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Candidates emphasize tax relief, mental health

Moscow-Pullman Daily News - 11/2/2022

Nov. 2—Tax relief and addressing mental health needs in the community are among the top priorities for two candidates running for Latah County Commissioner.

The eight-year incumbent Democrat Tom Lamar is running for another four-year term to represent the 2nd District. He is running against Republican challenger Brian Loomis.

Lamar said his primary focus if elected is "making a difference in the lives of people who need it the most."

That includes affordable housing, job training, child care and mental health care. Lamar, who serves as vice-chairperson of the North Central Idaho Behavioral Health Board, supports the Rural Crisis Center Network and advocates for expanding mental health care options to address the region's high per-capita suicide rate.

Loomis said providing tax relief to residents is at the top of his checklist. Loomis brought up the county commissioners' rejection of $1.9 million in state property tax relief during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. In September 2020, the Daily News reported the commissioners declined the funds because they were concerned about the legality of the state program.

The Moscow real estate agent plans to encourage state and federal lawmakers to better fund schools to remove some of the local tax burden. He also called for "common sense" increases in property taxes that are appropriate for the growth of the market.

"People are being burdened by taxes on unrealized profits in their homes," Loomis said. "It needs to be fixed."

Loomis said he also wants the county to have its own drug dog to combat the flow of drugs in the county rather than borrowing the Moscow Police Department's K-9.

Loomis, who spent the past seven years on the Latah County Zoning Commission, said zoning rules need to change to allow "local businesses to grow and flourish."

"Without anywhere to move and build, they are being held back," he said.

Lamar encourages lawmakers to provide tax relief by properly funding public education, public defense and other mandates on local governments. He also wants them to raise the homeowner exemption that the Idaho Legislature capped in 2016. The county is in a lawsuit with the Idaho State Tax Commission over its opposition to the current homeowners exemption.

Lamar said his other goals include working with staff to take on "community development, economic prosperity, improving broadband coverage, law enforcement, facility management and revising our county comprehensive plan."

Lamar highlighted his experience with the county and noted some of his achievements, including being involved in Medicaid expansion, championing local businesses and purchasing a building on Moscow'sBlaine Street that will be the new home of the Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Licensing offices.

Loomis said his duties on the zoning commission, as a real estate agent and as a longtime private business owner have prepared him to take on the role of county commissioner.

Kuipers can be reached at

Tom Lamar

Age: 62.

Education: Master of Science in environmental science, Washington State University; Bachelor of Arts in biology and anthropology, University of Delaware.

Work experience: Latah County Commissioner; Executive Director of the Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute (since 1990); taught Conservation Leadership at the University of Idaho for six years.

Previous political experience: eight years as Latah County Commissioner; seven and a half years as Moscow City Council member; previous committee appointments by four Moscow mayors, two Idaho Governors, and one U.S. Secretary of Agriculture; served as a substitute Idaho Senator for one week in 2021.

How long lived in area: 40 years.

Family: Raised three daughters in Moscow, and they graduated from the University of Idaho.


Brian Loomis

Age: 49.

Education: Moscow High school; Bachelor of Science in zoology, University of Idaho.

Work experience: 20 years Paradise Stables (horse ranch); 16 year real estate agent; eight years Idaho real estate boards and committees; seven years Latah County Commissioner on the zoning commission; eight years volunteer Moscow Bear Boosters board; six years Elks Lodge No. 249.

Previous political experience: None.

How long lived in area: 47 years.

Family: Married with six children.

Website: Facebook — Brian Loomis for Latah County Commissioner.


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