerce in Buhl for the last six years,” Schouten said. “And with building experience and 30 years in the business, I can bring that to the table."

Schouten said his biggest obstacle right now is running as an Independent candidate, and not having a party backing, supporting and sponsoring him. Schouten said he didn’t want to run as a Democrat because it probably wouldn’t come off well in Twin Falls County, which is mostly Republican. He also said it’s been hard to get his name out and introduce himself to people due to COVID-19 and with so many civic activities being shut down.

“Other than social media, it’s been really hard to focus on a campaign because I haven’t raised any money. I haven’t spent any money. What I got is what I got,” Schouten said.

Reinke said there is definitely an advantage to being an incumbent, but he thinks his business background and 30 plus years of experience in public service, including for the State of Idaho for the Department of Corrections, as well as, his relationships with the people of Twin Falls County will be what puts him over the top.

“I really enjoy working with people at this level," Reinke said. “You are closest to the people when you start talking about county government, and when they are upset at you you know about it.”

However, Schouten believes voters have been receptive to his message, and he thinks there are “people who think it’s time for some of the career politicians to go by the wayside."

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