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Kerry Vows to Name Salmon Czar

by Rocky Barker
The Idaho Statesman, February 22, 2004

Democrats offer takes on issues of Idaho interest

Sen. John Kerry would appoint a salmon czar who would answer directly to him and his vice president if he´s elected president.

But neither he nor his chief opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. John Edwards, are willing to support studies of breaching four dams on the Snake River to aid the fish.

Their positions came in response to questions asked of the candidates by The Idaho Statesman.

Kerry also offered a comprehensive plan for reviving the nation´s technology center and aiding companies like Boise´s Micron Technology. Edwards, from North Carolina, proposes giving companies that create jobs that stay at home a 10 percent tax cut.

The two men share similar positions on preservation of America´s national parks and immigration. The other candidates running for the Democratic presidential nomination did not respond to our questions in time for publication.

Salmon and dams

Kerry criticized the Bush Administration´s lack of funding for the region´s salmon recovery plan. But like President George Bush, he said he is not ready to consider removing four dams on the Snake River in Washington that salmon advocates and most fisheries´ biologists say is necessary to restore healthy populations in Idaho.

“Before we engage in a polarizing debate about dam removal, we should work to restore and improve the salmon´s habitat in the watersheds throughout the Columbia and Snake River Basins,” he said. “We should ensure the harvest of salmon and our hatcheries are properly managed.”

Edwards called for developing programs that protect both salmon and the economy. He did not offer specifics.

“I believe these two goals can be achieved together,” Edwards said.

Roger Singer, Idaho director of the Sierra Club, a national environmental group, said either candidate would do more for salmon than President Bush. Singer said he hopes they will keep an open mind on the dams.

“I hope they´ll stay open minded enough that if the other fixes prove to be insufficient, that they will address the problems created by the four dams on the Snake River,” Singer said.


Kerry proposed a comprehensive plan to revive the nation´s technology sector. It includes:

“If we don´t have a highly educated work force, then more jobs will be at risk for going overseas, and Americans won´t be able to get high-paying jobs,” he said.

Edwards also supports making the R&D tax credit permanent along with his 10 percent tax cut for companies that create new jobs.

He said he also would eliminate regulatory impediments for faster broadband access and invest in new technologies like wireless.

“The best way to help high-tech companies compete in the global marketplace is to get our economy back on track,” Edwards said. “I will also insist on a responsible budget in Washington to support businesses across the country.”

David Parker, Micron Technology director of corporate communications, said the company liked what it heard from both men.

“We are pleased they recognize the importance of the industry and Micron and hope that they follow through if elected,” Parker said.

Chris Volk, owner of the information technology consulting firm Pathfinder in Boise, worried that Edwards´ tax cut may be be viewed negatively by trading partners.

“I would favor what I heard from Kerry because it was more comprehensive and would encourage investment now,” Volk said.

Immigration Edwards co-sponsored legislation with Sens. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Ted Kennedy, D-Mass, that offers greater protections for farm workers and at the same time eases the burdens on farmers that employ them.

“I believe that any immigration reform should tell workers who work hard and play by the rules that they have an opportunity to become citizens,” Edwards said.

“At the same time, as a national security matter, we must work with our ally, Mexico, to improve border security and stop illegal trafficking.”

Kerry supports a similar plan but promised to begin talks with Mexico to put in place an earned legalization program that would allow undocumented immigrants to legalize their status if they have been in the United States for a certain time, have been working and can pass a background check.

Adan Ramirez, a board member with the Idaho Community Action Network, an advocacy group for low-income Idahoans, said he prefers Kerry´s more aggressive program.

“I think that´s what everyone here wants,” Ramirez said.

Public lands Both men said they support increasing funding for national parks. Kerry also promised to implement the Roadless Areas Conservation Rule that Clinton signed protecting more than 50 million acres of national forest lands from roads and logging.

Rocky Barker
Kerry Vows to Name Salmon Czar
The Idaho Statesman, February 22, 2004

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