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Race for Bingham County Commissioner Heats Up

One local election race is causing a stir among voters. It is the race for the Bingham County commissioner District 2 seat. The controversy stems from one candidate working for Bingham Memorial Hospital for the last 13 years.

Incumbent Whitney Manwaring will face off against challenger Ralph West on Tuesday. Manwaring has been a commissioner for over three years and West is new to the political scene. They are both Republicans.

Some voters like Kirt McKinlay, who once sat on the board of directors for Bingham Memorial Hospital, are questioning West’s relationship with hospital board member Wayne Brower.

“It is a coincidence to me that Mr. Brower is not only newly elected to the board but that he is Ralph’s financial campaign manager. He was also a county commissioner in 2007 when the commissioners gave the hospital away to private interests,” said McKinlay.

“I don’t see why that would cloud any of my decisions. Am I getting support from people at Bingham Memorial? The same as if I worked anywhere else for 13 years, I have had a lot of friends that I made and they worked with me and would like to see me succeed,” said West.

“I think whoever represents that situation needs to not have ties or influence that could bias them,” said McKinlay.

“Once I become a county commissioner I will be a full-time employee of the county. I won’t have any ties with the hospital,” said West.

Manwaring didn’t have a comment on West’s relationship with the hospital, but did say his experience is what makes him different than his opponent.

“I feel the commissioners that are serving in there with me at this time, we can come to a common ground at the end of the day. Several things I looked into were some contracts that the county was into. After a few years, we decided to get out of those contracts instead of wasting taxpayer dollars,” said Manwaring.

Manwaring said those contracts involved the county hauling municipal waste and companies who were paid to pick up tires.

Meanwhile, West said his management skills make him different than Manwaring.

“The board of commissioners is a three-person board and I think it would help to have someone with a business background on the board,” West said.

Manwaring said he wants to work on creating better roads for the county. West said he wants to make sure he is available for people in the county office.

Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

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