By Lyndsie Kiebert
Bonner County commissioners voted down a lengthy resolution brought by Commissioner Steve Bradshaw after two weeks of debate about the purpose — and legality — of the document, instead promising to workshop the resolution and reintroduce it at a future business meeting.
The resolution, meant to declare Bonner County a “Constitutional County” in a symbolic act of to protect citizens’ “God-given and constitutionally protected rights,” was tabled during the board’s Aug. 31 meeting after Bradshaw and Commissioner Jeff Connolly — the only two commissioners in attendance — ended discussion in a stalemate, with Connolly voting in opposition.
Discussion on the resolution started up again at the board’s Sept. 7 meeting, with the third commissioner — Dan McDonald — present to cast the deciding vote.
“I don’t know that I need a piece of paper that is talking about what my job is,” Connolly said, noting that he believed that Bradshaw’s resolution only repeats what he’s already committed to under his oath of office.
“I understand what my job is,” Connolly said.
Further, he called the resolution a “conflict” for Bradshaw, who is currently running for Idaho governor. The resolution points to actions taken by Gov. Brad Little during the coronavirus pandemic as alleged overreaches of power.
“I still think that this is somewhat politically motivated,” Connolly said. “I know Steve said it’s not really politically motivated, but it sure comes at a funny time.”
Bradshaw said his gubernatorial run had nothing to do with the resolution.
“This would have come up regardless of whether I was running or not,” he said. “This is simply something that I think commissioners around the state need to do, because the state … we’ve seen that they kind of just do what they wanna do without going through appropriations, without going through legislation [sic].”
The resolution expressly states that Bonner County “will not assist in the enforcement of any civil action or any criminal charge against any person for trespass which is based on that person’s failure to comply with unconstitutional mandates or orders” — those orders listed as mandates that might impose on people’s rights to assemble, have guns, express religious beliefs, “wear or not wear any medical device they may choose” and more.
While Connolly said he believed issues of constitutionality should be left up to the courts to decide, Bradshaw said: “The Constitution’s not a real difficult piece of paper to read and understand.”
When discussion opened up to the public in attendance at the meeting, many supported the resolution, expressing anti-mask and anti-vaccine viewpoints. While McDonald said he agreed with people’s opposition to mandates, he also voiced concerns about the legality of the resolution.
“While I agree with the content, I start thinking about my oath to follow the Constitution of the U.S. and the Constitution of the State of Idaho; there are some real rubs in here that give me some pause,” McDonald said, adding later: “While I think it’s great and it’s a nice emotional moment, we have to be careful not to step on our own foot and try to overreach, because that’s really what this is. This is an attempt for us to overreach outside the bounds of what we’re constitutionally allowed to do under the state of Idaho’s constitution.”
Commissioners voted unanimously against the resolution, instead favoring going “back to the drawing board” and drafting a new one. Bradshaw said he was “totally on board” with the rewrite, “as long as it doesn’t come back too warm and fuzzy.”
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