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East Idaho Elects: Three candidates vying for vacated House Seat 29B in the primary

East Idaho Elects

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POCATELLO — With his decision to run for the Idaho Senate, James Ruchti leaves a vacancy in House Seat 29B for which a trio of candidates are competing.

RELATED | Local representative seeking seat on Idaho senate

Jake Stevens and Greg Romriell will meet in the Republican primary, with the winner to face the Ruchti-endorsed Democrat Nate Roberts in the general election.

District 29 comprises most of Bannock County.

EastIdahoNews.com sent the same eight questions to each candidate and received responses from Stevens alone. His answers, available below, were required to be 250 words or less.

The primary election is on May 17. The general election is on November 8.

Tell us about yourself — include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any prior experience in public office.

STEVENS: I have been married to my wife Jordan for just over six years and we have two sons, ages five and three.

I received my bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from ISU in 2016. I am currently in the last semester of my MBA program with an emphasis in Information Technology Management.

I am a Sr. Systems Analyst for a crop science company in Southeast Idaho. My job entails designing, building, maintaining, and securing industrial grade data networks in manufacturing and mining environments.

Although my educational background is in IT and cybersecurity, I am fortunate to spend a lot of time working outdoors on some of my projects.

Additionally, I’ve had the pleasure of serving in the United States Army Reserve for almost 6 years now. I am a Warrant Officer specializing in tactical network management (255N).

*Jake Stevens is a member of the Army Reserve. Use of his military rank, job titles, and photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement by the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense.

What are your proudest accomplishments in your personal life or career?

STEVENS: I am first and foremost proud of my family and my role as a husband and father. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I have had to work in a field and for organizations that I enjoy and that have afforded me the ability to provide a living for my family. I am proud to be a member of the United States Army Warrant Officer Corps.

Why are you a member of the Republican/Democrat/other party? Briefly explain your political platform.

STEVENS: I am running as a Republican. The Republican party stands for limited government, fiscal responsibility, and individual liberty. Many Republicans do not govern according to these principles unfortunately, but I believe strongly in sticking to these ideals as outlined in the United States Constitution and the Constitution of Idaho.

What are the greatest challenges facing Idahoans?

STEVENS: Outrageous taxation (property tax, income tax, grocery tax) and unnecessary/excessive government spending. Federal overreach and consistent growth in the size and scope of government. Radical indoctrination in schools to include radical gender theory, divisive rhetoric with regard to race, and inappropriate sexual content.

How will you best represent the views of your constituents – even those with differing political views?

STEVENS: Taxes are too high for everyone, regardless of political views. The state of Idaho, as well as many counties and municipalities, could operate and perform the legitimate functions of government with a fraction of the revenue they are currently taking from hard-working taxpayers.

I will advocate for dramatic reduction in taxes and elimination of the grocery tax and property taxes. I will fight to protect the rights of everyone to operate their businesses and hold jobs without the fear of forced shutdowns or mandates.

I will work to protect the rights of parents to be involved in their children’s education decisions.

What role do lobbying entities play in the decision-making of Idaho legislators?

STEVENS: The majority of lobbyist entities represent the interests of large corporations, not the people of Idaho. There are some that deserve to be consulted regarding bills that fall into their area of expertise. For example, bills that have to do with water rights and farming may justify input from organizations who represent the farmers. However, when consulting with any lobbyist it is important to keep in mind that the purpose in doing so is to understand the implications of legislation to the people of Idaho, not that of special interests.

How can you encourage compromise, debate and a bipartisan approach to introducing new legislation in Idaho?

STEVENS: Many Democrats in Idaho claim to support property tax reform. I am personally of the opinion that property taxes should be eliminated entirely in the State of Idaho.

If Idaho government was reduced to only its necessary and legitimate functions it would be possible to pay for the costs of government with the current state sales tax. I am open to hearing other bipartisan ideas for property tax reform regardless of what side of the aisle they come from.

What parts of Idaho government could benefit from additional state funding? What part of Idaho government could be improved with financial cutbacks?

STEVENS: There is no part of Idaho government that needs additional funding. Some will argue that education isn’t “properly funded.”

Idaho spends around $8,000 per kid per year for public school. I send my kids to private school that includes before and after school childcare plus it’s all year round, smaller class sizes, and has far better performance than government schools. I pay less than $6,000 per year per kid. The problem isn’t funding, it is fiscal irresponsibility.

Nearly every government entity could be improved by reducing waste and inefficiency to reduce costs.

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