Commissioners table ‘Constitutional County’ issue

Bradshaw brings resolution, Connolly calls it ‘political’ and ‘unneeded’

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

Bonner County commissioners stood at a stalemate during their Aug. 31 business meeting, disagreeing on a resolution that would declare “Constitutional County” status and forbade them from ever enacting policies declared unconstitutional, as enumerated by the two-page document.

Bonner County Commissioner Steve Bradshaw.

The resolution, brought by Commissioner Steve Bradshaw, stated that citizens of Bonner County “are entitled to the protection of their God-given and constitutionally protected rights,” and took shots at Idaho Gov. Brad Little, local health districts, other government agencies and the “media” for attempting “to justify the suspension or denial of God-given, constitutionally protected rights under a plea of emergency” — that emergency being the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Commissioner Jeff Connolly — the only other board member in attendance, as Commissioner Dan McDonald was absent — challenged the need for the resolution, pointing out that the commissioners already pledged to uphold the state and federal constitutions when they took the oath of office.

“It just seems like this is a repeat of what we’ve already said we would do, and what I already do every day,” he said.

Connolly said the resolution appeared to be “political,” as well. Bradshaw is running for Idaho governor in 2022. Connolly said he could not agree to a resolution calling Little’s actions unconstitutional, adding: “That’s an issue for constitutional scholars and also the courts to decide.”

“I’m just trying to get my head wrapped around what we’re trying to accomplish,” he said.

Bradshaw said the resolution was “just a statement” that would “reinforce” the commissioners’ oath. He called it a “shot over the bow” for elected officials around the nation who, in his view, are not protecting people’s rights.

“It’s not a political move,” he said. “It’s just something that I feel should be done.”

Bonner County Commissioner Jeff Connolly.

Bradshaw added that if he’d included anything in the resolution that was “incorrect,” he’d “love somebody to point it out.”

“I don’t think it’s about ‘correct’ or ‘not correct,’” Connolly said. “It’s about what our duties are as commissioners and what we’re supposed to be doing.”

For example, the resolution declares commissioners will never enforce a law that imposes on a citizen’s “right” to “wear or not wear any medical device they may choose” — i.e., a mask mandate. Connolly said it is the duty of the commissioners to vote on such a proposal should the health district bring it before them, as outlined in recently passed Senate Bill 1060, rather than to issue a blanket resolution declaring such actions unconstitutional.

“I think it’s unneeded and I won’t be voting for it,” Connolly said of the resolution.

Deputy Clerk Jessi Webster suggested commissioners table the issue until McDonald could be present to cast a deciding vote. Connolly and Bradshaw both voted in favor of the motion, meaning discussion on Bradshaw’s resolution will resume at the board’s Sept. 7 business meeting. 

Tuesday business meetings are held in the third floor conference room at the Bonner County Administration Building at 9 a.m., as well as streamed online on the Bonner County YouTube channel.

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