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Ron Taylor Touts Freedom of Choice, Keeping Public Lands
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Saturday, October 29, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

Ron Taylor has evoked thoughts of the popular comic book hero Chickenman during the past six months.

“He’s everywhere. He’s everywhere,” the late-1960s radio series clucked.

Taylor was there Thursday at The Advocates’ community discussion on domestic violence. He sat in on a presentation concerning the Wood River Wolf Project on Tuesday and a Blaine County Housing Authority meeting on Wednesday. And he hasn’t missed a Business After Hours since they started up again in early summer.

It’s part of learning about people’s concerns as he runs for the District 26 Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Michelle Stennett, who opted to retire at the end of the year. The election is on Nov. 8.

“After my own retirement from the firefighting, I was bored and I found I didn’t like the way national or Idaho politics were going. I decided instead of sitting home yelling at the TV I could make a change,” he said.

Upon learning of his interest, Stennett had Taylor shadow her at the statehouse. He met many of the senators there and sat in caucus. And then he went to work studying the issues as he challenged Laurie Lickley of Jerome for the seat.

“In talking with people, I’ve found that a lot of people are upset about the loss of women’s rights. They want to have choices when it comes to women’s reproductive rights. Idaho has an incredibly restrictive abortion bill and there are a lot of legislators who want to take all exemptions and even the right to contraception away. I find that perplexing for a state that doesn’t want government in people’s lives,” he said.

Taylor has found that those he’s talked to are very concerned about losing public lands. He’s chagrined that Idaho’s among the least educated states with fewer than 81 percent of students graduating high school and only 44 percent going to college.  He believes Idaho needs to pay teachers more than the current $53,000 median wage to keep them.

And he’s concerned about water.

“We lead the nation per capita in water usage. Eighty percent of our water is used by agriculture and 20 percent goes to residential use. We can use 13,000 gallons a day to water a half-acre—that’s a drop in the bucket. But this is a high mountain desert and we need to find ways to encourage people to conserve. Idaho needs water for recreation—skiing, rafting, fishing. If we don’t manage it appropriately, we’re going to lose our tourism.”

Taylor treasures outdoor amenities, having grown up in Holladay, Utah, at the bottom of the Wasatch front 10 minutes south of the University of Utah.

He followed a high school flame to Sun Valley where he worked the night shift in the Duchin Room, as sous chef in the Lodge, as line cook in the old Ore House and in the bake shop with the late Jack Flaherty.

He also strung more Christmas lights than he could count, spending eight hours a day ahead of each Christmas on a ladder or lift.

Eventually, he went to work as a firefighter for the Ketchum Fire Department where the cooking skills he’d learned at Sun Valley were no doubt treasured around the firehouse table. He lived at the Greenhorn fire station for three years before moving to the Wood River Fire and Rescue where he worked for 22 years until his retirement last year. His assignments included tailing former Vice President Dick Cheney, who had heart issues, in an ambulance when Cheney came to the valley for a fundraiser.

“I worked the Ro, Castle Rock and Beaver Creek fires. I’d say my most memorable call was rescuing a friend from the hood of her car after it got trapped in floodwaters near West Magic Reservoir.”

Taylor met his wife Alex while volunteering at the Crisis Hotline.

“It’s fun to tell people I met her through the Crisis Hotline—they always ask, ‘Who had the crisis?’ ” he said.

A longtime volunteer for the Mountain Humane, Taylor and Alex recently adopted a chihuahua-terrier mix they named Georgy Girl after spotting her at a Cupcakes for Karma rally held by Karma Metzler Fitzgerald, who is running for a House seat.

Taylor is aware that Democrats have long been a minority in the Idaho legislature, and he’s been surprised at the lack of willingness on the part of some people to engage in discourse.

At the same time, he’s been pleasantly surprised by the amount of support people have shown him from honking their horns and yell “Ron!” as they pass to leaving a note on his windshield that said simply, “Thank you.”

“But I’m open to sitting down and talking with anyone and listening to what they have to say,” he said. “Because we had such a huge turnover in the legislature this year, it’s an opportunity for a whole group of new people to get together, form relationships and be positive when it comes to getting things done for the people of Idaho.”

To prepare for the future, Taylor would also like to see schoolchildren engaging in civil discourse.

“They should have the ability to look at something from more than one side, to study something and learn from it before moving on.”

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