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Two challenging incumbent Jim Guthrie in District 28 Senate primary race

East Idaho Elects

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POCATELLO — If Jim Guthrie is to earn his sixth term in District 28 of the Idaho Senate he must first hold it against a pair of primary challengers.

Fellow Republicans Tom Branson and Art Da Rosa will meet Guthrie in the primary, with the winner earning the right to take on independent Mike Saville in the general election.

District 28 includes all of Franklin and Power counties, and parts of Bannock County.

EastIdahoNews.com sent the same eight questions to each candidate. Responses from the three Republican candidates below were required to be 250 words or less.

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

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

GUTHRIE: I was born in Pocatello and have lived in the Marsh Valley area within a 15 mile radius my entire life.

I have two sons, one daughter and nine grandchildren all of whom I am extremely proud of. I was raised on a farm and still farm and ranch in the Marsh Valley area where I raise beef cattle and hay.

I am fortunate to have great parents who taught me the value of hard work that has served me well throughout my life. While building up my farm and ranch operation, I worked for many years in construction and heavy industry. I worked for several years as a union journeyman carpenter and for over a decade at Ash Grove Cement in Inkom.

I have been in the Idaho Senate for 10 years and prior to that served 2 years in the house, 6 years as a Bannock County Commissioner and 6 years on the Marsh Valley school board. I have spent time as a youth coach, and served on numerous boards including the Portneuf Medical Center board of trustees.

BRANSON: Married to a hard working Idaho farm girl … for over 33 years. She is the greatest blessing in my life and has anchored our family with a solid foundation in scriptural teachings.

We own a small farm in Preston. I grew up in Finland … and living in Socialist Europe has given me a healthy dislike to things that are currently destroying our country. United States of America is the greatest country and place to live, and we want to keep it that way!

Attended Ricks College for two years and graduated from Utah State University with a degree in Finance. Owned a mortgage company licensed in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. After a lengthy career in mortgage finance, we sold the company and transitioned to financial consulting … which led to some government and military work in Europe.

Aviation has been a strong part of our lives and I became a licensed pilot in early years of life. Served in the military.

DA ROSA: I am a husband, father and grandfather. At a young age, I lived through the Cultural Revolution (a large‐scale communist‐sponsored riot). Even at a young age, I learned that I wanted to be free.

I adopted the United States of America when I obtained citizenship in 1986.

I graduated from BYU with a degree in civil engineering, and later with a Master of Public Administration from Fresno State. I learned dedication, loyalty and faithfulness while serving a mission. Living under freedom, I flourished as a citizen, a human and an engineer. I proved myself to be an exceptional leader by turning around demoralized public works departments. I also proved myself to be ingenuitive by introducing new construction techniques.

For the last three years, I have been volunteering my time by teaching a classes on the Constitution in Pocatello. The recent nationwide adoption of poor morals and societal division has prompted me to run for the Idaho State Senate.

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

GUTHRIE: I have been blessed with an amazing family who all live close. They are the greatest source of joy in my life. The activities I do with them, the times I need their help and the times they need mine are something I treasure. Being able to work and play together and continually build that support system in invaluable.

I designed and built my own home and I am proud of the fact I have worked hard and have been able to persevere through challenges that life has sent my way. I have always felt that success is more about how you respond when you’re struggling than it is about how you act when everything is smooth sailing.

I am proud of the fact I have been able to enjoy my passion of being involved in agriculture and at the same time being involved in public service.

BRANSON: Family

DA ROSA: I would like to cite two examples. I turned around a demoralized Public Works Department. They submitted a Letter of Confidence to the City Council on my behalf.

Second, I introduced the concept of Full‐Depth‐Reclamation to California. A new construction technique that is very cost‐effective when compared to traditional construction methods.

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

GUTHRIE: I am a Republican but wasn’t always.

Early in life I mostly voted for Democrat candidates but it was during President Ronald Regan’s administration that my political philosophy shifted. During that eight-year period I realized that the conservative platform touted by republicans best aligned with my own beliefs. But there is work to do.

We are in the throes of troubling political times particularly on the national level but we are seeing some of that political unrest here in Idaho. We are at a critical juncture where this primary election could put in place the schematic for how policy effecting Idaho citizens is crafted and implemented for years to come.

I believe government should only do for people what they can’t do for themselves and I believe to the largest extent possible in local control. I believe I am a common-sense conservative and recognize some government is necessary for a healthy functioning society. I am a strong advocate and defender of the private sector but without some structure we would be in a constant state of chaos. There is a balance and I have worked hard over the years to determine when something should be in the public or private sector column.

BRANSON: We need to secure our freedoms as established by the Constitution, and therefore I support the true conservative platform of the Republican Party … unfortunately, as a country and a state – we are drifting further and further to the leftist ideology that does not line up with the Constitutional principles.

DA ROSA: I am a registered Republican. I am particularly proud of the Idaho GOP Platform. I believe in it. Regarding my platform, I am not able to explain my entire platform here. In my campaign flyer, I pledged that I will:
Honor the Constitution
Limit Taxes & Control Spending
Reduce Waste and Bureaucracies
Support School Choice
Protect our Shared Values

What are the greatest challenges facing Idahoans?

GUTHRIE: My one word answer is growth.

For many years the political battle cry has been we need to bring more jobs and people to Idaho. We offer huge tax incentives for business and industry to come here. In my opinion that is a narrative and approach that needs to be re-crafted.

We have seen record growth here in Idaho and many tout that as a good thing. I will agree that some growth is advantageous but explosive growth can be very problematic. For example, Boise, Idaho Falls and Pocatello have all made a national list of the most overvalued homes in the nation. Homes are selling after only a few hours on the market for above asking price and values have doubled, in some case more.

Our children and even many middle-aged citizens cannot afford housing. Finding a piece of property that has acreage is next to impossible unless you can afford to overpay. The growth cycle we are in has put incredible pressure on Idaho’s water and the continuing drought conditions have prompted water curtailment in some cases. We need to get back to a more methodical growth trajectory and make sure those coming in pay their fair share. In short let’s not sell Idaho short by giving away the farm at the risk of losing our farms.

BRANSON: See number 3.

DA ROSA: I believe that facing the political establishment is my greatest challenge.

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

GUTHRIE: During the session I am on several zoom calls during the week as I interact with different groups and individuals. We also communicate via email and phone.

In the interim, I am involved in the community and attend various meeting throughout the year and engage with citizens, businesses, and local elected officials. Even though we have differing political perspectives at times, I actually work well with the Democrats in Boise. I also have a different take on issues at times with my republican colleagues but work through those differences respectfully.

I think we would live in a sad world if everyone always agreed on everything. I believe what has afforded me success as an elected official is having the courage to challenge things and not just always take the easy vote. Opinion diversity can be a powerful and productive thing and lead to the best outcomes for our state.

BRANSON: The answer to this question is found in number 3. Differing political views are always welcome and needs to be discussed and respectfully debated … but, Constitutional principles are not to be compromised. As the years go by, and we keep compromising more and more … we end up in the mess the country is in. So, what has compromising Constitutional principles done?

DA ROSA: I am a Constitution teacher. Recently, we completed the Federalist Papers. James Madison explained it well in Federalists 56 and 57 on the best way to represent my constituents. If I were elected, I will swear an oath to uphold the Constitution, both State and Federal. That is, any requests presented to me will need to be filtered through the lens of Constitutional compliance.

Additionally, I will visit each County that I represent on a monthly and rotation basis to provide accountability to my constituents and to receive input from them.

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

GUTHRIE: I actually think that lobbying plays an important role in government.

For example, if I talk to one person I may find his or her perspective extremely valuable but might wonder if it resonates to the masses. If a group that represents tens of thousands of people has a point person that speaks about the policy desires of that group it can be pretty powerful. That is particularly true if those policy preferences were developed through a grass roots effort.

When I talk to a representative of the teachers group or the food producers I know there is broad based support or opposition from the education or agriculture industry respectively. I don’t always vote accordingly but the education about the issue from their vantage point in invaluable.

BRANSON: I would invite the reader to visit: Branson4Idaho.com

There, I explain the lobbyist question…

DA ROSA: Lobbying activities are legal. That said, any requests presented to me will be filtered through the lens of Constitutional compliance.

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

GUTHRIE: One thing I have found is that I might think something is a great idea and begin working on a legislative solution. I will get a draft together either on my own or with feedback from others. Then I will share the draft with parties I believe could be impacted by a statute change. That puts everything out in the open for discussion before the idea is pushed forward.

I have had great discussion as I hear concerns, decide on changes that are needed, or dismiss the idea altogether. The interaction and education for both sides is beneficial not just for the issue at hand but as we build relationships and trust going forward.

I also look for opportunities where I can co-sponsor legislation with a democrat colleague. I remind myself that regardless of political affiliation we are all there to represent our constituents and make the best decisions possible to move our state forward in a positive direction. The media sometimes exploits political differences but most of the time common ground among political counterparts is an important element in our public service capacity.

BRANSON: There is a place for compromise and debate … most marriages probably would not last if there wasn’t compromise! But – why would we compromise our God-given principles of the Constitution? I have friends from many different churches, and they all recognize the hand of God in our Constitution. So, good legislation that addresses issues and problems of Idahoans – is always needed for consideration and respectful debate. We just need to be respectful of others and their freedom to chose.

DA ROSA: I will bring an attitude of cooperation and discussion. That is, I am not afraid to fight, but I would prefer to work things out through dialogues. There will be conservative legislators elected, and I plan to work with them to further the cause of freedom. Additionally, I want to say that I do not believe in trading votes.

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

GUTHRIE: The last couple years have been a bit of an anomaly due to the large amount of money that has come into our state coffers directly or to our citizens and businesses due to the coronavirus. That has resulted in a nearly 2 billion dollar surplus in the state.

That has allowed for record tax relief, significant investments in education and road and bridge infrastructure and a myriad of other areas that saw significant increases. That said, I will answer the question absent the coronavirus anomaly.

Because of the extremely high number of school districts that see the need to pass supplemental levies I think education will remain at or near the top of the priority list for future funding consideration. The good news is that with the extra money some great things happened for education this year. We passed legislation that will now allow teachers to join the state health insurance plan, gave significant raises to teachers and funded the option for all-day kindergarten.

As for cutbacks, it’s probably not any one thing that stands out but more the need to seek efficiencies in many areas of government. If I were to pick one area that is of great concern it would be the ever-expanding budget of the department of health and welfare. In terms of seeking efficiencies that is where the most bang for the buck could be potentially realized.

BRANSON: State of Idaho can be more self-sufficient by eliminating or reducing Federal dependence. Idaho is rich in resources and unfortunately well over 60% of our lands are controlled by the Federal Government, which in itself is Unconstitutional. So, I am not the political candidate to give you conservative “bullet points” to make people feel comfy. We need to take a hard and honest look at real solutions that will help Idahoans to have a prosperous life – and enjoy this great state! George Washington told us: “It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.” Let’s remember what made this country great.

Editor’s note: The above quote attributed to George Washington is listed as a “Spurious Quotation” misattributed to Washington, according to the Mount Vernon Library.

DA ROSA: I believe this question is asking how abundant bureaucracies exist. A lot!

The public administrators are a part of the government. Through good intentions, they have added unnecessary rules, guidelines, common practices standards, etc. that benefitted them, but not the general public.

I believe any discussions on funding changes (especially funding increases) will need to first have an evaluation of the efficiencies of government agencies.

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