Democrat Chris Abernathy and Republican Dustin Manwaring race for State Legislative seat
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POCATELLO — Democrat Chris Abernathy and Republican Dustin Manwaring are running for the position of State Representative House Seat A in Idaho’s Legislative District 29.
Abernathy currently holds the seat and is running for reelection. Manwaring held the position in the term before Abernathy, from 2016-2018.
To learn more about the candidate’s platform, EastIdahoNews.com sent the same eight questions to each candidate. Their unedited responses, listed below, were required to be 250 words or less.
1) Tell us about yourself — include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any prior experience in public office.
Abernathy: I was born and raised in Pocatello. All of my family is still here in Idaho. I have been the IBEW for 25 years.
Manwaring: I was raised in Blackfoot and graduated from Blackfoot High School. I earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Utah and a Juris Doctor from Drake University School of Law. I practice law in Pocatello, assisting clients primarily in business and estate planning. I am the Vice President of Lillian Vallely School, Inc., a private 501(c)(3) serving Native American children, and I am the Tax and Commerce subcommittee chair of the Pocatello Chamber of Commerce Legislative Council. I have been married to my wife, Whitney, for four years and we have a two-year-old boy. We are active in our church and community. I previously served in the Idaho House of Representatives from 2016-2018.
2) What are your proudest accomplishments in your personal life or career?
Manwaring: Being able to obtain a post-secondary education and return to Idaho to launch my career and start my own business is something I am very proud of accomplishing. This year marks the 10th anniversary of my law practice and it brings great satisfaction thinking about all of the relationships built and people that I’ve been able to interact with and serve in my business and during my prior term as a citizen legislator.
Abernathy: Having an amazing daughter that has exceeded in her education.
3) Why are you a member of the Republican/Democrat/Independent/Other party? Briefly explain your political platform.
Abernathy: I come from a long line of union relatives. My platform is education, public lands and health care.
Manwaring: The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln and Reagan. I believe our party stands for liberty, equality, and family values. I believe the strength of our nation lies with our faith in God, the individual, and the family; and that each person’s dignity, freedom, ability, and responsibility must be honored. I believe the United States is unlike any other country on earth, the United States Constitution is the greatest and most inspired document to govern a nation and is the best guarantor of freedom in history. I believe in equal rights, equal justice, and equal opportunity for all. I believe human life begins at conception and is protected by unalienable rights endowed by our Creator. I approach decisions by using independent observation and research, contribute ideas through critical thinking, and take action by leading through relationships and effort built on trust. My platform includes protecting family values and religious liberty, preserving our environment and Idaho lands and water resources, and promoting business opportunity and next generation technologies.
4) What are the greatest challenges facing Idahoans?
Manwaring: While Idaho is blessed with so much to praise, we also have our challenges. As we continue to grow at a fast pace, we are challenged with investing enough resources in education, infrastructure, expanding broadband access, and preserving our natural resources and agriculture opportunities for future generations. We can get through these challenges and others with careful planning and prudent, conservative decision making. In the near term, we must continue to face the challenge of COVID-19 and our reaction to it and balance public health without creating unnecessary fear or limiting individual freedom of choice. We must not compromise or use a pandemic as an excuse for failure to educate our children or to establish and maintain a general, uniform, and thorough system of public, free common schools as the Idaho Constitution requires.
Abernathy: Property taxes.
5) How is your party’s ideology better suited to dealing with these unique challenges than those of your competitor?
Abernathy: I really don’t like the word competitor in politics. Everyone has an opinion and key to it all is trying to compromise.
Manwaring: I believe Republican values make it the best vehicle for translating dignity, freedom, and individual responsibility into positive and successful principles of government and to address Idaho’s greatest needs. Saving and investing are conservative principals and will keep Idaho in a position to weather future recessions and economic challenges as we did in 2009 and again this year during the unpredictability of COVID-19. Republicans believe we must keep Idaho small businesses open and that we can prosper even during difficult times if keep government limited, stay fiscally responsible, and prioritize family values and individual responsibility.
6) How will you best represent the views of your constituents – even those with differing political views?
Manwaring: Pocatello is a diverse city with historic roots as a railroad, trade center and transportation junction, with Idaho State University, ON Semiconductor, Amy’s Kitchen, the FBI and many other manufacturing and skilled professions and small businesses. A good representative of this
community will recognize there are many competing ideological and political views. I will listen
and gather facts from all sides before making decisions that best represent all constituents, and my
record proves I am committed to doing the right thing even when it’s not politically popular.
Abernathy: You should listen to your constituents in your district no matter what party they are from.
7) How can you encourage compromise, debate and a bipartisan approach to
introducing new legislation in Idaho?
Abernathy: First you have to have a conversation.
Manwaring: If I am elected, District 29 will have one Republican and two Democratic legislators. This will provide us with an opportunity and responsibility to be an example for the rest of the state. If we can work together as a local group of legislators on bipartisan legislation, it will be a bright example of compromise and serving for the greater public good.
8) What parts of Idaho government could benefit from additional state funding? What part of Idaho government could be improved with financial cutbacks?
Manwaring: While we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into education over the last several years, there is still more we can do to provide excellent education and increased student achievement. Every dollar invested in early childhood development, including reading, math and science, will return great dividends for Idaho. Every child should have broadband access, tailored mentoring from cradle to career, and inherit a state that is cleaner, safer, and filled with more opportunity to live in and raise the next generation of Idaho families. We should invest more in physical and mental health, and substance abuse programs. Idaho could benefit from investing more in transportation infrastructure and finding a permanent way to increase stable transportation funding. Sustainable management and support for the advancement and development of energy resources, like nuclear and hydro, will help us meet the growing needs of Idaho. We must also continue to work on criminal justice reform and reducing the costs of imprisonment, along with reducing regulations and barriers so that health care is accessible and affordable.
Abernathy: Education and infrastructure. And cutbacks would have to be really thought about.