2018 primary election profiles Gubernatorial and Legislative contested races
ELECTION COVERAGE governor's race
Profile of Tommy Ahlquist By Lyndsie Kiebert Reader Staff Writer
Editor’s Note: This is the first of a series of profiles of political candidates running for office in Idaho. Starting with the gubernatorial race, we will publish profiles of each candidate leading up to the primary election in May. Tommy Ahlquist has a hard time talking about himself. He isn’t shy, or bad at articulating his thoughts. Ahlquist would just rather talk about the people who influenced his choices to be a doctor, a businessman and now, a Republican gubernatorial candidate. “In business, and as a doctor for all those years, you don’t talk about yourself — you talk about other people, and you let the results of your life be the results of your life,” Ahlquist said. “Then all of a sudden you get into (the race for governor), and that’s what it’s about: Why me and not someone else?” So why should Ahlquist be the next governor of Idaho? If you asked him, it would be because serving people is all he knows. “I couldn’t help but learn (to serve). That’s how I grew up,” he said. “It may sound corny, but that’s the way it was. If you want happiness, you’ll find it through serving.” Ahlquist cites his grandparents as his primary influences. He can recount elaborate memories of discussing God and friendship with his Grandpa Pettersson under willow trees, or delivering banana bread to neighbors with his Grandma Pettersson. Now, Ahlquist says he sees
that spirit of giving across the state. “Service is the heartbeat of Idaho, and it’s the heartbeat of what makes us great,” Ahlquist said. “There are inspiring stories everywhere you go.” Ahlquist visited Sandpoint on Nov. 3, 2017, as part of his “44 counties in 44 days” tour. He spoke at the Sandpoint Community Hall to a group of a few dozen locals, outlining what he calls his “conservative blueprint for an even better Idaho.” Small businesses, education, healthcare, tax reform, term limits and ethics are Ahlquist’s primary focuses as he sets his sights on the governor’s office. “It’s a list of ways we can improve our state, and it starts with re-focusing our priorities,” Ahlquist wrote in a campaign statement this month. Some of those priorities include eliminating regulations on small businesses, streamlining Idaho students to Idaho jobs and reforming tax code to make it more “fair, flat and simple for Idaho families and businesses.” Ahlquist is Mormon, and served as stake president of the Meridian Idaho North Stake of the LDS Church for a couple of years leading up to his declaration of candidacy. When the Idaho Statesman asked Ahlquist how his beliefs would play into his politics, he said he planned on “running as a businessman and physician, a husband and father.” “A lot of the best people in my life are of different religions,” he said, noting that most people can find common ground in the belief of a supreme being. “I hate it when
Tommy Ahlquist sits down for an interview with the Reader after speaking with employees of Northwest Specialty Hospital in Post Falls in November, 2017. Courtesy photo.
people pander and use religion in politics, and I don’t ever want to do that. It’s a delicate balance, because it does play into your life and who you are. I just always try to check myself.” As a “businessman and physician,” Ahlquist boasts a sizable resume. He spent nearly two decades as an emergency room doctor before transitioning in 2015 to focus exclusively on his growing real estate business. In the last 10 years, he has helped build over 2 million square feet of commercial property across Idaho, and is often credited with transforming downtown Boise, most notably with the Zion Bank Building, Idaho’s tallest building. He has also dabbled in a number of entrepreneurial projects and served on more than a dozen community boards and committees. This is Ahlquist’s first bid for office. In response to questions surrounding past donations to Democratic
campaigns, Ahlquist said it all comes down to good business. “I voted Republican my entire life, and the core values I believe in are all free markets and personal accountability: very, very much Republican,” he said during his visit to Sandpoint. “And in all fairness to people, I don’t have a voting record, but what I ask people to do is look at … how I’ve lived my life.” Having traveled the length and width of Idaho a number of times in the last year, Ahlquist said nothing compares to the stories, concerns and suggestions he’s heard from everyday Idahoans. “The richness of this experience cannot be put into words,” he said. “The enormity of the task that’s at hand and how people will rely on you as a leader and someone to look out for them and listen to them and fight for them — it’s humbling.” Learn more about Ahlquist and his platform by visiting tommyforidaho.com.
TOMMY AHLQUIST AT A GLANCE AGE: 50 BIRTHPLACE AND RESIDENCE: Born in Hunter, UT. Lives in Eagle, ID GOVERNMENT SERVICE: This is his first run for office PROFESSION: ER doctor, real estate developer and entrepreneur EDUCATION: B.S. Biology and Doctor of Medicine from the University of Utah FAMILY: He is married to his highschool sweetheart, Shanna. They have four children, two of which are married as of last summer. FUN FACT: Today, Jan. 25, is his birthday. Happy 50th birthday, Tommy! January 25, 2018 /
ELECTION COVERAGE governor's race
Profile of A.J. Balukoff When Democrat Anthony Joseph “A.J.” Balukoff ran for governor in 2014, he earned nearly 40 percent of the vote. It wasn’t enough, as Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter entered a third term with over 50 percent. Now, with Otter not running in the 2018 election, Balukoff enters the field with a leg up: This is not his first rodeo. Balukoff spoke with the Reader to highlight his platform and talk about what might be different this time around. SR: So you ran against Butch Otter in 2014. I’m wondering what you maybe learned from that race. Is there something that will be different about how you run this race? AB: The first thing that’s different is we don’t have an incumbent in the governor’s office, and I think that’s a big help because it’s extremely difficult to unseat an incumbent. The other thing that I think has changed is the political climate around the country, and I think in Idaho. Look at some of the other traditionally red states, whether it’s Alabama or Virginia or Georgia, there’s elected Democrats — and I think that’s going to happen in Idaho. We’ve been under a one-party domination for 57 years, and that party has led our state to the bottom in education, in median income, and people, I believe, are ready to change that and look in new directions to help Idaho rise up to its potential to be the best state in the union. SR: You were once registered as an independent, and you’ve contributed to candidates from both parties. Why have you chosen to run as a Democrat? AB: I think, like most Idahoans, I’m a pretty independent
thinker, and so in the past I have contributed to Republicans occasionally. But I’m a Democrat because overall the Democratic vision, the Democratic values align with me. I think if people were to take a good look at the Idaho Democratic Party and what we stand for, they will find that they line up very well with their personal values. We believe in treating people with dignity and respect. We believe in caring for our neighbors, helping people with needs, and we believe in preserving freedom and privacy. And I believe most Idahoans believe in that. SR: So you mentioned how Idaho is doing in education. As a long-time Boise School Board member, I’m guessing education is pretty important to you. Idaho is usually ranked last or next-to-last as far as the amount of money we spend on education. Why do you think that is, and how to we get closer to the national average? AB: Education is my top issue. I’ve been on the Boise School Board for 21 years working hard to improve education in our district and I’m proud to say that the schools there are some of the best in the state and in the nation. We have a constitutional requirement to maintain a general and uniform system of public schools. Our state is not living up to that, and we need to. We need to make sure that the quality of a child’s education is not dependent upon where they live. Kids in Mackay and Challis should have the same opportunities to take AP classes that we get in Boise. We haven’t lived up to that at this point. SR: There is currently a push to expand Medicaid in Idaho. Have you been following these efforts? For instance, Reclaim Idaho — the guys who started it are from Sandpoint.
A.J. Balukoff. Courtesy photo.
By Lyndsie Kiebert Reader Staff Writer
AB: I have been following that movement closely. Luke Mayville and his crew are going to be in Boise tomorrow (Jan. 13) and I plan to be there helping them collect signatures so we can put that on the ballot. When I ran in 2014, health care was high on my list of things we talked about. I urged the legislature to do something about it, and made the pledge that if they’d elected me, I’d expand Medicaid coverage to cover the people that don’t have it. Four years later, we’re still talking about it, so we’re either going to get it on the ballot, or we’re going to motivate the Legislature to expand Medicaid, and if that doesn’t happen, if I’m elected they will get tremendous pressure from the governor’s office to cover the 78,000 working Idahoans — mothers and fathers and veterans — that are currently not covered. SR: You have a Democratic challenger in Paulette Jordan. What makes you a better candidate? AB: My experiences as a business owner. I have created good-paying jobs and helped to
revitalize downtown Boise. In addition I’ve served 21 years on the Boise School Board, so I am intimately familiar with the issues that face education in Idaho and what it takes to raise the student achievement and the go-on rate for all students in our state. I’ve been on St. Luke’s Hospital Board in Boise for 12 years, so I’ve got a front row seat to what’s going on in health care. I think those are the types of things that would make me a better governor than any of the candidates that are currently running. SR: I’ll have you complete this sentence for me: “A.J. Balukoff should be governor of Idaho because…” AB: Because he will improve public schools, he will improve access to healthcare for all Idahoans, he will protect the public lands that are so important to our Idaho heritage and traditions, and he will make sure that we have equal pay for equal work, which we don’t have right now. Idaho women make 76 cents for every dollar that men make, and that’s not right, it’s not fair and we need to change that.
A.J. Balukoff AT A GLANCE AGE: 71 BIRTHPLACE AND RESIDENCE: Born in Mesa, Ariz., and currently lives in Boise. GOVERNMENT SERVICE: Mr. Balukoff has not been elected to public office before. PROFESSION: Businessman and accountant EDUCATION: Degree in accounting from Brigham Young University FAMILY: Wife, Susie, as well as eight kids and 36 grandchildren. FUN FACT: Balukoff was the first person in his family to attend college February 1, 2018 /
ELECTION COVERAGE governor's race By Ben Olson Reader Staff
Profile of Brad Little
Editor’s Note: These profiles are part of our weekly election coverage leading up to the primaries in May. This week, we feature a conversation with gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Brad Little. SPR: Tell me about your experiences in ranching and business that would make you a good candidate for Idaho Governor. BRAD LITTLE: I have lived the Idaho values of hard work, family, and faith. I can best represent the aspirations of Idahoans. In working the land and representing the cattle and sheep industries at the state and national levels, I have traveled across Idaho and seen incredible changes over the years. Teresa and I come from rural Idaho, where the largest employer— our local sawmill— shut down about 15 years ago. That sawmill has since reopened, but is more technologically advanced and has fewer employees. This challenge is happening across Idaho, in every industry. One saying from my ranching days is “change is inevitable, adaptation and survival are optional.” Idaho requires statewide leadership that has solutions on these challenges to ensure Idaho remains the premier place to live, work, and raise a family. SPR: You have served as Idaho’s lieutenant governor since 2009, and before that you served as a state senator from District 11. How have these experiences prepared you for this gubernatorial race? BL: I have a long track record of bringing stakeholders together to tackle big problems. I think my time as lieutenant governor has given me a perspective on what the Idahoans expect of their governor. Idaho is a diverse state and governors make dozens of decisions each day. You have to instinctively understand Idaho and the best interests of Idahoans in every corner of the state.
SPR: Idaho was recognized as the fastest-growing state in the nation last month. What ideas and methods do you have to plan for — and increase — this growth in a healthy way? BL: As lieutenant governor, one of my priorities has been economic development. I have learned what works and what doesn’t in this arena. I became lieutenant governor in 2009, at
the height of the economic downturn, when unemployment reached close to 10 percent. Since then, 100,000 jobs have been created, and Idaho has historic employment, and our wages are growing twice as fast as the national average. For every corner of Idaho to prosper, we need leadership on economic development and education which works to diversify our economy and add value to existing industries. Here in Sandpoint, there are several economic successes that have shown this diversification, including a burgeoning aerospace sector and several homegrown companies. Just last week, Litehouse Foods, a great homegrown company, celebrated their latest expansion of their facilities here in Sandpoint. For every corner of Idaho to prosper, we need leadership on economic development and education which works to diversify our economy and add value to existing industries. SPR: Your family has a long history of ranching in Idaho, both with sheepherding and later cattle. Incidents such as the “Sage Brush Rebellion” involving the Bundys disputing the federal government’s ownership of grazing land have put land use and management at the forefront of politics in the Northwest. Where do you stand on this issue? Do you take issue with the federal government owning land in the state of Idaho?
BL: I have a long history, as a cattle and sheep industry representative, of working on these public lands issues. In my younger days, I myself was a sage brush rebel, in the late 1970s. In 2000, as a rancher I joined a group to sue the Clinton Administration on their federally-mandated Roadless Rule for Idaho, which would have locked up a lot of land, including for recreationists. We won that lawsuit, giving Idaho the opportunity to write its own Roadless Rule in 2006. This was the first of its kind, and took into account the concerns of local communities and stakeholders. Local communities across Idaho should have more say in the day-to-day management of public lands in our state. Idaho must do all it can to work constructively on these issues and find solutions. I think all interested parties welcome a collaborative approach, and Idaho has several examples of these successes— from Good Neighbor Authority to Rangeland Fire Protection Associations. SPR: The Idaho Republican Party seems to have fractured on ideological lines in the past decade,
with moderate Republicans clashing with those on the right wing of the Republican Party who identify as ideological “patriots” or “liberty-minded” lawmakers. How will you work to unify the Republican Party under such division?
BL: I have a long history of being active in Idaho Republican politics that started when I was 10 years old at my first Idaho GOP convention— from the grassroots as a precinct committeeman, to volunteering within Idaho on statewide and presidential elections. I am proud of this record and believe I can use this to lead our party, emphasizing our common conservative values.
SPR: There are those that believe President Trump’s influence on the Republican brand will have either a positive or negative effect on those running as Republicans in the 2018 election. Does this factor into your running platform? BL: I’m running as an Idahoan to serve Idahoans. I did support President Trump in 2016. My platform is built on creating more opportunities for our children and grandchildren, while keeping Idaho the best place in the country to live and raise a family. SPR: There is a current push to expand the Medicaid gap in Idaho. Have you followed these efforts? What are your thoughts on this?
BL: Yes. The fact is “no action solution” is not an option. We waited for the Congress and President to follow through with their promise to repeal and replace. They failed. Idahoans cannot wait. Thousands of families have seen their premiums increase astronomically. Therefore, it is up to the state to act and we are doing so. Last month, I joined Gov. Otter in signing an executive order laying the groundwork for more affordable health care options for individuals and families who have been priced out of health insurance. In addition to this executive order, the Legislature and governor are considering additional proposals to help Idahoans in the gap. SPR: Education continues to be an important issue in Idaho. Our state is usually ranked either last or next to last in the amount of money the state spends on education. Why is that? What are your ideas for improving education in Idaho? BL: In the past four years, Idaho has invested an additional third of a billion dollars in education. For the first time in decades, Idaho had a five-year strategic plan for education,
which brought together education stakeholders, including parents, teachers and administrators, and industry. Just a few weeks ago, I visited the Clark Fork, Lake Pend Orielle and Sandpoint High Schools. I saw firsthand the incredible work your teaching professionals are doing in the classrooms of Bonner County. One area Idaho has work to do is blurring the lines between K-12, career-technical education, community colleges and universities. As I mentioned, Idaho’s economy is integrating more technology, and new jobs require greater skills and educational attainment from our citizens. This will be my focus when I am governor. SPR: Among your platforms are efforts to reduce taxes and limiting government in Idaho. Why are these important issues for the average Idaho constituent?
BL: Idaho has the fastest-growing economy in America, and that is due to hard work of Idahoans across the state. As Idaho revenues pour into our general fund, surpassing our projections and allowing us to make investments in priorities like education, it is the right thing to provide tax relief to each and every Idahoan. SPR: Complete this sentence: “Brad Little should be governor of Idaho because...”
BL: I am running for governor because I want all Idahoans to have the opportunity to remain in Idaho, or those who left to return. We must stop exporting our most precious resource, our children. The best way to do that is firstly to create great jobs here in Idaho, and secondly to stand up for Idaho values and our unparalleled way of life. SPR: Anything you’d like to add that we haven’t covered?
BL: To tackle the future challenges on issues like education, infrastructure and information security, we must step up our efforts to build a more skilled workforce, reward innovation in achieving our goals and hold government more accountable. That includes keeping taxes fair, simple, predictable and competitive, while keeping regulations minimal, reasonable and responsible.
Brad Little AT A GLANCE AGE: 63 BIRTHPLACE AND RESIDENCE: Emmett, Idaho GOVERNMENT SERVICE: Lt. Governor of Idaho PROFESSION: Rancher, farmer, small businessman. EDUCATION: Emmett Public Schools. University of Idaho. FAMILY: Wife of 39 years, Teresa. Two sons and daughtersin-law. Five grandchildren. FUN FACT: My grandkids are seventh generation Idahoans through my wife’s family. Her great-great grandfather was a Civil War veteran in the Union Army, who received a veteran land grant in the 1880s and began farming on the Palouse, near Genesee, Idaho (in Latah County). Members of her family still farm that ground. One generation later, Teresa’s great-grandfather served in the Idaho House of Representatives in the 1890s, where he voted to give women the right to vote in 1896— the fourth state to do so, 24 years before it was included in the U.S. Constitution. February 8, 2018 /
By Cameron Rasmusson Reader Staff
Profile of Paulette Jordan
Editor’s Note: These profiles are part of our weekly election coverage leading up to the primaries in May. This interview has been edited for length. SR: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Paulette. To start out, could you tell us a little about your background and how it informs your political ideas?
PJ: One thing I haven’t noticed from the other candidates and makes me stand apart, I think, is the fact that my people all raised me. There’s the saying that a community raises a child, so when I say that Idaho raised me, it’s why I always want to give back and contribute in every way possible. Idaho did really raise me. Because I was raised in the countryside, we cultivated a perspective where … if one of us is hurting, we’re all hurting. And that still applies when you’re successful. The minute I graduated high school, everyone was happy, because they knew I would always come back to make the community a better place. The same goes for our children. We want our children to succeed because … we know they will build upon what we started. … So I feel very special in that way, because I came from this state and was born and raised in this area. Of course, my land is here, as are the people I grew up with … and when you’re raised by a certain community, and you have these values attached, that really drives your voice across both parties, or any party, really. It goes beyond politics. It goes into the hearts of the people. … Then there’s this whole perspective of self-reliance and fierce independence which we love. … We’re a subsistence culture: We are connected to the land, we farm the land, we hunt and fish, but there’s also this sense of giving back, too. We take care of it, because we are the ultimate stewards of it. That’s how I see my voice being different as far as my values go: how I was brought up. It’s what (defines) my identity as a candidate for Idaho governor.
SR: So when you think about those values, how do you apply them when determining your priorities for the state? What do you think are the most pressing issues facing Idaho in the coming years? PJ: I think that’s what makes me the strongest of the candidates. I and many others are really turned off by politics altogether and how we see people constantly ... mudslinging and deceiving the public, deceiving our businesses, deceiving our youth and future generations. (The process has) become more corrupt and less productive for the people at large. People want to see something in terms of growth. They want to see what’s going to happen with their health care, with their job opportunities. Our youth are looking for good schools … and for opportunities to grow and excel. … As long as we can stay away from the politics and really look at where all the problems are, (we can fix them) on both sides. Rather than staying in our party boxes, people should look at their value system and the more important things. Let’s protect our water and protect our land. Let’s ensure that we’re protecting our air quality. And of course, it’s about … developing our strategy for the future that isn’t based on politics, but on the fact that we want to invest in our future and our youth. … For me, it’s all about connection to the land. One of the issues I’ve seen is … how we want to exchange our Idaho lands and federal lands when ultimately it’s about stewardship. It’s about ensuring we’re keeping our Good Neighbor Authority agreements intact … so we can broaden out opportunities for logging contracts to properly manage them. That ensures that more jobs are coming in … (and helps) with fire suppression. That’s what I think will help my candidacy: When people see someone who is tied to the land and who has been in the trenches … ensuring we’re finding solutions for the problems we see. Those problems are always going to be there as long as we’re focused on the politics. … When you don’t have leadership that’s willing to listen to every single voice in the state, then you lack an opportunity to hear oth-
er solutions. For me, in my ability to listen to other voices, I see that as true justice for all. That is true opportunity for every individual.
SR: If you win the Democratic primary election, what kind of campaign strategy to you envision for a state that has voted Republican so consistently for so long? PJ: Not to give away my entire strategy between you and me — and I say that with a smile. But I honestly think that what has happened in the past with so much voter suppression and challenging the people’s ability to have voice means that the people will fight back. They will rise above it. They will vote for it. … They will stop voting against their interests by voting for one party … because they’ll see it hasn’t done them any good in the long term. Our people are very intelligent, and they will speak independently. They won’t vote for the party, they will vote for the person. I focus on the people at large. I don’t discriminate against someone because they’re a Republican, or because they’re a Democrat, because they haven’t voted before, because they’re unaffiliated or an independent. I focus my campaign on every single citizen of Idaho, and those are the people I’m going to be talking to.
SR: Nationwide, we’ve seen some surprising Democratic victories in traditionally Republican states and districts. Many see that as a backlash against President Donald Trump. Do you think that’s a trend that could spread to Idaho? PJ: I have a lot of friends who voted for Trump, and I think that’s because they wanted to see something different. I think it’s the same for those states that voted Democrat. There are some who want to see some change, who want to change the leadership at hand. I think it will be the same for Idaho. Perhaps it won’t be on the same note as what we’re seeing with the president, but I think (Idaho voters) see this is a good change. This change will improve our system. This change will improve the lay of the land.
Paulette Jordan. Courtesy photo. SR: You recently announced that you appointed a long-term substitute to fill your legislative seat so you can focus on your campaign. What led up to that decision, and what was the reaction like? PJ: The reaction has been excellent from everyone. Well, I should say mixed. There are those who are sad to see me leave the legislative body, … but that is part of the bittersweet feeling I’m talking about. Many understand it’s a good decision and are 100-percent supportive because they want to see me focused on the governorship. … I’m all in for Idaho, and that means 100-percent commitment to the race, because if you’re running for governor, you have to be all in. You have to be focused on every single issue, every single community, every single individual that needs your attention, because they’re trying to make a very thoughtful decision as to who their next governor will be.
SR: Is there anything else you would like to mention that perhaps we didn’t cover? PJ: I just want to thank the folks in Sandpoint. Every time I visit, which is at least three times now, it’s been an amazing visit. I’ve seen some divisiveness there, but ultimately, I know there are lots of good people on all sides. We can always disagree on issues, but when it comes down to it, we’re part of the same community. … I know in Sandpoint, they’re dealing with the smelter, they’re dealing with the railroads and coal trains — threats on every single side, including around the lake. My wish is for everyone to focus on the threats that face them in that community and come together on all the right issues. As governor I would make sure to fight those developments that would harm our people, and I think our leadership should stand strong against those issues.
February 15, 2018 /
ELECTION COVERAGE governor's race
Profile of Raul Labrador By Reader
T O N D I D o t d n respo e l p i t l mu w e i v r inte s t s e u req
Raul Labrador AT A GLANCE AGE: BIRTHPLACE AND RESIDENCE: GOVERNMENT SERVICE: PROFESSION: EDUCATION: FAMILY: FUN FACT:
ELECTION COVERAGE US Representative race District 1
Profile of Russ Fulcher
By Cameron Rasmusson Reader Staff Editor’s Note: Since gubernatorial candidate Raul Labrador didn’t follow through to our interview request, we are moving onto the U.S. Representative race. It’s a packed race, so we’re just focusing on candidates that have actively campaigned in North Idaho. Russ Fulcher recently took the time to visit the Reader office to talk about the issues, so we’ll begin with him.
SR: Thanks for sitting down with us, Russ. What have you been focusing your efforts on during your visit to North Idaho? RF: We’ve got a network of volunteers as part of our overall campaign organization. … So first and foremost is to meet with them and give them an update on campaign strategy … and from a managerial standpoint find out where the needs are. Secondly, I’m making sure I have the right intel on what’s important. Unless you’re on the ground in the region, you might assume what the big issues are. You’ve got to know a local. … So I get tuned up and educated on some of the local stuff: the Scotchman Peaks and the smelter. If you’re further down south you don’t get exposed to those issues a lot. Thirdly, I’m just trying to meet as many people as I can. … It’s part of the campaign — you’re out selling yourself, so that’s what we’re doing.
SR: Let’s talk about the issues. What are some of the most important you’ve encountered as you’ve been campaigning? RF: Probably the two most prolific on a district-wide basis … are health care and immigration. You also have the tax issue that is still fresh on people’s minds with the Trump agenda and tax reforms. SR: And how do you think those big national issues circle back to affect Idaho?
RF: I learned recently that there’s been a pretty focused discussion on refugee resettlement in the region. That has been an ongoing issue further south for
a long time. Twin Falls has been ground zero on that issue in Idaho. Immigration is the lynchpin in what’s going on literally right now in the federal government with the government shutdown where DACA is kind of the hostage that is responsible for that hold up. One of the things that has been a mission on this trip is to run past people locally, “OK, here is the compromise that is on the table. Good thing? Bad thing?” For the most part, people think it’s a good thing, and that seems to be a little bit uniform across the state. … But there’s some concern that some of the federal resettlement structure could be directed north, and I’ve been getting feedback on that for all the reasons you might think.
SR: You know, we haven’t heard any confirmation that refugee resettlement is actually being considered for this region. But it certainly seems to be a mobilizing issue for people here, especially on the conservative side of the spectrum. RF: More so than the security-related issues, (people are worried about) the fiscal cost and ramifications of it and to what extent entitlements would be on the table. For a smaller economy with the sensitivities here, I can understand the concern. SR: The other big issue you cited is health care, and everyone seems to have a different idea on how it should be handled. What’s your take on the issue?
RF: Thankfully, with tax reform the mandate went away, and that’s a huge change. Something that allows more free-market, private alternatives to be injected into the system I think is absolutely huge, and that’s something I wanted to see in the gubernatorial race earlier, and that’s starting to manifest itself. The encouragement of private clinics for imaging care as opposed to hospital and emergency rooms. The transparency where providers need to provide a cost up front before proceeding with a procedure. The allowance of the sale of insurance across state lines to increase competition. Those solutions work if
you give them a chance.
SR: We’re seeing a lot of those ideas in the statewide plan proposed at the beginning of the year by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter. What do you think of that? RF: I’m glad you asked, because Gov. Otter, welcome to 2012. That’s exactly what I proposed in 2012, and ultimately one of the things that led me to run for governor at that time was for the state to step forward and create a pathway for affordable insurance. … So I’m thankful. To me, it’s a little bit late, but it’s here.
SR: Let’s talk about the race itself. It’s a pretty packed primary, so what are the challenges you face in bringing Republicans onto your side.
Russ Fulcher. Courtesy photo.
RF: We’re in a very strong position right now, but campaigns are funny things. There’s a long way to go, and I take nothing for granted. There’s a lot of people in the field, so you need to be able to distinguish yourself. We’ve got an extremely strong network, and we’ve been able to finance things well, so that’s going to enable us to communicate better as we get just a little bit closer. … That said, now the challenge is messaging in accordance with the issues that are important to people: immigration, health care, being able to proliferate ideas and hopefully well-thought-out solutions for those issues. … I also want people to know I don’t have a monopoly on wisdom here. I’m open to ideas.
driving to. If he adheres to that agenda in terms of tax reform and economic job creation and those types of things, I am very likely to be a friend in the legislative branch for Donald Trump. I’m no person’s disciple, however, and my job is to be the representative of Idaho and stand up for its best interests. … Interesting to note, however, that the mix of Republicans to Democrats in the U.S. House is likely to be a lot tighter after the next election. So that’s going to probably magnify the impact the Idaho delegation has in what truly gets support … and it will be important to have allies for that agenda. I intend to be one.
RF: Great question, and I’ve thought about that a lot. Full disclosure: I was a Ted Cruz delegate. I went to Cleveland, and I was part of the Cruz campaign. Soon as Cruz was out, I did immediately shift over to Trump because I knew the alternative. Now that he’s been in and operating, I honestly believe he’s the right guy at the right time. That said, my personal style is different. In general, I would be very supportive of the agenda he’s laid out and the agenda he’s
RF: Again, very insightful question. … Ironically, I see the Trump agenda as having a little bit of a unifying effect on the split party dynamics in our own state. People … seem to be rallying around the more populist type of a push. I don’t see as much territorial positioning that has been there in the past. It’s still there, but it seems to have been reduced it a bit. … The lines between the various stakeholders have been blurred in the last couple years, and I see that as a good thing.
SR: If you’re elected, how do you envision yourself working with the Trump administration?
SR: Given where Republican politics are these days, what are your ideas for unifying the more conservative wing and the more moderate wing of the party?
SR: Just to wrap up, is there any particular message you want to impress upon voters? RF: My history, my record and my qualifications are extremely easy to validate, and I put them up against anyone in this state — or any other state, for that matter — in terms of being qualified to represent a state in the U.S. Congress. I couple that with having a servant’s heart and being open to wise counsel.
Russ Fulcher AT A GLANCE AGE: 55 BIRTHPLACE AND RESIDENCE: Meridian born and raised. Russ grew up on the family dairy farm in Meridian and has lived in Meridian his whole life. GOVERNMENT SERVICE: Former state senator for 10 years, served in leadership as Majority Caucus Chairman for six years. PROFESSION: International businessman and real estate broker. EDUCATION: Masters in Business Administration from Boise State Univ. Electronic Engineering certificate through Micron Technology and Energy Management certificate from Univ. of Idaho. FAMILY: Russ’ lovely wife is Kara, and kids are Meghan, Ben and Nikki (all three college grads in their 20s). FUN FACT: Russ has done business for Idaho tech companies in 47 countries and all 50 states February 22, 2018 /
ELECTION COVERAGE US Representative race District 1
Profile of Luke Malek
By Cameron Rasmusson Reader Staff Editor’s Note: This week’s profile features State Rep. Luke Malek, who is running for U.S. representative for District 1. SR: Thanks for taking time out of a busy day to talk to us, Luke. You’re running in a pretty packed Republican primary for Idaho’s U.S. representative seat in District 1. What do you think you need to do to distinguish yourself from the other candidates? LM: I think the thing that distinguishes me from the pack is my reputation for being a hard worker. The reality is many people in Congress are going to work to solve hard problems, and that’s the reputation that I’ve built in the (Idaho) Legislature — that of a problem solver. Everything we’ve faced on a state level, I’ve been a leader on solving those issues and working with anyone that is willing to work toward a solution to make tomorrow better. SR: So when it comes to the issues that need work, what are you seeing as your priorities? Let’s start on the state level. LM: Well, I think health care is still one of the biggest issues, and the reality is we need to move toward more local and state control, we need better outcomes and above all we need lower costs. And that means we need to have more access in an affordable way. The reality is the federal government can’t provide that, so we need changes at both the federal level and the state level to help facilitate those outcomes. SR: On that subject, what do you think of the health care proposals Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter put forward and its recent failure in the Legislature? LM: That was pulled from the floor yesterday and sent back to committee because they didn’t have enough votes. I am a fan (of the proposal), and what I’ve always fought for is more local control. What that bill did was say, “Listen, we have the ability to maintain and manage our insurance market better than the federal government can, so give us (that) authority.” Sadly, we didn’t do that, because I think that bill would
have been really good at giving us more state power to reduce the cost of health care for all Idahoans. I’m disappointed it got pulled, and I hope something changes. SR: Do you think changes can be made to the bill this session, or will it be kicked down the road to next year? LM: I’m hopeful it will happen this year, I really am. But I don’t know that it will. I think it’s too early to say, and I think if anything happens, it will be toward the end of the session. SR: As for issues on the federal level, what do you think are the biggest concerns facing the country? LM: I think health care is a federal issue as well. We need representatives that are going to go back and work to give states and localities more control, to get the government out of our doctor-patient relationships. … The other thing is that we have to work to build collaboratives. Just because the federal government has authority doesn’t mean that it has to cut the state out of the decision-making process. Federal land management is the number-one example of that, and we have the ability at a state level to help federal government manage land better. SR: When it comes to Congress’ failure to address the health care issue, what has tripped them up on that and what can be done to address it? LM: We need a commitment from lawmakers that they’re going to work on solutions. The reality is that you have certain lawmakers that blow up any solution, but they never bring anything to the table. We need lawmakers who will take a conservative state-and-local approach to this and work on solutions. SR: In the middle of that debate is the Trump Administration, which certainly has its own style of operation. How do you see yourself working with that administration? LM: This administration has done a fantastic job of beginning to roll back regulations that have not been pushed by Congress but have been pushed by agencies. We need good regulations, but we don’t need frivolous regulation, and that is something that has been the hallmark of my legislative career. I’ll be aligned with the Trump Administration on that.
When it comes to making Idaho a better place, the president will not find a more willing partner than me. SR: What issues specific to Idaho do you think need to be brought to the forefront in this administration? LM: You have to look at our traditional industries here in Idaho and see where the federal government has been stopping job creators from creating jobs. You look at mining, timber, agriculture, manufacturing, and you look across the spectrum from regulation to trade agreements to taxes: What are the federal policies that are keeping job creators from creating jobs that pay a good wage? SR: With so many opponents in the Republican primary for this seat, where do you think the momentum is in this campaign? LM: I think the momentum is in our favor. … People want members of Congress that will work on solutions. What we’re hearing as we spread our message is people want a conservative who is willing to work hard, skin their knuckles and do the hard work to make solutions happen. SR: North Idaho is an area of the state that often gets overlooked, but being from here, you have a unique ability to engage with the region that other candidates might not. How are you reaching out to these voters? LM: These are the people I grew up with. I was the northern regional director for the office of the governor, so I built a number of relationships from the Canadian border to Lewiston. I grew up hear in the Post FallsCoeur d’Alene area, I spent time up in Sandpoint and my law firm has an office in Sandpoint. This is home to me. No Congressman has been able to say that since the 1950s. SR: It’s still a long way to the primary election. What will your campaign do to stay engaged with the voters? LM: We’re going to be doing everything we can to be spreading the message that we are going to work hard to come up with solutions for the problems that face the country. That’s what resonates with voters, and that’s the reality that we need people to understand. So we’ll do everything we can to push that message out … in social media and in person. We’re
Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene. Courtesy photo.
going to be traveling all over the district talking about my successes in the Legislature and what our district will look like if I’m in Congress. SR: What are some of the most valuable experiences in your professional and public career you bring to the table? LM: Being a small business owner has been among the most informative experiences to me. You need to navigate what success looks like not only for my business but for the people relying on it. That’s the reality most Idahoans who are voting are looking for. SR: Is there any message or topic we didn’t go over that you want to send out to voters? LM: I grew up in Idaho, and I want my kids and grandkids to grow up in Idaho. We need a good relationship with our Congressman to set our state up for the brightest future it can have. I don’t need to do this. I don’t want to live in Washington, D.C. But the reality is someone needs to put in the hard work to ensure we’re building a bright future, so that’s why my wife and I decided to do this.
Luke Malek AT A GLANCE AGE: 36 BIRTHPLACE AND RESIDENCE: Luke was born in Wyoming and moved to North Idaho at the age of 9. He currently resides in Idaho’s District 4 in Kootenai County. GOVERNMENT SERVICE: Intern for Larry Craig, North Idaho Regional Director for Jim Risch, Executive Director of the Post Falls Urban Renewal Agency, Deputy Prosecutor for Kootenai County and Idaho State Representative for District 4 PROFESSION: Lawyer and Idaho State Representative for District 4 EDUCATION: Undergrad at the College of Idaho and Juris Doctorate from the University of Idaho FAMILY: Tara Malek (spouse) FUN FACT: Luke used to shoe horses in high school and college March 1, 2018 /
ELECTION COVERAGE US Representative race District 1
Overview of Congressional Candidates Michael Snyder. By Cameron Rasmusson Reader Staff
Editor’s Note: The U.S. Congressional Representative race for District 1 is packed with candidates, so we’ve decided to focus our profiles on the two candidates that reached out to us during their campaign – Russ Fulcher and Luke Malek (see the two previous issues for their profiles). This week we’ve decided to include a brief bit of information about the remaining candidates. Next week we’ll move onto the State Senate District 1 with a profile of candidate Jim Woodward.
REPUBLICAN PRIMARY: Russ Fulcher, profile printed in Feb. 22 issue of the Reader. Luke Malek, profile printed in Feb. 29 issue of the Reader. Christy Perry, a Republican from Canyon County, hopes to build upon her four terms in the Idaho House with a move into federal office. Raised in Middleton, Perry touts her small business credentials and state government experience as the preparation she needs to support gun rights, cut spending and cut taxes in D.C.
Donald Roy Miller (no photo found).
Find out more at: christyperryforidaho.com Michael Snyder, a sixyear Bonners Ferry resident, brands himself as a pro-Donald Trump Christian conservative. An author of four books, Snyder says his commitment to issues like opposition to abortion, limited government, gun rights and the abolition of the IRS, the Fed and income tax make him the choice for conservatives. Find out more at: michaelsnyderforcongress.com Alex Gallegos is a 26year military professional and veteran who retired as a lieutenant colonel. He hopes to bring his leadership experience acquired during his military career to Washington, D.C. According to Gallegos, tackling issues like the national debt, spending, security, trade and immigration will require “representatives with fresh perspectives, courage, common sense, and bold leadership.” Find out more at: alexforidaho.com Nick Henderson, a veteran, cites his experience with the military, commercial aviation, technology, business ownership and government as
the backbone of his credentials for U.S. Congress. Chief issues in his platform include strong support for Second Amendment rights, tax reform, education, active management in federal forests and controlled immigration policies. Find out more at: nickhenderson.vote With a public career that includes terms as Ada County prosecutor, Idaho attorney general, Idaho lieutenant governor, acting governor of Idaho for 254 days and U.S. nuclear waste negotiator, Dave LeRoy promises to shake up Washington as Congressman. He aims to fix “a broken tax code,” cut spending, tighten up border security and work on education and health care reform. Find out more at: leroyforidaho.com
James Vandermaas, a retired law enforcement officer with experience in small business, telecommunications and nonprofits, believes Idahoans aren’t being properly represented in Congress and hopes to fix that. Vandermass aims to achieve policies that benefit the middle class, from tax reform that avoids “trickle-down” approaches to improved health care through strengthened and expanded federal programs. Find out more at: votevandermaas.com Among Post Falls resident Michael Smith’s many platform positions are support for a single-payer health care system, green and renewable energies, a nationwide living wage, lowered taxes on households making less than $750,000 and businesses making less than $5 million and reformed police policies on deadly force. He also calls for ending the use of for-profit
prisons and addressing the issue of unmanageable student debt. Find out more at: facebook.com/MichaelW Smith2018/ Donald Roy Miller of Meridian is also running in the Democratic primary but has little information available to the public. Here is a short list of upcoming profiles in the Sandpoint Reader: March 15 - Jim Woodward March 22 - Danielle Ahrens March 29 - Scott Herndon April 5 - Heather Scott April 12 - Mike Boeck Please note, we are only publishing profiles for candidates that are in contested primary races.
March 8, 2018 /
ELECTION COVERAGE State Senator race District 1
Profile of Jim Woodward By Ben Olson Reader Staff Sen. Shawn Keough announced last year that this would be her last term serving District 1 as a state senator after more than 20 years, the race is wide open. The first profile from this race features Republican candidate Jim Woodward. 1. Tell me a little about your history in North Idaho and how that makes you a good candidate as a state senator for District 1? My family has been in this state a long time. Our family history goes back to 1908 in Elk River. One of my dad’s parents first made it out there as part of the Potlatch Corporation. We’ve been in Sandpoint since the early ‘70s and then up to Bonners Ferry. What people call the Pine St. Bakery I used to call home. That was our house in the early ‘70s. My dad was a city engineer and administrator in Bonners Ferry. I graduated from Bonners Ferry High School in 1988, went to University of Idaho, then off to the Navy and came back because it was the right place to be. 2. Tell me about your experience in the Navy I spent 21 years in the Navy total, a third in active service, and twothirds in the Navy Reserve. I served on Trident missile submarines, was trained in nuclear power and nuclear weapons. I was trained to operate a submarine as well. 3. Shawn Keough has served District 1 as State Senator since 1996 and endorsed you for this race. What do you think of the legacy she has left for North Idaho, and how do you plan to fill her shoes if elected? Senator Keough has set the bar high for public service. I’ve only known her for a year now, but I’ve had the opportunity to observe her actions and leadership for many years. She is widely respected throughout the community and in Boise because of her willingness to listen and her tireless effort in making things happen for Legislative District 1 and for the state. I understand the significance of open communication with members of the district and listening to all sides of a conversation when we’re making a statewide decision.
4. You list education as a pretty big part of your platform. We’re generally next to last in the nation as far as funding per pupil on the federal level. Is there any way to help increase funding for education in Idaho? I think we need to take a hard look at it. We’re in a paradigm where a big portion of our funding used to come from federal timber sales, but those have dropped off significantly in the last 30 years. And we haven’t stepped back and said, ‘We’ve lost this, it was our source, how do we deal with that?’ It’s a long-term goal. 5. It seems like more and more lawmakers have identified as a “liberty” or “freedom” lawmaker, which promotes more local over big government, ideological issues over pragmatic issues. Would you consider yourself as a “liberty” lawmaker, or are you more interested in pragmatic issues like infrastructure. I’m a pragmatist, not an ideologue. I think the closer we keep decisions to home, the better decisions we come up with that match the situation. A blanket decision across the whole country might not be the best for us. But I know as a business owner, the only way you get paid is you accomplish something. 6. Politics has always been a rough and tumble arena, but the last couple years, it’s become very polarized. Does that concern you, or is that why you’ve become involved? That’s definitely part of the reason I want to be involved. I think we’re headed down the wrong path when we become so divided or so polarized. We should use our system of government to establish the basics for how to get along. The role of government is to take care of the tasks we can’t accomplish individually. … The divisiveness we’ve seen in politics hurts us, it doesn’t help us. I think that’s why we see fewer and fewer people interested in being involved. There are people who are there because of an ideology, not because of an interest to figure out how to work and live together. It’s part of the reason I’m asking to serve as a state senator. I see a need.
7. Let’s talk about your business career after your service in the Navy.
Jim Woodward with “juliet” (his puppy) and “jasmine” (his full grown golden). courtesy photo.
I own Apex construction services, and we’ve been in operation since 2008. I proved that you can start right during the middle of the Great Recession. We just focus on getting done for people what they ask for. My in-laws own a small business, and they told me, being successful in a small business is simply letting people know what you can do and when they ask you to do it, follow through and get it done. And that’s what we’ve always done. 8. You’ve also listed transportation and infrastructure as an important part of your campaign platform? Why are those important issues to focus on? It’s a part of our economy. Whether we’re working or playing, to be able to travel and do it in a reasonable amount of time. The population of Idaho (is growing). That places extra demand on the infrastructure, both the recreational and work aspect of it. So it’s not just a matter of maintaining but we have to increase our capacity or we’ll get to the point where it’s not pleasant to go anywhere. 9. Where do you fall on the following issues? The HiTest Silicon Smelter proposed for Newport, Wash.? There’s a process in place for permitting that. We need to follow that, and part of it is public input. … I went to the forum at Newport and I know Idaho DEQ is engaged in it, but it is outside our political boundary. … I’m open to hearing the discussion. The Scotchman Peaks Wilderness designation? I’d like to see that ground protected for future generations, and wilderness designation may be the correct way to do that, but we need to remember that wilderness designation comes through an individual bill, it doesn’t have to be the boilerplate Wilderness Act. When you look at the Frank Church Wilderness Area, it has air strips in it. That’s an example of an exception. So when that individual piece of legislation is written, we can take into account needs that are specific to Scotchman Peak Wilderness, which in this case involve wildfire management because it’s so close to
Clark Fork and wildlife management. With a properly crafted piece of legislation, we could protect that area for future generations. 10. In recent years, it seems the Republican party in Idaho has retreated to corners where one side has gone further right and the other side, 20 years ago, which would have been considered staunch conservatives, are being labeled as “RINOs.” How do you see that effecting this race? I’ve already been labeled as a RINO. My response to that is, I’m not an INO, which is an Idahoan in Name Only. I present myself as I am. I’d like to represent the people of Idaho and all of the people of the district. So I probably fall in that camp of what would have been, in the past, a conservative Idaho Republican. I’ll stay true to my roots. … My day to day efforts will be focused on what I consider my platform: education, infrastructure and providing opportunities for people to live and take care of themselves. At that same time, I’ve always worked toward bringing people together. When people ask, ‘Why are you interested in joining politics?’ I say, “I’m not interested in politics, I’d like to serve in public decision making.’ That’s the message I’d like people to know. We can take some of the drama out of it and take care of our representative system of government.
JIM WOODWARD AT A GLANCE AGE: 47 BIRTHPLACE AND RESIDENCE: Born in Anacortes, Wash. Moved to North Idaho when he was 2 years old. Currently live in Sagle on Dufort Road. GOVERNMENT SERVICE: Served on Northern Lights board 4 years, on East Bonner County Snowmobile Groomer Advisory Board, was volunteer Sagle District Fire Commissioner. PROFESSION: Owner of Apex Construction, 21 years service in the Navy active and reserve on Trident nuclear submarines. EDUCATION: Univ. of Idaho – Mechanical engineering degree. High School at Bonners Ferry HS. FAMILY: Brenda (wife), son Avery, daughter Anna. FUN FACT: Grew up in house now known as the Pine St. Bakery. “That was our house in the early ‘70s. I learned to ride a bicycle right out front when I was a kid.” March 15, 2018 /
ELECTION COVERAGE State Senator race District 1
Profile of Danielle Ahrens
By Cameron Rasmusson Reader Staff Editor’s Note: Danielle Ahrens is running as a Republican in the State Senate District 1 race. Sandpoint Reader: Thanks for talking with us today, Danielle. To begin, how would you describe the differences between you and your opponent to voters? Danielle Ahrens: I think the differences are that I’m pro-life — I’m on the board of directors at Life Choices Pregnancy Center — so that is a really important issue to me, because that’s one of our three pillars. You protect life, liberty and property. If you get one of those wrong, to me, you get them all wrong. The other thing is I’m very strong pro-Second Amendment,
Danielle Ahrens AT A GLANCE AGE: 58 BIRTHPLACE AND RESIDENCE: Glendale Air Force base in Arizona. My Dad was a Captain with the U.S.Public Health service a branch of the Army. I live on a ranch in Samuels. GOVERNMENT SERVICE: County Sheriff Deputy, Correctional Officer. PROFESSION: Community Volunteer. Board of Directors for Life Choices Pregnancy Center, Bonner County Farm Bureau Government Affairs Chairman, Sandpoint Community Resource Center, former Bonner County Republican Central Committee Chairman. Currently Legislative District One Republican Chairman. EDUCATION: B.A. Psychology, A.A Business, P.O.S.T. certificate Police Academy, Correctional Officer Academy, University of Idaho Non Profit leadership certification (working on). FAMILY: Large family of 30+ in the area. Due to respect for privacy I won’t put their names in the paper. FUN FACT: The first campaign I worked on was Ronald Reagan’s as a member of the College Republicans at my University and my family’s name is Barlow and we’ve been in Idaho since the 1800s. 10 /
/ March 22, 2018
particularly when it comes to law enforcement. But I think everyone has an inherent right to defend themselves and their families. I don’t see that the Second Amendment right to defend yourself should be infringed in any way. So I’d say those are the two biggest issues. The other factor is I think I can be much more effective at bringing our voice to Boise, because we’re not heard outside the great state of Ada. When you get there, you need a seat at the table. For the last 10 years I went down there and worked for Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll during her session as a senator, so I’ve written legislation, gotten co-sponsors, helped pass it. I’ve worked on those relationships where you’re working with people down there or helping on their campaigns to get in. The best way to get something done down there is by consensus. … You need to be able to say, “I honor you for where you are, not where I expect you to be.” SR: What are the biggest issues you’ve been hearing from voters as you’ve been campaigning? DA: The Second Amendment. Illegal immigration. The economy is humming along really nicely, and it seems like most people who want a job have one. The educational system is still a concern — it’s not being funded adequately. That, to me, is a failure of the Legislature, because the according to the Idaho Constitution, we are supposed to be funding the education system. The fact that the schools have to go to their communities and beg on a continual basis, which causes in-fighting in a community, is inexcusable.
SR: On the subject of in-fighting, we’ve been seeing a lot of it in politics and in the political parties. It’s the same in this primary, where many view you as the conservative candidate and your opponent as the moderate candidate. Do you think that’s a fair way to look at the election, or does it over-simplify things? DA: I think the best way for
voters to pick a candidate is to talk to them and access them and say, “This is my opinion. What do you think about that?” They should also look at what they’ve done in the community. There’s a saying: “Your actions speak so loudly, I can’t hear what you’re saying.” Rhetoric is just that: rhetoric. And it’s usually empty.
SR: Legislators like our own Heather Scott have made waves pursuing what they call the Freedom Agenda. Some support this approach, while others feel it is too ideologically driven. What are your thoughts on this? DA: I admire anyone who stands up for their beliefs and values and principles. For how I will be, I will go in and represent my constituents, and I will stick to our founding documents because there are certain rules, processes and procedures you follow, particularly in the Senate. When I’m considering legislation, those are the first things I look at. SR: Where do you see the campaign itself? How are you making connections with voters?
DA: For me, it’s old-fashioned shoe leather. I’m out 8 in the morning to 8 at night at least five days a week. I make sure I go to each community, no matter what size. Anyone can call me. I’ll go out for coffee. I’ll be at their meetings, their events, wherever they want me to listen or speak. Again, I look at this as a job, and I’m applying for it with each person I meet. SR: What are your thoughts on local issues? For instance, the smelter proposed in Washington has everyone talking. Do you see that as being an issue the Idaho Legislature can address? DA: Per the Tenth Amendment and states’ rights, this is a smelter that is being built in Washington and going through that permitting process, which is actually stricter there than on a federal level. Since it’s being built there, we have very limited ability to affect it, if any at all. I talked to (the head of Idaho
Department of Environmental Quality), so he’s aware of it. (The head of the Coeur d’Alene DEQ office) is aware of it. Gov. Otter is aware of it. So it’s all being monitored. If and when that toxicity comes downwind … then we can get involved with DEQ. … The smelter has enormous hurdles to get through, but I’m still very concerned about it, particularly given the increased traffic coming in on our roads. We the taxpayers will bear the brunt of the cost.
SR: Given that North Idaho is sometimes overlooked in Boise, is there any particular issue you think the state should be doing more to address? DA: The roads. As far as Highway 95 and 2 go, you aren’t seeing the money get up here to repair our roads, and we have Canadian heavy trucks coming down hear and beating up our roads. So we really need to get more funding up here for our highway. The county roads are doing a great job.
SR: Let’s talk a bit about the political climate out there. Personally, I’m seeing less venom out there than I have in past election cycles, but it’s still out there. Do you think we’re getting better when it comes to discuss-
ing politics, or do we have a lot of work to do yet? DA: My number-one advice (for candidates) is that people are sick of the fighting and division. This is a job interview: You get your qualities out there and let them choose what they want. But this constant negativity does nothing. All it does is drive us further and further away from solutions.
SR: Is there any issue we haven’t yet covered that you want to highlight? Any particular message you want to get out to voters? DA: My message is (look at me) if you want an effective, experienced leader who you know is going to work very hard for you. I’m retired. This is what I do. It’s my hometown mission, my way of serving people. I feel it’s my duty. I love it. I enjoy it. And if you want someone to work hard for you, where this is their passion, elect me. I have served the public over the years from being in law enforcement, being the PTA director in many schools and being on the board of directors in many organizations. I do all that as a volunteer because I care.
ELECTION COVERAGE State Senator race District 1
Profile of Scott Herndon By Lyndsie Kiebert Reader Staff Editor’s Note: Scott Herndon is running as a Republican in the State Senate District 1 race. Sandpoint Reader: What is your background in North Idaho? Scott Herndon: I moved here from San Francisco, where I met my wife. The minute we started having children — we had our first in San Francisco — we wanted to get to somewhere rural. My brother bought land in the Selle Valley in 2004, and he said “Hey, you should go check out Sandpoint,” so I flew up here in March 2004 and in one weekend bought a piece of land. We bought a house in town in April 2004, and the land we’re currently living on in June 2004. I built our home, and I actually am a homebuilder now. We’ve been doing that for customers since about 2007. I had never built a home in my life until I built mine. I got all the books, watched some videos and learned how to do it. SR: What inspires you to run for office? SH: I have a lot of friends that are legislators, in this state and in other states. It’s almost like, “Why not?” In other words, if you’ve got strong ideas for government and you can present them well and you get along with people and you can work with people and try to navigate them toward some of your positions, and you actually care about some of their positions, then I think it’s a good idea to get involved — especially if you have the time or the inclination. SR: What are your top three issues? SH: My number-one issue is constitutional government, especially in relation to the federal
government. The federal government is supposed to be a lot smaller than it is, but it’s pretty much in every aspect of our lives. It’s very big in regards to the budget, and very big in regards to reach. A lot of states just implement federal policy — it’s almost like the states have become policy implementers of federal policy. It’s taken states that could be unique and made them all homogeneous. For people who have really strong political ideas about how a state should be run, there’s no state that best represents them because they’re all becoming the same. So, if you really liked a certain ideology and Washington had a better representation of it, it seems to me you ought to be able to move to Washington. Number two would be state sovereignty: the idea that the federal government was meant to serve a very limited role, and that the states were meant to serve everything else. The way to do that is states don’t go back to the federal government and ask permission for everything. They can simply just do it. I don’t think people understand that state sovereignty is an actual constitutional thing under the Tenth Amendment and that states can navigate their own way. My number-three issue in Idaho is the expense of Idaho government. Right now it’s growing. Our general fund expenditures, for example, grow at six to nine percent a year. The economy is only growing (at a) three-and-ahalf-percent (rate). It’s almost as if there is no overarching view of the growth of government, or people trying to restrain the growth of government to what can actually be supported by the economy. SR: If you’re elected, how will you aim to serve all your constituents, especially now, when it feels like we’re in a very polarized political situation? SH: What’s interesting is some people think of the left as very
different from the right. I’m a constitutional conservative, so I would get labeled way over on the right. However, what’s interesting — can I use your notepad here? — I think that most people view ideologies in government as a bell curve, where there’s a small group on the way left and a small group on the way right, and most people are in the middle. I view it like this. (Herndon draws a circle with two nearly connected ends, and labels one end the “left” and the other the “right”). We actually have a lot in common, those of us that are extremely passionate. For example, we all shop at the same organic foods stores and do yoga and care about CBD oil. I think the way to get along is to go ahead and find the topics we are right next to each other on. We have to respect each other at least for the fact that we’re willing to go out and say things about what we care about. You just have to influence each other politely over time. SR: A lot of people find your methods of persuasion when it comes to anti-abortion protests disturbing, and they’re concerned about where you decide to demonstrate. What do you have to say about that, especially now that it’s been happening for a while? SH: You know what’s funny is I’m hardly ever out doing stuff like that, but there is a group of people that does, and I totally support their right to do that. I’ve been out with them, and I think abortion is one of those things that is like human slavery, in that it’s a human rights violation, so it’s a civil rights question. I hope it’s one of those things in the future that we look back and we realize how repugnant the notion was. The abolitionists of slavery were very disruptive because they were trying to upset the whole economy, and a whole way of life. Unfortunately, when you’re trying to change some of the really big ideas, it disrupts a whole culture.
It’s upsetting to people because it threatens their whole worldview. Abortion is something I care very much about, but it’s not my number-one issue because I don’t think we’re going to overturn and abolish abortion right away until we get other ideas in place.
Scott Herndon AT A GLANCE AGE: 50 BIRTHPLACE AND RESIDENCE: Born in
SR: What else do you want people to know about you?
Richmond, Va. Moved to S. Division in Sandpoint in 2004 and to 15 acres on Otts basin in Sagle in 2006.
SH: We have a lot of ideologies in District 1. A lot of people wonder how I’ll represent the whole district, and the reality is that I don’t think a legislator can perfectly represent a whole district because they’re bound by their oath to uphold the constitution. If, say, the whole district wanted something that wasn’t constitutional, then the legislator is going to have to hold the line. But a good legislator would explain to the district why they can’t do x, y or z. I will represent everyone in the district, and I’ll have an open phone. I would say there are people around here that would be surprised that I would take some of their ideas very seriously and introduce them to the Legislature.
GOVERNMENT SERVICE: Worked for the USFS in college as a firefighter. Then worked for UC Berkeley and the Los Angeles County Office of Education for a total of four years as a computer programming contractor implementing Peoplesoft Financial Systems.
PROFESSION: Previously accounting and finance and 10 years as a computer programmer. He has been a home builder in residential construction in Bonner and Boundary County as Scott Herndon Homes for 11 years.
EDUCATION: BS in Finance from Arizona State University, 1989.
FAMILY: Married to his wife, Arlene, for 20 years. They have eight children together ranging in age from 4 to 21.
FUN FACT: At Arizona State University, Herndon was president of the Skydiving Club and accumulated 492 jumps while in college, including over 8 hours of freefall. March 22, 2018 /
ELECTION COVERAGE District 1 State Representative, seat A
Profile of Bob Vickaryous
By Ben Olson Reader Staff Editor’s Note: Bob Vickaryous is running as a Democrat in the primary election for State Representatives, Seat A. Sandpoint Reader: Tell me a little about your history in North Idaho. Bob Vickaryous: I was born in Creston, B.C. My folks were both U.S. citizens, but it was the closest hospital. I had some farming blood in me, and I’m interested in being independent. I have an independent nature. I never really liked having somebody look over my shoulder. I logged for about 30 years, logged and farmed at same time. SR: What inspired you to run? BV: There is a need for some pro-liberty minded people in the state legislature. And if I get nomination I’d like to be one of those, to help make decisions on the con-con (constitutional convention). I believe it’s a very, very bad thing to have one at this point in time. If we need to amend the Constitution, we can do it the traditional way it’s been done the past 200 years. We don’t have to open it up to having the whole thing rewritten like happened last time. Not enough people realize that, and I’d like to be part of that discussion, and do what I can to help derail it. SR: What specifically about the constitutional convention is it that concerns you? Are you concerned it would be opened up to dramatic change? BV: Yeah, in fact, that’s what some proponents are promoting and hope
Bob Vickaryous AT A GLANCE AGE: 71 BIRTHPLACE AND RESIDENCE: Born in Creston, B.C., lives 1.5 miles south of Canadian border. GOVERNMENT SERVICE: Served on school board in 1990s. Six years in U.S. Army (two active, four reserve). PROFESSION: Small time cattle rancher cow, calf operation. EDUCATION: Public high school. FAMILY: Married to spouse since 1993. FUN FACT: Bob has been interested in politics since 1966. He spent 13 months on the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea when he was stationed there in the Army. 10 /
/ April 5, 2018
happens. That’s a reason they want a convention. They want the whole thing scrapped and completely rewritten. If it was completely rewritten by the majority of those involved, it would probably look an awful lot like the constitution of the Soviet Union. People are granted rights, and then the right is negated by the government, which has the ability to regulate the right, which makes it not a right at all. That concerns me. I want to see the country remain free, I don’t want to see a socialist dictatorship. SR: When you ran in the 2016 primary as a Democrat, it came up often where many said your views were quite conservative. I’m curious why you’re running again as a Democrat as opposed to a Republican or other. BV: I feel that the identity of Democratic party has been stolen. Traditionally, from the beginning, the Democratic party was very conservative, pro-Constitution, pro-freedom, all the way until about the 1920s and ‘30s when the socialists, who used to have their own candidate running for president every year, decided they could make a lot more progress by simply taking over Democratic party and running their candidates pretending to be Democrats when they were actually socialists. I think that needs to be reversed, and I’d like to help reverse it. SR: Let’s talk about your association with the John Birch Society (JBS). Generally, the JBS is known as an anti-communist, limited-government society. Why are you a proponent of this group? BV: I haven’t been as active in the JBS, especially in Sandpoint, as I’d like to be. You’ve done a little homework, it sounds like. I have been a member since 1972, and I strongly believe in an informed electorate. The only way that we’re ever going to get the country on the right track again is to have an electorate that understands the basic concept of freedom. The Democratic party was founded on those basic principles, same as the JBS. It’s nothing new. I’m not trying to reinvent freedom, we’re just trying to keep it. SR: If you were to identify three of your main issues, what would those be and why? BV: The con-con issue is one, we already talked about that. I strongly believe in free enterprise in health care and free enterprise in education. SR: Define “free enterprise.” What exactly does that entail for health care and education? BV: If you had free enterprise in
education, you would have the people making their own decisions regarding those topics. That’s where it needs to be. When you get the government involved in anything, it denies the people the right to make their own decisions regarding health care and education. I believe that competition always produces excellence, so if you want excellence in health care or education or anything else, you have to let the free market work. You have to let the people decide. SR: You have been an opponent of public education in the past. At one point in the 1990s, you wrote a letter to the editor that asked, “Do we even need public schools anymore, and if we do, how do we pay for it? I don’t think we need them.” Do you seek to abolish the public education system? BV: I would rather it abolish itself and let the people get tax credits that want to educate their kids at home or in private schools or wherever. They shouldn’t have to pay for both. That would stimulate the private sector. People don’t realize how much education is costing them, how much it’s costing them to get misinformation, or disinformation. It’s very costly to have erroneous information. I could talk a while about all of these things. … The problem is, whenever you have government involved in things like education, you come up with indoctrination instead of education. We don’t need indoctrinated Hitler-type youth. We need people who understand the concept of freedom. SR: So you think the neither the state nor the federal government should be funding education at all? BV: I don’t think our government should be involved at all. In fact there’s nowhere in the Constitution where it’s allowed for the federal government to be involved. SR: Don’t you think that might leave some people out in the cold, without access to an education? BV: No, I don’t think so at all. I’m not a computer nut, but kids are brought up to understand computers and they can find information in a heartbeat while us older folks who haven’t been well-schooled in computers have a disadvantage. The technology is there to get a good education online, and kids know how to use a computer. Schools have neglected teaching the kids to read and write cursive. I just found that out when I hired a young lad to do a website for me. I wrote out everything I wanted on the website, and he was stumped because he couldn’t read cursive. Reading and writing should be taught, as well as
how to type. SR: I’m curious. You say that a good education is available on the internet, but with a system like the one you’re proposing, who is going to be generating this content on the internet? BV: I think people really believe in education in Idaho, and it’s not compulsory that they send kids to public schools but people do it because they believe the kids are getting a good education. They’re being fooled. They believe in education. If they understood what was out there as an alternative there would be more people getting their kids educated at home. The JBS does have an online course called Freedom Project Academy. For anyone who wants a good, solid education, that would be a good place to start. If they don’t like the concept of freedom and want socialism, they could start their own socialistic schools, or just keep sending their kids to public school. SR: You’ve talked a lot about socialism. Is that a concern of yours? That we are becoming a socialist country? BV: Yeah, it has been my concern for quite a while. When you look at what Karl Marx wrote, as far as a prerequisite for a socialist, communistic society, one of the things you absolutely have to have is the government controlling the way people think. They do that by controlling education. That’s why he put that in there. A free government education for everybody. He knew what it would do. And also you have to have an income tax to finance all the government programs, you have to have a centralized banking system, inheritance tax. Those are all planks of the communist manifesto, and they’re all in place in America. SR: You believe we should abolish income tax? How would we replace that? How would we fund things like the military, social programs, roads? BV: Well, road funding is already in place, it’s called a fuel tax. That’s where the money comes from to build roads. I believe in a user fee tax. I’d really like to see, if there’s not enough road tax to build a bypass in Bonners, I’d like to see a toll bridge put in, or a toll bypass, so that truckers don’t add to traffic congestion. I think people would opt to pay an extra dollar or two to bypass Bonners Ferry just like they bypass Sandpoint. SR: This is a pretty divisive time in our history. If elected, how will you reach any common ground with your
( No Photograph Submitted ) constituents, or are you catering to one political ideology over another? BV: Well, if you call being for freedom favoring an ideology, I’d be happy to spend more time getting people to understand the concept of freedom. It doesn’t seem like they do. If people want free goodies all through their life, they’ll end up totally controlled and without freedom. It’s up to the people to make a choice. I don’t think that people fully understand the concept of freedom. SR: Is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to end with? BV: We didn’t talk about gun-free school zones. I think that we should have a gun in every classroom and a well-qualified teacher to use it if necessary. It’s these gun-free school zones, you may have noticed, where the idiots go to take out their frustration or whatever they’re doing, to shoot innocent people. They don’t go to a police station. If they knew that there was a loaded gun waiting for them in a classroom, they would probably think twice. If we can trust the teachers with the minds they use, we should be able to trust them with the responsibility to protect them with a gun. SR: I’m curious where the funding would come from to pay for this. You’ve already called for an end for government funds in education. Who pays for these guns? BV: If they can’t find enough money in the budget, I’m sure the NRA would probably take up a collection — or the John Birch Society, either one — to make sure there’s enough money to buy a gun. If they can bus kids all over the state for a basketball game, I’m sure they could find enough money to buy a $150 weapon.
ELECTION COVERAGE District 1 State Representative, seat A
Profile of Ellen Weissman
By Cameron Rasmusson Reader Staff
Editor’s Note: Ellen Weissman is running as a Democrat in the primary election for District 1 State Representative, Seat A. Sandpoint Reader: To begin with, can you tell us a little about why you decided to enter this race? Ellen Weissman: I’ve always been interested in politics. And I thought that at some point I would run for something. When the Florida shooting happened, that pushed me closer. Much closer. ... I’ve several times thought about running for county commissioner, but that position for my district isn’t up this year. Then I found out that the seat (in the Idaho Legislature) currently held by Heather Scott is available, so I decided to put my name in. SR: What are some of the issues that have driven you to get involved in politics? EW: I’m concerned about the Rock Creek Mine and think it shouldn’t go through. It’s the same with the smelter issue. You have threats from both the east and the west. And there are plenty of other issues that affect the quality of the environment and the life that we have here, which is why we chose to move here: to have clean air, clean water. I’m also concerned about education dollars. Idaho is at the bottom of the list for quality of education and teacher pay. We need to improve that. Then there’s the need to have a voice for North Idaho, because I think there are a lot of decisions being made without North Idaho being considered.
SR: What personal qualities to you bring that you think would make you an effective representative? EW: I was raised right outside Washington, D.C., so I didn’t get local news — I got D.C. news. Dinner table subjects were … about what’s going on in our nation and world. I sat in the chambers of Congress and was influenced by seeing government in action. They were all white men at the time … and we were memorizing the presidents, so I asked my teacher why there were no women presidents. So I think that’s when my (political) beginnings happened. Ever since then, I’ve been in arenas that involved public relations. I was a teacher and developed listening skills. I’ve worked with people of all ages, from infants to elders now. And I think I can represent people’s viewpoints … and adequately reflect the full spectrum of opinions. We have a diverse place—perhaps not racially, but a diverse collection of viewpoints. I think I can listen well and then take those opinions down to Boise. SR: Tell us a little about your work as director of Sandpoint Area Seniors, Inc., and how that might influence your work in Boise if elected. EW: Being a senior is not something people think about until it’s smack dab in their face. When thinking about what’s good for seniors, it’s often something that’s good for everyone, like wheelchair access. Awareness on those kind of things has grown, but there’s always more to do. Also, as director of the senior center, I’m in kind of a neutral position politically. I’m advocating for everyone, and there are no divisions between
Democrats and Republicans. It’s about getting adequate care for someone who is dealing with Alzheimer’s. It’s about helping someone who is a veteran get services they need. So we’re an information and referral hub, and we are constantly letting people know what activities and services are around town. Elders have taught me a lot. Some are in their 90s and still active, so I want to go to Boise and say, “Look, people are living longer.” Ten thousand people a day are turning 65 in our country for the next 19 years. We have to think about how to take care of our elders. SR: You mentioned the Florida shooting as another motivating issue. What should the state being looking at when it comes to gun violence? EW: I understand people who want to have guns for hunting or for protection, and I can accept that. But I cannot accept someone who could have gotten treatment for mental health issues and didn’t getting a hold of machine guns and killing kids. Or killing people at a movie theater or grocery store or shooting Gabby Giffords while she’s doing public speaking. These things that are occurring in our country are absurd and crazy. And I think we have to realize that enough is enough. We have to have sensible legislation. I don’t think it’s a question of taking away the Second Amendment. … But there needs to be better regulation over selling and tracking and using weapons. SR: Your opponent in the primary certainly doesn’t have viewpoints one would expect of a Democratic candidate. Do you have any thoughts on that? EW: I have not yet met
Mr. Vickaryous. I am told that he is very arch-conservative and has jumped over from the Republican side to running on the Democratic ticket. I think that as much as I don’t like the two-party system, it’s in place so people who align themselves on one side or the other will stay on that side. So I’m curious to meet him and find out more about his viewpoints. We have a variety of Republican politicians like Shaun Keough who have done an awesome job, so I’m not crazy about the D or the R at the end of people’s names. But … if you’re way over on the other side, why are you running as a Democrat? SR: Thanks for talking with us, Ellen. In closing, is there any issue you want to comment on or message you want to get out to voters that we might not have covered? EW: I’m concerned about Scotchman Peaks as well. I really hope that can be deemed a wilderness area. We are losing public lands right and left in our country. And as a former teach-
er, I really care about kids. It’s not just wanting them to be safe either, but all people. We need to be concerned about domestic violence. I want people to learn parenting skills and communication skills.
Ellen Weissman AT A GLANCE AGE: 64 (My 65th birthday is the day of the primary!) BIRTHPLACE AND RESIDENCE: Washington, D.C. GOVERNMENT SERVICE: None PROFESSION: Teaching in the past. I’ve been the Executive Director of Sandpoint Area Seniors, Inc. (“SASi”) aka the Senior and DayBreak Centers the last 3 1/2 years. EDUCATION: B.S. in Elementary and Special Education; M.Ed in Educational Administration and Community Education; M.Ed in Arts Integration in Education and Curriculum Development. FAMILY: Divorced with two grown daughters. FUN FACT: I love to juggle and I have jumped in the Polar Bear Plunge 14 times in the last 20 years! April 5, 2018 /
ELECTION COVERAGE District 1 State Representative, seat A
Profile of Heather Scott
By Lyndsie Kiebert Reader Staff Editor’s Note: Rep. Heather Scott is running for the Republican nomination for the District 1 State Representative Seat A, a seat she currently holds. Sandpoint Reader: Tell me a little about how you ended up living in Idaho. What first brought you here? Heather Scott: My husband and I moved here 20 years ago for a natural resource-related job. We like the rural, self-reliant lifestyle, the can-do attitude of the people who live here, and the beautiful countryside. SR: After two terms in office, how would you say you’ve helped Idaho move in what you see as the right direction? HS: I have kept my promises on the platform I ran on: government accountability (I have been a strong advocate for the three branches of Idaho government to follow our state and federal constitutions); and more transparency in government (I have worked hard to educate and engage citizens on the importance of their involvement in government through meetings, mailers, townhalls, websites, etc.). I represent two counties in Idaho, and I believe the values I fight to protect line up well with the values of the majority of people in my district: limited, bottom-up government, strong local and state sovereignty over heavy-handed federal encroachment and exposure of crony capitalism. I am pleased that my efforts to
Heather Scott AT A GLANCE AGE: Almost 50! BIRTHPLACE AND RESIDENCE: Born in Ohio, residence in Blanchard, Idaho. GOVERNMENT SERVICE: State Representative, Idaho House of Representatives. PROFESSION: Aquatic Biologist. EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science in Biology. FAMILY: Andrew Scott, husband. FUN FACT: I love to snorkel and scuba dive. 10 /
/ March 29, 2018
strengthen Second Amendment rights, which Idahoans strongly support, have resulted in securing permitless carry as well as this year’s special concealed-carry permits for retired law enforcement officers in K-12 schools and on college campuses. I have also set up a successful website to help citizens track legislative bills and see how they could affect their lives. SR: There’s no doubt that there’s been a couple controversies while you’ve been working in the legislature, one of which briefly limited your legislative privileges. What was it like coming back from that? Do you look back with any regret, or do you stand by your comments that female lawmakers need to “spread their legs” to get ahead in the Idaho legislature? HS: Every legislator experiences “controversies” because their lives, their statements and actions are under ongoing public scrutiny, and they are not perfect. Most legislative decisions are made in either debate-style situations or in public or both. Add to that the circus of the media who uses these opportunities to embellish, promote agendas or continually repeat issues in an effort to sell publications, often with facts overlooked and substance lacking. As a legislator, choosing to stand for the truth is going to come with some bruises. This year has been a great productive legislative growth year for me. I know I will continue to be a target as long as I expose crony capitalism and government corruption when I see it. That’s OK, because I work for the people, not the establishment or lobbyists. SR: Your website features a “myths” tab, where you debunk things people have said about you. One myth you have listed is that you are “unpopular in the Republican party and can’t get anything accomplished.” To debunk that myth you have several awards listed. Why do you think that myth exists in the first place? HS: Myths are generated by individuals, organizations and some media who fear the truth, fear transparency, fear losing control over elected officials and/or want to silence the message and the messenger in pursuit of their own agendas. The best repudiation of the particular myth you mention comes from the
awards I have received over the past three years. • 2015 Liberty Legislator of the Year, Republican Liberty Caucus • American Legion Certificate of Appreciation for supporting John Arnold (Veteran whose guns were going to be confiscated) • The American Conservative Union Foundation, Conservative Excellence • 2017 Defender of Freedom Award, Idaho Freedom Project. • I have the highest four-year-average liberty score of all 105 legislators when it comes to voting for the constitution and limited government. • And several other awards and recognitions. I feel blessed and humbled to have received them as a validation of my efforts and my unwavering commitment to serving the people of Idaho and standing up for liberty and the constitution. SR: Some people see you as associated with the Redoubt movement. Would you consider that accurate? Why or why not? HS: I try not to put people in boxes or label them. I look at people as individuals rather than the collective. I would love to know the Reader’s definition of the “Redoubt Movement.” If it means standing for and supporting individual freedoms over collective freedoms, limited government over bloated government and advocating for common sense and responsibility over an entitlement mentality, then you can label it whatever you choose, because those are the people to whom I relate well and vice versa. SR: If elected to a third term, what are the top three issues you will be focusing on? HS: • Ensuring District 1 residents have a seat and a voice at the table when decisions are being made about the Hi-Test smelter. • Ensuring District 1 is properly represented and defended in the pending water adjudication process for Bonner and Boundary Counties. • Pursuing more transparency in government and working to reduce regulations and taxation through the legislative process. Boise appears to have better roads, nicer schools and better connections when it comes to state grants and opportunities. North Idahoans pay just as much in taxes and deserve the same benefits.
SR: Recently you sponsored a bill that would force school districts to wait a year after a failed bond issue before running another one. Some opponents of this bill claim it may do harm to school districts, especially those facing potential emergencies such as a collapsed roof or fire. Others claim it limits local control over this issue. With Idaho already ranking near the bottom in the nation for school spending, is this bill intended to further weaken public education in Idaho? Why? HS: First, to clarify, the legislation is for any taxing district, not just schools. The number of taxpayers who have come to legislators asking for relief from the relentless serial levy and bond voting is huge. It is straining an already over-taxed public. This bill would not eliminate or put a ceiling on levy funds that taxing districts can ask for; however, it will put the burden on the taxing districts to do their homework and provide factual, transparent information to voters and prioritize a taxing district’s needs. I and other legislators believe that in the long run it will build better, more positive and open relationships between taxing districts, taxpayers and communities. It will also put pressure on legislators to find real solutions to funding public schools as required by our Constitution instead of saddling the already overburdened taxpayer with levies. My bill passed the House Committee and the House floor vote, showing that its merits are recognized, but has been held by a committee chairman in the Senate, which is typical establishment behavior and diminishes citizen voices.
SR: This is very much a divided time in America. For your part, how will you help heal the division if elected? Will you serve all of your constituents equally? HS: Locally, an issue that has the potential for uniting North Idaho is the proposed silicon smelter. I believe most North Idahoans want to protect our way of life and the environment we call home while bringing jobs to our area. “A divided time in America,” to use your term, is not unique to our time. Unfortunately, certain media sources want Americans to believe that, but we are seeing evidence that people aren’t as divided as the media touts. With the election of President Trump and the incredible, positive impact he has had on our economy and reducing the federal government’s overreach, many Americans are gaining hope for a brighter future. This easing of anxieties at the national level is now allowing Americans to focus on, and get involved with, government at the state and local level, and I welcome that. I look forward to a new Idaho governor and the promises that will bring in 2019. With Idaho now the fastest growing state in the Union – something I believe is due to not only to the beauty of our state but our culture of self-sufficiency and can-do spirit – we have many issues to tackle to keep the strong rural and rugged flavor of Idaho intact while embracing cultural and social changes sure to come with the influx of new residents. I am confident that I and other legislators who value freedom, individual rights and protecting families will always find common ground with those we represent.
ELECTION COVERAGE District 1 State Representative, seat A
Profile of Mike Boeck
By Ben Olson Reader Staff Editor’s Note: Mike Boeck is running as a Republican for District 1 House of Representatives Seat A. Reader: Tell me a little about your history in North Idaho. How long have you been here? Mike Boeck: I was born and raised here, fourth generation. My great grandparents were some of the original founders. I know my great grandmother was one of the founders of the First Presbyterian Church here in town. My great grandpa, he was a millright, taxidermist, carpenter and jack of all trades. So yeah, I’ve got some pretty deep roots here. I attended all public schools here, attended University of Idaho and got my degree in forestry, mainly in the engineering side of forest products. … I served in Idaho National Guard, retired after 20 years as a combat engineer. So I’ve got some pretty good practical experience as well in that field and it really relates back to transportation issues - roads and bridges. SR: Speaking of transportation, that’s one of the top issues on your platform. Why is transportation important for North Idaho? MB: Like I said, it comes a little from my education background in engineering and military, how important it is to maintain good transportation and infrastructure. As a mill manager in Priest River, we saw that highway between Sandpoint and Priest River as a death trap. Over the course of the years, I was able to work with companies like LP and the state of Idaho to get that road, like dead man’s curve taken care of. … We worked to get that highway rebuilt. But one of the biggest challenges was getting that bridge over Priest River to our mill done. … It’s so important to this district that we keep the focus on that. One thing I’ve learned on this campaign is that infrastructure is more than highways and bridges. It’s high-speed internet, it’s the ability to communicate from some of our rural areas in cellular. It’s access to natural gas. ... As we encourage new business in this area, particularly in the aerospace industry, just a tremendous opportunity here to bring in good high paying jobs in a very clean industry, but they need that kind of infrastructure. SR: Idaho was recently named the fastest growing state in the nation. How do we manage this growth responsibly? MB: Well, I’d like to see it the way
it was in the ‘50s, but that isn’t going to happen. People are going to come here whether we like it or not. Quite frankly, you get two different groups that come here: the ones who really embrace what we have here, then you get the ones who want to really change everything. But we cannot afford not to keep up with growth, and it has to be good responsible growth. Schools in particular. We need to keep up with our educational stuff, and workforce development is one huge part of this package. Career technical education is so important. We need technical welders and stuff like that in the aerospace sector. … I’ve been on Idaho Forest Products commission for over 20 years now and our mission is to provide the public with the knowledge of how we best manage our natural resources, our forests. That doesn’t mean we’re going to go in and clear cut everything, but we’ve seen our national forest deteriorate immensely over the last several years, from insects, and disease and fire. So there’s lots of things to do to improve upon that. SR: Let’s talk about your opponent, Heather Scott. It seems she has spent a lot of her time in office focusing on ideological issues. Do you agree with how she has served this district in her past terms? MB: Well, just to set the record straight, I’m not running against Heather Scott. I’m running for what I feel is a better future for this district. I know I can do a better job working with the legislature getting some of these problems solved that we need solved. A lot of the stuff she pushes are federal issues. That’s all well and good. I’m not against pushing back against federal overreach by any means. I’ve done it all my career. But I think we have to know what the role is of a good legislator. Going around the district and talking to supporters, I feel that I can do a much better job to represent those views. I’ve always been considered a pretty strong conservative, but by today’s standards, I guess I might be pretty moderate. SR: Are you dedicated to serving all of your constituents, no matter what their political leanings? MB: That’s the definition of a representative, right? If I get elected, I’m elected to serve all the constituents of this district. Not just a very narrow view. That doesn’t mean I agree with them, that doesn’t mean I will always vote the way they would like me to vote, but I will certainly listen to them. I’m not going to do anything that’s going to embarrass them.
SR: Politics has always been contentious, but it has ramped up in the past couple years. How will you handle this divisiveness? How do you bridge the gap? MB: I’ve been working to do that even though I’m not an elected position right now. On different issues. Scotchman Peak for one, the smelter for another. I’ve got ideas that I think can help bridge some of discord on that stuff. All this hysteria and a lot of misinformation that goes around. I’m not one to jump on the bandwagon without knowing all the facts. In my career, speaking of the smelter, I’ve dealt with the EPA in regulating emissions on our burner boiler system. We were able to solve those problems installing electrostatic precipitators and other things that really improved air quality and environment in the area. I think siting is a problem with that. It could be sited different, where it’s not in such a critical air shed, even though emissions might not be as bad as some claim, it would be better sited closer to the dam, closer to airsheds that don’t impact the population as much. Those kind of industries produce the products for solar panels, so how do you get there unless you have industry that creates it? Those are hard issues. Like I’ve told some folks, if it’s half as bad as some of the critics say is, I’m totally against it. But I want to know that for sure, and I want to know if there’s a better way to approach this thing. SR: Let’s talk about some other issues. How about the second rail bridge that BNSF is proposing over Lake Pend Oreille? MB: Railroads have a lot of power within the federal system, but you have to look at the reality. That’s still one of the safest modes of transportation we have by far. That bridge has been there for over 100 years, to this point we haven’t had an accident. Doesn’t mean one won’t happen. But by improving the infrastructure with a second bridge, we could reduce the odds of that happening. I sat in on the presentation that was made on how we deal with something like that. Emergency response stuff. I think there’s a real effort to improve on that. I would encourage that as a state legislator. These waters are really precious to us here and I really, really think we need to do everything we can to maintain the quality of our water. SR: What about the proposed Scotchman Peaks wilderness designation. Your opponent is a big supporter of the state of Idaho taking
over federal land. Where do you fall on this issue? That’s kind of right up my alley, this kind of stuff. It’s not as important who owns the land, it’s how it’s managed for the benefit of our district and our state. We’re faced with a huge percentage of land that is state or federal, primarily federal. When they don’t manage them for the benefit for the people, people get upset. There’s been a lot of work, here and up in Boundary County, I’m seeing really good progress with tribes, state, federal government on how do we best manage these lands. That’s the direction we need to go. On the Scotchman area, I think there’s some room for compromise. … I have no problem with them having a special place like that, but there are areas along the west side and south side that really have got a lot of people upset. There’s old logging areas, why you’d want to include those areas in a wilderness, I don’t understand. At one point that wilderness line went right down middle of Lightning Creek Road. You could move it back a mile and the folks who want the wilderness wouldn’t know the difference frankly. … That’s one of the ways we could bridge some of this division here. SR: Do you have anything we haven’t touched on that you’d like to talk about today? MB: School funding, I’ll tell you, that right now is under fire. If you look at what my opponent proposed recently about the bonding levy proposals. It’s funny, instead of looking at how we can solve these problems, it just exasperates the problem. Why do we need to do that? Personally I think that super majority is onerous, but I also believe the elections should be held when more of the public can participate in voting on levies, they want to roll that back to one a year. Her group also wants to eliminate all federal funding of education in Idaho. Well, that kind of stuff is just devastating to the ability to maintain our schools in these rural areas. Why she would do that, I have no idea. There are a lot of folks, for some reason, that are dead set against supporting our public education system. Believe me, that’s snot where I stand. We have some of the most fantastic natural resources as anywhere in the nation, and if we can’t support our infrastructure and education then shame on us. But to go after the voters and make it so difficult to actually gain the kind of financial support we
need for our rural schools, I don’t think that’s the direction we want to go, and I think I can make a big difference. I have some ideas on how we can relieve some of the property tax issues on levies and bonds, but it has to do with how we manage and develop our resource base in this state. … Bottom line, when things go sideways, that’s where I get more involved. We’ve got some really good responsible folks from our party that have served, and I want to be counted in that group.
Mike Boeck AT A GLANCE
AGE: 68 BIRTHPLACE AND RESIDENCE: Sandpoint. Currently lives in Wrenco. GOVERNMENT SERVICE: Wrenco committeeman for 20+ years, Sen. Keough’s first campaign manager, Phil Batt’s county chairman when he was elected Gov., 20 years in Idaho Nat. Guard (retied Major), Over 20 years commissioner District 1 Idaho Forest Products Commission. Served on Ready Fit Working Group. PROFESSION: Professional forester and resource manager. Managed number of mills in 40-plus years, not only in human production side, also natural resource side to manage land, timber, protect water. EDUCATION: B.S. Forestry, U. of Idaho. SHS grad. Certificates from NIC in log scaling. FAMILY: Dee (wife), kids Justin, Alyssa. Three grandkids. FUN FACT: Mike is a rabid instrument builder. He participated the last three years at Lional Hampton Music Festival. He’s built two mandolins, three violins, two guitars and a stand-up bass. He participates in the slow jam session at the Heartwood Center. He’s also a hunter, fisherman and likes to dirt bike. Finally, he has his private pilot’s license. March 29, 2018 /
Gubernatorial and Legislative contested races