County Fair & Candidates

After working at the Democratic booth at the Canyon County Fair last week, I thought I’d look over earlier writings about the fair and share the ups and downs over the years. .

Searching, I found thank yous to volunteers and summaries of data gathered, but nothing about the amazing moments that make great memories.

So I’ll settle for capturing a bit of this year’s experience.

This was the first year we had a straw pool for 20 Democratic presidential candidates.

Now we had a straw poll in 2008, but only eight candidates. Democrats stopping by the booth asked questions about the one or two they didn’t know–and I finally learned pronounce “Kucinich.”

This year people were more apt to stare at the pictures of lesser known candidates–perhaps trying to call up a memory–and finally shrug.

What they wanted to talk about was who they liked and who they thought had the best chance of winning–and they were seldom the same.

 Most obviously felt under pressure to do it right this time. A progressive will draw more Democrats to the poll; a middle-of-the-roader, more independents. Or not?

And don’t we need someone with experience?

 The straw poll gave volunteers an opening to invite people to watch the televised debates with other Democrats at 6 p.m. tonight (Tuesday 30 July) and Wednesday.  (Tonight’s is at 111 N. 11th Ave in Caldwell; tomorrow’s, #204 inside Nampa’s First Street Marketplace, 1224 1st St.)

 The big draw at our booth, however, was the petition calling for a minimum wage question on a future ballot.

 Even people who started their working lives making $1 an hour stated it’d be hard to live on $12 an hour these days, much less the current minimum wage of $7.25. One man mentioned that 50 years ago he earned enough to pay his way through the College of Idaho; that’s impossible today. A woman spoke of her twin granddaughters’ struggles to afford a place to live.

Not everyone, however, supported an increase. One business owner seemed determined to see us take down the sign.  She said she couldn’t stay in business and pay her help $15 an hour. (The current initiative asks for $12 an hour during the fourth year.)  I could sympathize with her–some months my husband’s shop manager took home more than he did.

One volunteer’s answer was to ask when we should have stopped raising the minimum wage.  Would $6 be better? Four-fifty?

One woman on social security feared that prices would rise if workers earned more. She refused to believe studies indicated higher wages were more apt to bring greater business volume than higher prices

And a man who bid on nine homes before finally getting to the rise in Idaho’s home prices were caused by Washington’s minimum wage increase, Somehow, I doubt that the poorest Washington wage earners getting an extra dollar or two an hour–still not enough to afford an apartment–has pushed the price of Idaho houses up $40,000.

More likely, we’re seeing millionaires, finding stocks overpriced, grasping for profitable places to put their new tax refunds. I hope someone is doing a study.

Most Republicans ignores us, but some wanted to talk. This year a young man asked, “Why do people choose to be poor?”

They what?

Does anyone choose to be ill or lose a spouse or to raise their grandkids?

Some make obviously bad decisions, but I don’t know their thoughts. Were they choosing to be poor? To escape pain? Or did they never believe they could be addicted?

Thanks to all who stopped to talk–it’s good to know people are thinking.

Note this editorial by Judy Ferro published by Idaho Press – 2019