Incumbent Rep. Julianne Young faces Donavan Harrington in District 31 Seat B
BLACKFOOT — Incumbent Rep. Julianne Young, R-Blackfoot, is hoping to be reelected to the Idaho House of Representatives, but Blackfoot Republican Donavan Harrington wants to take over the District 31 Seat B position.
Both are competing in the May 19 Republican primary. To learn more about the candidate’s platform, EastIdahoNews.com sent the same seven questions to each Legislative candidate. Their responses, listed below, were required to be 250 words or less.
Tell us about yourself. Please include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any prior experience in public office.
Harrington: Born in Grand Forks North Dakota. The second of eight children to Howard and Beverly Harrington and moved to Ammon in 1962 when dad was transferred to Idaho Falls for Lockwood Graders as a sales/general manager.
Graduated from Bonneville District 93 class of 1971. While serving a mission to Ohio and West Virginia the family would move to Rockford, west of Blackfoot. I have been in Bingham County since 1974. In 1978, I was blessed to married Jackie Merritt and after 42 years together, we continue to enjoy life. Raising three boys and one daughter, we were able to educate them in the Blackfoot school district.
Engaged in AYSO soccer as a coach than a referee and Grid Kid Football took most of the summer months. Scouting and working with youth has been my passion for many years. Educated at ISU Vo-Tech as a diesel mechanic, I would work alongside my father’s John Deere Dealership in Blackfoot for 16 years serving as his service manager.
In 1990, I left my dad and headed into the bus transportation business. Since March 1990, Jackie & I have continued to work together to grow our business. I have had the opportunity to serve this county as a Bingham Commissioner. I served the Southeastern Idaho Public Health as a board member and as it chairman. I also served the state of Idaho as the state chairman of the Local Boards of Health and represented Idaho on the National Association of Local Boards of Health.
Young: I’m an Idaho state representative, a wife and mother, an educator, a gardener and hobby farmer, an avid researcher and writer, an editorial columnist and a committed and passionate American who’s not afraid to do hard things. A sixth-generation Idahoan, I grew up in Moreland, Idaho, as the daughter of Dr. Richard and Kerma Hill. My parents taught me to work hard, carefully analyze information and ideas, pursue my dreams with a passion and fearlessly stand up for truth.
I graduated from Snake River High School where I excelled in debate, drama, and music and served as the Snake River mascot. I attended Ricks College and graduated from Idaho State University with a Bachelor’s degree in education. While at Ricks College, I met and married Kevin Young, a Blackfoot High School graduate, and son of Kenneth and Evelyn Young.
We have 10 children and make our home in the Groveland area where we own a small hobby farm that includes Jersey cows, a colorful flock of chickens, a siamese cat, an Australian shepherd named ‘Lady’ and a geothermal greenhouse. Our family loves to work hard, play hard, hike and camp, make beautiful music and participate in dramatic productions. We are people of faith with a strong tradition of service in our church and community.
What are your proudest accomplishments in your personal life or career?
Young: My family is, by far, my proudest accomplishment. I met my husband, Kevin, at a ballroom dancing competition nearly 30 years ago. I was thrilled when he later invited me to be ‘Forever Young’. We have created a strong family (8 sons and 2 daughters) that knows how to work together, laugh together, cry together and grow together.
After completing our college degrees Kevin and I settled down in Blackfoot where we designed and built our home. Our oldest son has a Bachelor’s degree in nursing and works at Huntsman Cancer Center in Salt Lake City. We look forward to his wedding in a few months! We have two children in college, one serving a mission for our church in Florida and others with many adventures in the making.
When life is said and done, my family will be my most prized possession and my most important success.
Harrington: I would have to say my children and my grandkids are perhaps the biggest accomplishments. Jackie and I continue to work with our children in business ventures and enjoy spending time outdoors with our family and friends.
From a business perspective, we started out at Teton Stage Lines as a general manager in March of 1990, and in December of 1994 purchased the four bus operation from Boyd and Helen Ashcraft. Today we have over 42 units under various contracts to six different charter and traditional school districts.
Our school bus transportation operations reach from Rigby in the north to Pocatello in the south. We also provide support activity bussing to many of the large school districts here in eastern Idaho.
Providing support, with our over the road coaches, to the airlines that sometimes are not able to land in Jackson Hole to hauling high-end fishermen and women who have come to enjoy our many fishing lodges here in eastern Idaho are all a part of the services we offer with our fleet of school buses, road coaches, SUV and Cadillac Sedans.
Briefly explain your political platform and/or legislative goals if you are elected to office.
Harrington: I would hope to be a voice for all of Bingham County and not be one who looks to the Idaho Freedom Foundation for direction and purpose before I vote. I would rather be the legislature who is one that looks to, listens to and is concerned about those who elected me to the office in the first place.
I feel that this next legislative session will be filled with the need to balance the state budgets. With this downturn in the local economy, due in part to the stay at home orders, we will have to take a serious look at wants verse needs and move the balanced budget to a point that all of Idahoans can live with. There will need to be some very hard decisions to be made this coming January.
Young: Two years ago I was honored to be elected to serve as a state representative for District 31. It has been an incredible experience. I am a pro-family, pro-life legislator who has consistently advocated for moral principles, limited constitutional government, fiscal conservatism, and the unalienable rights of Idahoans, including our first and second amendment rights.
I have proactively worked to advocate for Idaho families, including initiating the creation of an effective state-wide pro-family coalition which successfully advanced a full docket of pro-family legislation in 2020. Strong families are the most important answer to many of the social, educational and economic issues we face. The family is the fundamental unit of society.
I support common-sense educational policy that empowers teachers and puts the needs of students first. I have also made the needs of our agricultural community a top priority, including understanding and addressing water rights issues, earning a 100% score from Farm Bureau and the Idaho Water Users Association, and an Ag All-Star from the Food Producers Association.
I am an avid student of the principles of freedom contained in our founding documents and the stories, writing and philosophy of those who have shaped America. I love the United States Constitution and believe that it is the answer to many of the problems we struggle with. When I raise my arm to the square and take an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Idaho State Constitution and United States Constitutions, I understand and honor that oath.
What are the greatest challenges facing your district?
Young: Recovering from the effects of COVID-19 may prove to be one of the most difficult challenges we have faced in many years. Many individuals and businesses have experienced significant setbacks and markets have been severely disrupted. Thankfully, I live in a strong community with a tradition of service and I am confident that we will rise to the challenge.
Harrington: Of course, we have a lot of farming and ranching here in eastern Idaho. I would like to think that I could be a voice for our farming & ranching community. Helping our youth graduate high school and continuing on to either a trade school or some sort of secondary education is a concern as well. Once that education is complete there is the need for good-paying jobs. We have two very large manufacturing facilities here in Blackfoot and they continue to struggle for skilled trade’s men and women. It would, of course, be good to partner with our neighbor the INL. Bingham County is full of opportunities, we just need to help promote them.
How will you best represent the views of your constituents — even those with differing political views?
Harrington: I have a listening ear. I do not go into this job as one who has all of the answers. But I do enter it as one who in willing to learn and to listen to what the electorate are saying. While serving as a Bingham County commissioner I learned firsthand that local government is the best government. Boise cannot hope to apply a one size fits all and expect it to work in all situations.
Young: As a state representative, I have been a resource to constituents who have had questions or needed help irrespective of their political views.
Someone who disagrees with you, politically, on one issue at one time may turn out to be an ally on another issue at another time. While some issues tend to be partisan, others, like those we frequently handle on the Judiciary and Rules committee are not as likely to be partisan. I have seen the benefit of being fair and level headed on issues by disagreeing without being accusatory or disagreeable.
While I should always advocate for the constitutional rights of every constituent, I should not and cannot advocate for the political views of every constituent. We have elections so that the people of the district can choose, by majority vote, an individual who will best represent the district collectively. Once elected, based on a particular platform, constituents should expect that this representative will keep the promises they made while campaigning for the office.
What is your philosophy on dealing with special interest groups and/or lobbyists?
Young: Every person, or group of people, has a constitutional right to advocate for their interests and express opinions. When advocacy for a special interest is the purpose of the group, the group may be a valuable source of information and expertise, as long as their natural bias is taken into consideration. However, lobbyist dollars should never be used to ‘purchase’ a political outcome, nor should taxpayer dollars be used to advocate for or against policy.
Harrington: This has been my most challenging point to date. I have taken a lot of heat for not filling out third party surveys and forms. The NRA, the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance, the IEA, the Idaho Republican Party and others have asked for positions statements and for the filling out of their surveys so as to post to their base, the position a legislator has taken, even before he or she takes the oath of office. I do not want to be one who is conflicted once I enter office.
Part of the legislative process is to debate and learn if a bill is something that is needed or not. Why would I want to paint myself into some corner before I even have the chance to learn and have to answer to? I wish to state my positions and then allow the electorate decide if I am the right person for the job or not. Some third-party lobbyist are stating now that I must have something to hide by not filling out their special forms. I will not bow to this kind of behavior.
What are your views regarding the role of the media in covering Idaho’s political landscape?
Harrington: Media can be used to help spread a message of hope or one of fear. Media needs to remain neutral in all that it does. Researching and the telling of a story are more important today than ever before. So often today we have been put upon by false narratives or at best misleading stories in order to spread hate and or fear.
Even today in this elections cycle there are voices out there who spread hate and fear because a candidate did not fill out their specific survey. There are voices that challenge the stay at home order of our governor and even encourage challenging the order that is in place. While I may not agree with this order, I would not be the one encouraging social discord. Media can sometimes add fuel to that fire simply by the way they are presenting the story or narrative.
Young: Freedom of speech and of the press are fundamental American rights which should be safeguarded and preserved.