Bat Masterson

Bat Masterson Runs on Traditional Values, Accessibility, and Fiscal Responsibility

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DALTON GARDENS, Idaho – Bat Masterson lives on a ranch in the northern part of the county and is an “original” Kootenai County resident. He is a Vietnam veteran, a retired nurse, and a cowboy. “I’ve lived here my whole life,” Bat stated. “I’ve raised all my kids on the ranch and I still actively rodeo.”

Masterson is one of four candidates seeking the Republican nomination for Kootenai County Commissioner in District 1. He believes the county is wasting money and shared his thoughts and ideas on how to fix things during an interview with the Kootenai Journal on March 27.

As a longtime rodeo participant, Masterson travels have brought him to almost all the fairgrounds across the country. He still completes in team roping and currently holds three world championships in pistol shooting, as well as one national championship – all from horseback. He believes our county fairgrounds are one of the best in the country, especially as it situated in a prime location, making it ideal for year-round events which generates revenue for the county.

“The fairgrounds are clean, kept up, and active,” stated Masterson. “Last year they had 767 events.” He disclosed that his daughter is the current assistant manager at the fairgrounds and said she and the manager put a program together to make it self-sustaining. At present, their efforts have been successful and the fairgrounds operate without additional money from the county budget. 

He is firmly opposed to any proposal to move the fairgrounds. “The cost to replace it is $350 to $600 million, and that’s money the county does not have,” stated Masterson. “Other than the grandstands that are getting old, it’s a very nice facility, and those have been there since I was a boy.” 

When asked why he decided to run for elected office, he stated, “I don’t like what’s happened to the county, the current county commissioners just want to spend money, and they aren’t smart about how they spend it.” He continued by addressing the current justice center project and the old Kootenai Electric building the county purchased a few years ago. “The commissioners spend money without really getting the projects checked out, or finding out the final costs and holding the builders to those costs,” stated Masterson. He believes the end costs on the justice center project will approach $75 million, because “it’s a long way from being completed and already overbudget.”

As a fire commissioner for two terms and a state EMS commissioner, Masterson says he understands how to keep on top of capital improvement budgets. He says he would use experts in construction to advise the county so resources aren’t wasted, and likened it to how he hired managers to oversee houses he had built. “In the long run, they can save you a lot of costs.”

Another reason he is running is because he doesn’t like the lack of accessibility and transparency. “The public doesn’t know what the county commissioners are doing, and I believe they don’t want them to know,” shared Masterson. He used the “fiasco” over the old Kootenai Electric building as an example. “It was originally purchased for county offices – to move the community development, the building inspection department, the assessor’s office, and a couple others, and then all of a sudden, it goes to the sheriff.” He says the county is now looking for places to put the departments that were meant to be housed in the Kootenai North facilities.

He believes the commissioners should be holding regular meetings to be more accessible to residents. A setting where there is an engaged exchange of ideas, not just public comments at meetings. “At least once a month, or even every two weeks, to set up a day where the public can come in and have a cup of coffee with them. The commissioners need to commit to the citizens,” stated Masterson. “And there is no commitment right now.”

Additionally, he wants officials to take time to communicate and work things out. For instance, when the last board cut the assessor’s pay and the courts made them reverse that decision. “Why didn’t they just sit down and say, ‘Hey, we are way apart on this, let’s figure this out.’” Masterson believes they need to do this with the cities too. “Make an appointment and sit down and talk to each other, air their differences and get it worked out. It’s not rocket science,” he asserted. “What makes the system work is when you disagree and can still have a decent conversation about it.” When he was part of the state Emergency Medical System Physician Commission, he said getting a bunch of physicians to reach consensus on standards of care was no easy feat, but they managed to get it done for the benefit of Idaho residents.

Masterson shared the biggest reason he entered the race was because we are losing our traditional way of life in the county. “We have gone away from the rural atmosphere. I’m doing this for my kids and my grandkids.” He said he was instrumental in stopping a large development in the northern part of the county several years ago. 

He further described the need for traditional values which include the school system ending “non gender” bathrooms and sticking to classes with appropriate material for a school setting, marriage between a man and a woman, a discipline structure within society, and the authority of the parents. Additionally, he says the three most important words in his life are loyalty, integrity, and honesty. “Loyalty, to me, is part of the traditional values, as well as integrity and honesty,” stated Masterson. “But we are losing them, they are going out the door.” He said he was raised with these values and he passed them forward to his kids.

Masterson wants the community to focus on getting the best person into office, both at the county level and the smaller precinct races. He hopes the Republican factions will come together and start talking to each other. Masterson ended the interview with a chuckle at the political process and said, “Well, I learned something and the day the election is over, I’m going to be riding horses in the mountains, one way or the other.” 

Voters will select their party’s nominee for county level offices, the state legislature, and the US Congress on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Voters will also choose a precinct committeeman (PC) to sit on their party’s central committee. Kootenai County has 73 precincts and almost all of them have contested PC races on the Republican primary ballot. Early voting starts on May 6 and runs through May 17.