State says candidate OK not using her legal name

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Bernstein

HAYDEN — If the name Jillian Rae Lee Barker is unfamilar to voters in Hayden, it’s because that name is not on the City Council ballot this November.

Barker instead goes by Bernstein in her campaign literature, and Bernstein is the name on the ballot.

Bernstein is Barker’s married name.

According to the Idaho Secretary of State’s office, newly married candidates can use a name on a ballot that doesn’t match their legal name as long as a marriage certificate is presented to the city clerk, which is then forwarded to the county.

“Ultimately the county clerk is the driver,” election compliance specialist Roger Contreras said. “They would double-check that.”

What may seem confusing to voters does not seem untoward or out of the ordinary to Bernstein.

“I am not trying to confuse anyone,” she said.

As Barker, Bernstein ran a repossession business in California with her ex-husband before moving the business to Idaho 14 months ago. The business got dinged by the state’s consumer-protection agency because, Bernstein said, the repo game is one of hard knocks.

“It’s a very litigious business,” she said.

Bernstein said California is flush with regulations that advocate for consumers and make it hard to do business.

She moved Coeur d’Alene Valley Recovery Services to the Hayden home on Buckles Road owned by her parents, who live in Thousand Palms, Calif., and who have claimed a property tax exemption on the house and acreage.

Despite being sued last year in the U.S. Court of Eastern Washington — she was made to pay $50,000 — the Inland Northwest is more business friendly than her former home state, she said.

For voters who want to vet candidates, an online search of Jillian Bernstein will lead to her campaign website, but looking for Jillian Rae Lee Barker is more informative.

Bernstein lives with husband, Victor Hugo Bernstein, in the Hayden home from which she operates the repossession company.

She did not vote in last year’s election, she said, because of a busy life. She registered to vote in Idaho in August, a month before filing as a candidate.

Bernstein said the name issue passed muster with the secretary of state’s office and should not be used as a strike against her.

“I am a nice lady, I am a mom, and I don’t think I have behaved in a way that paints me in a negative light,” she said.

A self-described conservative Republican, Bernstein is running for a council seat against Matt Roetter in Hayden’s only contested race this year. Roetter, who has lived in Hayden for 35 years, is also a self-proclaimed conservative Republican. He was elected in 2015.

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