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Betsy Z. Russell: Recount confirms results of Stevenson, Rudolph race

The recount has been completed in the District 6 Idaho House race in Nez Perce County, and the outcome was the same as it was on election night: Freshman Rep. Thyra Stevenson, R-Lewiston, has lost to Democratic challenger Dan Rudolph.

The final figures from the recount showed Rudolph beating Stevenson by 25 votes, down from the 26-vote margin in the final, unofficial count on election night. Stevenson gained one vote in the recount.

Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa said an audit of the vote-counting machine in the county came out “right on,” with a hand-count of random precincts exactly matching the machine count.

“So I didn’t expect any great change in this thing, and there wasn’t,” he said.

Unsuccessful GOP challenger Mike Kingsley had considered asking for a recount in the same county after his 48-vote loss to House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, in District 6, but Rusche reported on Facebook last week that Kingsley told him he’d decided against it.

“I got a phone call from Mike Kingsley this afternoon,” Rusche wrote. “He told me that he was not seeking to recount our race, and wished me the best for my term of service. Mike was gracious, and I have to admit that as close as the race was I might have considered a recount if things had been reversed. But the history of recounts is that they do not make a large difference in vote totals. Thanks to all who supported me. Congratulations to Mike Kingsley and the Republicans for a tight, well fought race.”

The final, post-recount results show Democrats picked up one seat in the Legislature, but GOP dominance of the Idaho Statehouse remained unchanged: 80 percent of the seats are now held by Republicans, down from 81 percent.

Overcoming travel troubles

In honor of the travel-heavy Thanksgiving holiday weekend, here’s a tale of travel troubles overcome: Boise State’s Talkin’ Broncos speech and debate team won a major debate tournament – for the fourth straight year – despite a long and harrowing bus trip through winter weather.

“Our bus ran into some problems with the snow and ice, and an eight-hour trip turned into a 21-hour trip,” said Manda Hicks, director of forensics, “leaving the competitors with about 90 minutes to change their clothes and go to the tournament. They were running on empty and pushed through to victory.”

The Mahaffey Memorial Tournament in McMinnville, Oregon, which took place Nov. 14-16, is a big one for college speech and debate competitors. “Every school wants to win the Mahaffey,” Hicks said. In addition to the team’s tournament win, BSU students won six of the 10 individual events.

Wages on the rise

Average wages grew in 36 of Idaho’s 44 counties in 2013, the Idaho Department of Labor reports, although the average wage in the state remained at 75.6 percent of the national average. That was an improvement from 2012, when Idaho’s average wage was 74.4 percent of the national average.

Idaho’s cost of living, meanwhile, is 90.7 percent of the national average, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, which tracks and ranks cost of living by state.

Ada County’s average wage of $43,937 in 2013 was above the state average of $37,800 and was 87.9 percent of the national average. Canyon County, at $33,230, was below the state average and 66.4 percent of the national average. Kootenai County, at $34,834, was 69.7 percent of the national average.

The highest average wage in the state was in lightly populated Butte County, home of the Idaho National Laboratory, at $85,500; lowest was in Oneida County in southeastern Idaho, at $25,700.

Suicide hotline records milestones

The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline marked two milestones last week: Expanding to 24/7 staffing, adding Sunday days and Sunday through Thursday overnights to its existing hours; and marking its second anniversary. The hotline is at (800) 273-TALK.

“It’s been a long, challenging but incredibly rewarding journey the past two years to achieve 24/7 suicide hotline response in Idaho,” said executive director John Reusser. “We couldn’t have done it without the support of our amazing funders and community partners, and our dedicated team (of) paid staff, volunteers and interns.”

Idaho has the nation’s eighth-highest suicide rate.


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