TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read):
Jim Gray for Mayor.
Steven Harmon, Jason Stooks, and Gina Taruscio for City Council.
VOTE NOVEMBER 2nd!
One of the reasons this voting guide is delayed is that this is a particularly packed election season, with 8 candidates vying for 3 City Council seats, and 4 candidates vying for mayor! But even more complicated are the issues at stake after the insanity of 2020, and how that affects candidates. There are questions of electability, strategy, trust, and more.
This is a Moscow-only race, not county. So if you’re in the county, by all means spread the word for those in town, but you can’t actually vote unfortunately, even if we are affected so much by Moscow policies. Below I will mention who I endorse, along with a few notes about some of the candidates. Names are in order of appearance on the ballot.
Running for Mayor: Art Bettge, Jim Gray, Olivia Moses, and Barb Rathbun.
I have chosen to endorse Jim Gray for mayor, though I have growing appreciation for Barb Rathbun. Art Bettge is a current councilman, and if you followed local politics in 2020, you know what that means.
This is a “horse race” vote-for-three race, where the three with the most votes win.
This is a tough one for a number of reasons. There are four candidates that I believe merit your consideration: Steven Harmon, Jason Stooks, Gina Taruscio, and Kyrk Taylor. If there were four seats, these would be my picks. Needing to drop one from my recommendation is tough.
I believe the decision will come down to your ability to trust Gina Taruscio with another chance. Let me explain. Prior to 2020, I considered her the best of the sitting council members. She is pro-business, eager and willing to meet with the community, and did great work with PEP. In 2020, she let us down in a major way, voting time and time again for crazy mask mandates and shutdowns.
In the last few months, she has been vocal in her desire to do a 180 degree turn on that, and has stated so publicly. She then had an interview on Radio Free Moscow, where she was asked difficult questions, and truly answered horrifically, agreeing with the host that “people who don’t wear masks are saying they have the right to kill you.” She was called on this, and responded here, saying the questions were baited, and that she was completely caught off-guard, and proceeded to “completely fumble an agreement.” She then committed to “NOT vote in favor of any kind of mask mandate in the future, near or far.”
I understand the skepticism of many. I lean in the direction of giving her another chance, for the following reasons:
While I believe she is weak in moral courage to stand alone and be a dissenting voice, I believe she is sincere in her desire to learn from 2020, and not repeat those mistakes. I hope I am not wrong! I also believe she is the most electable of the four. And last, she brings experience.
There is a sense in which the three other non-incumbents I mention above all have untested resolve. They can certainly learn from the mistakes of the current 6 council members. But at least Gina knows what she is talking about when she says she won’t vote for a mask mandate. She knows the pressure, the rhetoric, and the political mechanism, for she buckled under its weight. Her desire to “not repeat” those mistakes is informed desire. I can’t guarantee she won’t buckle again, but I think I’ve seen enough good will, action, and public statements that warrant giving her another chance.
So, which three? I recommend: Steve Harmon, Jason Stooks, and Gina Taruscio. If you can’t vote for Gina, I understand, and I would say vote for Kyrk Taylor in her stead. I’ll add in Kyrk’s favor that I appreciated my conversation with him after the NSA forum, in which he stated he is pro-vaccine, but absolutely against vaccine mandates. It was a good, principled answer, and I think he would be a good choice and a good councilman. As I said, this one’s complicated.
Complicated or not, PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO VOTE, November 2nd, in Moscow.
Vote 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Latah County Fairgrounds (Precincts 1, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18), Hamilton Indoor Rec Center (Precincts 2, 3, 4, 17), or UI Student Rec Center (Precincts 8, 16). Not sure which Prescinct you’re in? Check this map (PDF).
In-person Early Voting will be available at the Latah County Courthouse starting October 18, 2021 and ending on October 29, 2021 between 8:00 A.M. and 5:00 P.M. in the Latah County Auditor’s Office.
Absentee Voting deadline has already passed.
Anything else on the Ballot?
Yes: Moscow School District elections. And I’m afraid I have no advice there, except to OPT OUT of public education. Check out Kepler Education (I am the founder), Logos School, White Horse Hall (I am a board member), The Jubilee School, or Logos Online – all local or local-based true education.
NOTE: This voting guide is prepared and paid for by Daniel Foucachon, and reflects his personal views. It does not represent any party or organization.