President’s Column: Busy time includes full array of Idaho Debates

Betsy RussellBy Betsy Z. Russell

We have so much going on!! Including:

  • The Fall Conference on Oct. 18; don’t miss it! See full article in this issue from our Southwest Chapter president, Clark Corbin.
  • Working with the governor’s new public records ombudsman and an array of stakeholders on legislation to set up an intermediate level of appeal for public records request denials – short of having to go to court. Very, very important! This with the help of our pro bono lobbyist, Julie Hart, and our new First Amendment Committee Chair Rebecca Boone. It’s an exciting and vital project.
  • We are submitting formal comments opposing the Forest Service rule requiring costly permits for still photography and filming on wilderness and other Forest Service land in our state unless agency officials determine that they believe the story involved is “breaking news.” See full article in this issue from Bruce Reichert of Idaho Public TV.
  • Four more IDOG seminars are coming up on the state’s public records and open meetings laws, this time in North Idaho: Dec. 8 in Lewiston, Dec. 9 in Moscow, Dec. 10 in Coeur d’Alene and Dec. 11 in Sandpoint. The Idaho Press Club is a founding member of IDOG, our state’s open-government coalition (Idahoans for Openness in Government). Like all of our earlier IDOG seminars around the state, these will feature Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, and are co-sponsored by local news outlets; more info is online at
  • The Idaho Debates. This 30+ year tradition is co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters of Idaho and broadcast statewide on Idaho Public Television; we have seven general-election debates coming up, with reporters from the Idaho Press Club serving as the panelists. Here are the dates and times:

Oct. 7, 7 p.m.: Idaho Secretary of State debate, featuring Republican Lawerence Denney and Democrat Holli Woodings

Oct. 9, 7 p.m.: 1st Congressional District debate, featuring GOP Rep. Raul Labrador and Democratic challenger Shirley Ringo

Oct. 9, 8:30 p.m.: Idaho state treasurer debate, featuring GOP Treasurer Ron Crane and Democratic challenger Deborah Silver

Oct. 21, 7 p.m.: Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction debate, featuring GOP candidate Sherri Ybarra and Democratic candidate Jana Jones

Oct. 26, 7 p.m.: 2nd Congressional District debate, featuring GOP Rep. Mike Simpson and Democratic challenger Richard Stallings

Oct. 30, 7 p.m.: Idaho governor debate, featuring GOP Gov. Butch Otter, Democratic challenger A.J. Balukoff, and Libertarian candidate John Bujak

Oct. 30, 8:30 p.m.: Idaho lieutenant governor debate, featuring GOP Lt. Gov. Brad Little and Democratic challenger Bert Marley

A debate in the U.S. Senate race had been scheduled for Oct. 12, but was canceled after GOP Sen. Jim Risch declined to participate. Risch’s campaign manager, Melinda Smyser, said in a letter to Idaho Debates organizers, “It has been the senator’s custom to do one debate with his opponent,” and Risch already had agreed to debate Democratic challenger Nels Mitchell on Boise TV station KTVB. The station will provide the debate for re-broadcast by stations elsewhere in the state.

Also coming up: Our annual journalism contest, for which preparations are under way now and submissions will be in January; our annual scholarship competitions, both for the Don Watkins Scholarship for Idaho college journalism students and the Don Watkins Mid-Career Scholarship (see Katherine Jones’ article in this issue about what she did with hers this year), which both have entry deadlines for the upcoming year of Feb. 15; and our annual gala awards banquet, which is set for April 25 at the newly renovated Owyhee Plaza.

Thanks to all our dedicated volunteer board members and our fabulous executive director, Martha Borchers, for all the hard work everyone’s doing!

Betsy Z. Russell is a Boise-based reporter for The Spokesman-Review newspaper, and is the president of the Idaho Press Club.