Bingham County legislative candidates vie for votes during Republican forum

Legislative candidates Representative Julie Van Orden and Julianne Young respond to questions from the Bonneville County Republican Party | Photo: Sydney Jensen, KID Newsradio

BLACKFOOT, Idaho — Legislative candidates Representative Julie VanOrden and Julianne Young spoke directly to voters in a Bonneville County Republican Party forum on Tuesday, April 24.

Representative VanOrden is the incumbent for Idaho Legislative District 31B, but faces political newcomer Julianne Young to keep her seat. Among the issues discussed in Tuesday’s debate included what moderators called “the elephant in the room,” and VanOrden’s recent push to update the Idaho sex education language and Young’s adamant opposition to the effort.

“I planned to update the existing code by revising it to actually address what school districts would be able to address if they chose to implement the sex education program to their schools,” Representative Julie Van Orden said. “Why I feel this is important is because, there are a number of reasons, the individual I worked with was an unwed mother and raised two little boys and it was important for her to address teenage pregnancy, so that’s how we began down this path to update this law.”

The bill ultimately failed to pass and VanOrden even voted against it in the end, but Young maintains the issue as a central part of her campaigning.

“The changes removed language that required teaching sex education in the context of the miracle of life, that had language like ‘moral responsibility.’ the idea of teaching the importance of self-discipline,” Legislative candidate Julianne Young said. “These were the ideas that were being mocked as outdated and being removed…which in my mind opens up sex education to a whole variety of other things outside of that.”

But, differing viewpoints on Idaho’s sex education laws weren’t the only issues for the candidates to debate. The second amendment, water rights, fixing Bingham County’s overpopulated prisons, education and even who the candidates supported for governor, all made an appearance. At one point, the moderators also asked both Young and VanOrden to talk about their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.

“I would say that Representative VanOrden is a wife and a mother, she’s a person who knows how to get things done,” Young said. “She’s someone who knows how to be professional in the things that she does and I appreciate those characteristics. I would say that a primary difference would be our position on some very conservative principles.”

Young then went on to cite the score cards from the American Conservative Union and the Idaho Freedom Foundation and argued VanOrden’s record shows a continual drifting away from conservative principles. In VanOrden’s response, she admitted she didn’t know her conservative scores, but the results Young cited didn’t tell the whole story.

“My votes don’t seem to be as conservative as some organizations would rate me, but I do feel like that they are conservative and that they reflect the county and I would hope that if elected, Julianne’s votes would reflect the Bingham County voters.”

The primary election will be May 15th.