November 3, 2004 in Idaho

District 4 legislative races too close to call

By The Spokesman-Review

It was unclear Tuesday night whether Coeur d’Alene was keeping the Democrats in the Idaho House.

With 48 percent of the precincts reporting, Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene, was leading his race but Republican Marge Chadderdon had a slight lead over Democrat Mike Gridley for Seat A.

The Democrats think keeping District 4 in the party is crucial for Idaho democracy because they contend good laws are made only when there is debate, and that requires a two-party system. To them, the Idaho Legislature’s Republican domination is trouble for democracy.

“I have no idea what’s going to happen,” Gridley said. “But we need more of a balance in our government. It doesn’t matter if it’s Republican or Democrat, we just need a balance. It’s healthy.”

Chadderdon wasn’t available for comment.

Sayler was winning re-election against Republican challenger Dan Yake, a civil engineer who spent 20 years in the U.S. Army.

Sayler had 51 percent of the vote compared to Yake’s 49 percent.

In one of North Idaho’s hottest races, Chadderdon, a longtime party volunteer, was keeping a slight lead over Gridley all night.

Gridley had 47 percent of the vote compared to Chadderdon’s 53 percent.

The winner will replace Rep. Bonnie Douglas, D-Coeur d’Alene, whom Gridley ousted in the May Democratic primary.

Both Republicans said they wanted to nab the seats so North Idaho had adequate representation. They didn’t believe District 4 voters wanted Democrats making decisions.

“Mr. Sayler has promised to reform property taxes, promised to improve education, promised to maintain our quality of life and promised to increase the number of well-paying jobs,” Yake said. “I don’t think he can deliver on those promises.”

Sayler has taught government at Coeur d’Alene High School for 31 years and plans to retire if he wins re-election. His priorities are education, health care and jobs – a package he defines as the economy.

He thinks the Legislature should fully fund education and look at a way to control prescription drug costs, possibly by mimicking Maine. That state pools with others to negotiate directly with drug manufacturers to get less expensive pharmaceuticals.

Gridley, Coeur d’Alene’s city attorney and political newcomer, said his strength is working with a broad array of people and forging partnerships, a skill he learned as a mediator and city attorney.

Gridley and Sayler are working on a proposal to defer property tax increases for longtime residents. Homeowners who qualify wouldn’t have to pay taxes on their property’s increased valuation until they die or sell.

Chadderdon ran because she wanted the district to have a conservative voice. A retired business owner who claimed to have the most business experience of anyone running in Kootenai County, she wanted to make Idaho’s tax base attractive to companies looking to relocate.

Yake never offered many specifics on what he would do as a legislator, saying he didn’t believe in making “hollow” election-year promises to voters. As a Republican, he said, he believes in more local control, less government and fewer impacts on taxpayers’ pocketbooks.

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