Republicans Pickett, Voigt running to replace Scott Bedke in Seat 27A
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TWIN FALLS — As incumbent and current Speaker of the House Rep. Scott Bedke sets his sights on the lieutenant governor position, a pair of Republicans have emerged as candidates to fill his seat.
Douglas Pickett, from Oakley, and Carl Voigt, from Burley, will face off in the primary election, with the winner to be unchallenged in the general election.
EastIdahoNews.com sent the same eight questions to both candidates. Their answers 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.
VOIGT: I am currently a junior high school teacher at Burley Junior High. I have been an educator for the past 21 years, including 6 years as an administrator.
I am married with four children, three are adults and one 10-year-old, my wife is also a high school teacher. We have lived south of Burley for the past 16 years.
I received a Bachelors of Science in Sociology from Boise State University in 1999, a Masters of Education from University of Idaho in 2006, and an Education Specialist Degree from the University of Idaho in 2010. I have coached school sports for my entire career. Currently, I serve as the Athletic Director for my school, and coach wrestling. I also coach the high school golf team for Oakley High School. I have not served in public office before.
PICKETT: I am a native of Oakley, ID, where my two brothers and I own and operate Pickett Ranch, a multi-generation ag business founded in 1882 producing natural beef, range-fed lamb, potatoes and livestock feed.
I am a graduate of Brigham Young University in Economics. I served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Germany shortly after the fall of the Berlin wall.
My wife Brady and I live in Oakley where we have raised our three sons. I have served on several civic and government boards including Oakley Valley Water Company, Cassia County Farm Bureau, and Oakley Valley Cemetery District. I have also served as the chairman of the Cassia County Federal Lands Advisory Group and on the Governor’s Bighorn/Domestic Sheep Taskforce. I have served in the Republican Party for 22 years, including the past eight years as Cassia County Chairman.
What are your proudest accomplishments in your personal life or career?
VOIGT: I was the first member of my immediate family to earn a Masters degree. I served for a brief time in the Navy Reserve during which I earned the Navy/Marine Achievement Medal.
My greatest accomplishment has been the blessing of having a family, raising four awesome kids, and traveling to 49 of the 50 states with my family, still have Alaska to get to.
PICKETT: My proudest accomplishments in my personal life are simply being married to my wife for 29 years, and my three sons.
Why are you a member of the Republican/Democrat/other party? Briefly explain your political platform.
VOIGT: I have always been a conservative when it comes to my political views, even growing up in northern California. I am registered as a Republican in Idaho and have been since moving here in 1993.
My political platform is fairly simple: there are a few things I feel need to be addressed in our political system. First is campaign spending, I am running a $0 zero dollar campaign, I will not ask for nor accept any campaign contributions, I believe we need to reform how we elect politicians. We spend too much money for offices that do not pay that much.
I believe in term limits for every elected office, the only way we can encourage new people to get directly involved in the political system is to make it possible for them to run, when a new person attempts to run against an incumbent they do not have a fighting chance.
Education is another area we need to make some changes. For my entire career politicians have been telling me how I should fix school, time for me to return the favor.
PICKETT: I am a Republican because I believe the Republican Party platform espouses the values most likely to preserve and defend our Republic. I believe in limited government, individual responsibility, private property, 2nd amendment rights, the right to life, parental primacy in kids lives, state sovereignty, free enterprise, and freedom of religion.
What are the greatest challenges facing Idahoans?
VOIGT: Water, growth, inflation, education.
PICKETT: I believe some of the greatest challenges facing Idahoans are government influence in our private lives, sustainable growth, management of our water and natural resources, and loss of state sovereignty by the increasing overreach of federal policies and funding.
How will you best represent the views of your constituents – even those with differing political views?
VOIGT: The key to me is that you must represent all citizens, not just the ones who voted for you, or gave money to you, but all of them. You need to be open-minded and really consider every decision you make and how it will affect the people you represent, and then make the best choice you can, realizing that with every decision there are some who think it is great and others who will hate you for it.
PICKETT: I seek to understand differing points of view.
Having served a mission in Germany during the influx of refugees from eastern-bloc countries as well as from African nations opened my mind to the varying ideologies and backgrounds of people from all walks of life. It also solidified by belief in the core values found in our Constitution and other founding documents.
What role do lobbying entities play in the decision-making of Idaho legislators?
VOIGT: They play a huge role, they should NOT!
Lobbying is a part of our political system, and in many cases it can benefit the people represented, but too often it has an over-influence on the decision made. In today’s political realm the way some organizations try to and do influence the decisions being made is just unacceptable, and even toxic. This needs to be changed.
PICKETT: Lobbying entities represent their constituents providing research and educational materials to legislators regarding the impacts of proposed legislation and policies. They are a tool in the process, but they are not the decision makers.
How can you encourage compromise, debate and a bipartisan approach to introducing new legislation in Idaho?
VOIGT: Stop making it left or right, democrat or republican. Start making it about what is best for the most people possible, and more importantly make it about integrity and not how big the check is.
PICKETT: I am a Republican and therefore partisan by definition. However, I believe that ideas are what should be debated and argued, not personalities. There are good people with good ideas, and there are also a lot of good people with very bad ideas. I believe in the legislative process, including dignified debate and compromise, so long as the outcome does not compromise the principles I believe in.
What parts of Idaho government could benefit from additional state funding? What part of Idaho government could be improved with financial cutbacks?
VOIGT: Budget questions are the worst. Spending more money does not guarantee improvement, privatization does not always save money and make things better.
I believe there are ways to make improvements to areas of government that could save money and reduce taxes, however we also need to protect the public when using their money. Common sense is often not very common in government these days, it needs to be.
PICKETT: Our state is growing at an unprecedented rate. Our infrastructure must be funded to accommodate this growth, including transportation and responsible and accountable education. I am concerned about the increasing percentage of state funding towards health and welfare issues. I believe that the trajectory of health and welfare spending over the past ten years is not sustainable.