Victoria Zeischegg

Victoria Zeischegg
Candidate for: Bonner County Commissioner, 2nd District

Age: 59
Years of residence in Sandpoint and Bonner County: Granddaughter of an Idahoan, 20 year relationship with Dover company, Thorne Research, moved to Bonner County in 2010 from rural Nevada County
Marital status/family: Married to Peter Zeischegg for 16 years and we have three sons and one daughter between us
Contact information:
    [email protected], 208-477-1651, P.O. Box 1102, Sandpoint, ID 83864
Education: BA degree from UC Berkeley

Recent or pertinent employment history

Public offices held:

Nonprofit groups, service or professional organizations to which you belong:
President, Bonner County Republican Women, Inc., member and past Secretary of Angels Over Sandpoint

1. Why are you running for public office?
The continuing growth of government and shrinking of liberties was the catalyst for my decision to run. I want to make a difference for the people of Bonner County. Bonner County needs a fresh voice in County Government.

2. Describe the top three to five issues you believe are most important; why you believe they are important; and your position on these issues.
• There is a need for increased opportunity for county businesses and job seekers. With the closure of Coldwater Creek this is more critical than ever. We need to continue the process that the current commissioners have started of reviewing our planning fee structure and zoning ordinances to make it easier for businesses to locate or expand here, and also for the small farms and ranches to continue to survive. In addition, I support opportunities for quality job development, including greater broadband coverage, manufacturing, and opening up our resources for responsible logging, farming, and ranching. I envision a community where after completing high school or college people can find sustainable local employment staying close to family and friends, and the place they love.

• More transparency in county government, budget evaluation and fiscal responsibility will benefit county citizens. All government, including county government, needs to return to its constitutionally mandated position as servant of the people. I would like to see our county government be more "user friendly" on all levels.

• 44.4% of Bonner County is controlled by the Federal Government. I will insist on legal Coordination when Federal agencies implement activities which affect private property rights, productive uses of land, and local economies. Coordination is a process mandated by federal law that requires federal agencies to coordinate their plans, programs and management activities with local governments.

• I have heard from many fellow citizens how concerned they are about increasing home burglaries and crime in general. Here are some statistics from 2012; Bonner County had the 11th highest crime rate of all Idaho counties. Ponderay Police Department in Bonner County had the highest crime rate of any police agency in Idaho. The city of Sandpoint had the fifth highest crime rate in the state. This is an issue that needs to be addressed so that the people of Bonner County feel and are safe. We need to address this by working together with the Sheriff’s Office and concerned citizens.

• I firmly believe in the right of our citizens to protect their lives and their property, and the right to bear arms is a critical component to this end, and I will work to protect this right locally. I recognize that its original intent was to protect against tyranny and to ensure the rights of our citizens to safeguard their own lives and property. 

3. At local candidate forums, many of the candidates have identified the economy and job creation as issues of concern – especially with the impending closure of Coldwater Creek and the loss of 300-plus jobs. Do you consider this an important issue for county commissioners to deal with? What specific actions would you advocate to improve the economy and jobs?
The economy is a critical issue for Bonner County. I will advocate for quality job development including greater broadband coverage and fiber optic, manufacturing, and opening up our resources for responsible logging, farming, and ranching. County leadership must work closer with local businesses and the Bonner County Economic Development Corp. (BCEDC) to provide economic opportunities and incentives. In addition, I will push for simplifying the permitting process for businesses desiring to start up here, and existing businesses that would like to expand. County leadership should facilitate coordination with State Representatives to eliminate the Business Property Tax and to create tax incentives for new or expanding businesses.

4. Train hazards: An increase in coal trains through Bonner County has potential safety and environmental impacts, and with new shipping terminals proposed on the coast the coal trains traffic could more than double by some estimates. With 132 railroad crossings in the county, the increased train traffic stands to create traffic delays and safety hazards; in the past six months two young women have been killed at unprotected rural railroad crossings in the county. Additionally, Bonner County has seen an increase in the number of trains carrying highly volatile oil, creating a potential public safety hazard. Do you believe the county commissioners should be active on the issue of increased train transport through our county? What is your position on coal and oil trains?
Public Safety is a primary concern, and that includes making sure our railroad crossings are safe, and the ability for public safety responders to quickly get to locations throughout the county. If the number of trains is going to significantly increase we will need the railroads, coal and oil industries to help with overpasses and other public safety considerations. There also needs to be more transparency as to the number of vehicles carrying hazardous materials on highways and rail lines which creates the potential for disastrous accidents. The county needs to finalize its plan for the safety of people, property, and the environment when events occur like the recent truck spill of ammonium nitrate in Cocolalla.

5. Do you support or oppose wilderness designation for the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness Area? Do you support or oppose the proposed Rock Creek Mine in Montana, which has potential effects on water quality in Lake Pend Oreille? And why, in each case?
• Scotchman Peak is a very special place and deserves special protections. This is a complex issue and deserves study. Recommended Wilderness areas restrict the use of any mechanical instruments, such as bicycles, and chain saw use for clearing trails. Other backcountry areas provide a range of quiet non-motorized and motorized opportunities, and allow these uses. Those acres allocated to primitive lands will allow mountain biking.

• I do not support the Rock Creek Mine at this time. It was previously under poor management, and if it is mismanaged the contaminated water will run into the Clark Fork River, and on to Lake Pend Oreille. The mine is just an arrow’s shot away from the river. This has the potential to cause serious environmental harm.

6. What role should the county commissioners play in the management and development of the lake? Also, describe your position on the Rock Creek Mine and control of invasive species in the lake, such as Eurasian Milfoil.
• The county commissioners must play a protective role. The lake is under management control of many organizations, including the Army Corps of Engineers, Avista, Bonneville Power Administration, Idaho Fish & Game, Idaho Dept of Agriculture, and others. The Board must be involved so as to protect our economic gem.

• Again, I do not support the Rock Creek Mine at this time. It was previously under poor management, and if it is mismanaged the contaminated water will run into the Clark Fork River, and on to Lake Pend Oreille. The mine is just an arrow’s shot away from the river. This has the potential to cause serious environmental harm.

• Control of invasive species in our lake and river system is vitally important for our local economy, recreation, and property rights. The only thing that has worked to control Eurasian Milfoil is herbicide. Flowering Rush, another invasive species, is another great concern, with no easy control methods at this time. We need to support the state in its boat inspections for quagga and zebra mussels and the other invasive species.

7. Do you feel the county has struck the correct balance between taxes and services? If you intend to reduce taxes, what specific services would you eliminate?
The cost of doing business (fuel, insurance, contracts, etc.) increases every year. The County can only increase our property taxes by up to 3% per year, and that should be sufficient to cover the increase in operating expenses. I will vote to minimize tax increases. It is my vision that by increasing the economy in Bonner County our tax base will increase, thus eliminating the need for raising taxes across the board.

8. What do you believe is the correct course for the county in the SilverWing lawsuit?
The county did not take any property from SilverWing and should not pay SilverWing any tax payer money. The FAA controls the airport and will be the one that decides where the runway is placed. This decision will have the greatest impact on SilverWing.

In late 2013, Silverwing offered to drop its potential $26 million litigation in exchange for $4.5 million. The Commissioners rejected this offer, making a counter-offer that each side pays their own attorney fees. Silverwing rejected this counter-offer. Subsequently, Judge Lodge cancelled the April trial date, advising he will reschedule, if necessary, after he rules on the County’s Motion for Summary Judgment (including dismissal). I believe the current Board of Commissioners is taking the correct action.

9. Do you support allocation of resources to the Bonner County Fairgrounds, and at what level – higher, lower or the same as currently?
The Fair is currently supported at about $100,000 per year. This is one of the few marketing programs we have for Bonner County and I support the current level of funding.

10. What differentiates you from other candidates? Why should people vote for you?
My career path has been in entrepreneurial endeavors. With my small business experience I know how to set realistic budgets and operate within them. I pledge to budget every dime as if it were my own. I can bring teams together to work with cohesiveness and excellence. I have the marketing experience to attract the kind of businesses that our county needs.