David Nelson said his father, Jay Nelson, who died two months ago, inspired him to run for Idaho’s 5th District state Senator position.
Jay Nelson served as a Latah County Commissioner in the 1980s, and David Nelson, D-Moscow, said his father was great at bringing county residents together to solve problems. He said he plans to bring that approach to Boise if he unseats incumbent Dan Foreman, R-Viola.
“I am happy to work across the aisle,” Nelson said. “I’m happy to look for collaborative solutions that solve real problems for Idaho and not throw rocks at each other.”
Foreman could not be reached for this story.
How will you vote for Prop. 2 (Medicaid expansion)? What are the benefits and disadvantages of it?
Nelson said he voted for Proposition 2 and believes the initiative is the defining issue in this year’s election. He said the expansion would help the roughly 60,000 people in the Medicaid gap. He said about 60 percent of them are working minimum wage jobs and need the health insurance so they can be more effective at work.
Nelson said the proposition would also financially benefit the state, as he said it would bring back $400 million a year in the state’s federal taxes.
“It really gripes me about the financially unconservative nature of our Legislature to refuse that money to come back and fund Medicaid in our state,” he said.
Nelson said the initiative would also reduce the state’s catastrophic funds, counties’ indigent funds and the medical field’s debt.
A news release issued Wednesday by Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, on behalf of himself and eight other Idaho state senators, including Foreman, stated that the proposition would have many negative consequences if it passed. The senators said expanding the federal program could lead to a fiscal catastrophe for current and future Idahoans.
“Despite the assurances of Prop 2 backers, the fact is we don’t know how much this Medicaid expansion will end up costing, or how many people it will end up covering,” Thayn said in the release.
Are you for or against the legalization of marijuana?
Nelson said cannabidiol oil and medical marijuana should be legalized, but he is unsure if recreational marijuana use should be legalized. He said he believes there are medical benefits from using CBD oil and marijuana.
“It seems like a stretch for our state,” Nelson said about legalizing marijuana for recreational use. “It seems like a reasonable thing to do, but I’d like to understand the addiction issues with it and what are the downsides of it more before I make a decision.”
How can you help better support the University of Idaho?
Nelson said he will vote for the higher education budget every year unlike Foreman, who was one of two senators to vote against the FY 2019 college and university budget, which includes funding for the University of Idaho.
Foreman received a D grade, or 67.1 percent, on the 2018 Idaho Legislature Higher Education Report Card. The grade originates from student governments of public colleges and universities in the state who come together to evaluate legislators’ voting record pertaining to higher education.
Nelson said he wants to advocate for what the UI does well, which he said is inspiring students to start businesses in Idaho and attract students to the state with good jobs.
How important is improving infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and broadband? What is your position on the proposed U.S. Highway 95 expansion south of Moscow?
Nelson said roads are an extremely important issue in District 5 because agricultural and forestry products are primarily transported on roads in Latah and Benewah counties.
“If we don’t have a well-maintained road system, we’re not going to be able to expand those. We’re not going to be able to even maintain.”
He said Idaho runs about a $200 million transportation maintenance budget deficit and it needs to find a way to fill that hole. He said raising the gas tax might be the way to fill that need.
Nelson said he would like to see the Highway 95 four-lane project completed from Thorncreek Road to near the southern Moscow city limits for safety benefits. However, he said he wishes the Idaho Transportation Department would choose a different route than what they have selected.