Ron Nate (left) Britt Raybould (right) | Courtesy photos
REXBURG — Incumbent Rep. Britt Raybould, R-Rexburg is seeking reelection to the Idaho House of Representatives District 34 Seat B. She is being challenged by former representative Ron Nate of Rexburg.
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.
More information on Raybould can be found on her website and Facebook page.
More information on Nate can be found on his website and Facebook page.
Tell us about yourself — include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any prior experience in public office.
Raybould:I’m blessed to work with and live near my family. Our family farm takes up a good chunk of time through my work as our CFO. I spend my days balancing the books, lending a hand when needed, and making sure we’re taking care of our employees. I know what it means to have people depend on you, and I make every effort not to let them down.
In addition to managing the farm with my dad and brother, I also run the consulting business I started in 2007. I focus on strategy and marketing for small business owners, and I love supporting other dedicated entrepreneurs who dream big and work even harder.
For the last ten years, I’ve served on the Board of Directors for the National Potato Council (NPC), a grower-based trade group that advocates improving national ag policy. In 2020, I’m serving a one-year term as president.
During college, I worked as an intern in Gov. Kempthorne’s office, and I’ve served as the Madison County Youth Committeeperson since 2015. From 2016-2018, I also served as secretary for the Region 7 Republicans. Since 2018, I’ve represented the folks in District 34 in the Idaho House.
After graduating from Sugar-Salem High School, I graduated from Boise State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a Technical Communications Emphasis. In 2003, I graduated from Westminster College with a Master of Professional Communication.
Nate: I am a pro-life, pro-gun, Constitutional conservative republican. I was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah and graduated with a B.S. in Economics from the University of Utah. I married Maria Olsen (Idaho Falls) and attended graduate school at the University of Connecticut earning an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Economics. I specialized in Public Economics, Economics of Poverty, and Economics of Education.
I began as an Assistant Professor at Ohio University-Eastern, and in 2001 joined the economics faculty at BYU-Idaho. My wife and I live in Rexburg and have four children (ages 16, 19, 21, and 23) and are active community members.
I’ve had a variety of odd jobs to help get me through school including stacking hay, staging onions, video arcade attendant, tire changer, dance club DJ, pontoon boat operator, upholstery delivery guy, auto parts warehouse specialist, and t-shirt design/printing. Excellent professional training, principled leadership, family values, and a wide variety of experience, all combine to make me a well-rounded candidate for Representative in District 34.
Relevant experience includes:
I served in the Idaho Legislature 2014-2018 and served on the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, Environment Energy and Technology Committee, and Judiciary Rules and Administration Committee.
Idaho Judicial Council 2007-2013
Madison County Republican Youth Committee Chair 2004-2006
Madison County Republican Committee Chair 2006-2010
Idaho GOP Rules Committee Chair 2008-2012
Idaho Republican Presidential Caucus State Chair 2012
Delegate to Republican National Convention 2008, 2016
Senior Fellow at Madison Liberty Institute, 2018-Present
What are your proudest accomplishments in your personal life or career?
Raybould: Starting my business ranks among my proudest moments. After working in corporate marketing for seven years, I took the leap, and so many amazing things have happened as a result. I’ve had the opportunity to work with clients around the world. It also opened the door to spending more time on the family farm and taking on the role of CFO.
My expanded role on the farm created the chance for me to join the National Potato Council, and ten years later, I’m serving as the first female president of a nationally respected ag group. We’ve accomplished great things as an organization, helping one of Idaho’s trademark industries and supporting many of our local business owners.
Finally, winning my first election two years ago definitely ranks in the top three. It was a hard-fought campaign based on my desire to serve the community and give something back after all the blessings I’ve received. It’s an honor to represent the place where I grew up and know so many of the people.
Nate: By far, I am most happy as a husband and father. We have a wonderful family who love spending time together, traveling, hiking, playing games, working together, and enjoying our pets (two cats and a dog named Waffle). They are the reason I work hard at my job, and why I am running for office to help keep Idaho the great state it is while seeing if I can help make it even better.
Briefly explain your political platform, and/or legislative goals if you are elected to office.
Raybould: My platform is simple: I support policies that best serve the interests of District 34 and the people I represent. I care about improving our schools, both K-12 and higher ed, because parents want a good education for their kids and our businesses need smart and capable graduates. I care about supporting our local businesses by reducing regulation and creating a healthy environment, so they thrive. Local businesses are fundamental to our success as a community and a state. I care about making the services we expect from government work better and more efficiently.
In the upcoming term, I plan to focus on getting Idaho’s economy back on track. I want to look at ways to increase exports for Idaho products, support local initiatives that revitalize hometown businesses, and lower regulatory burdens that could hinder companies’ efforts to navigate our current situation. I also want to find a resolution to the issues around property tax. We need to consider new ways to address assessments and budgets. We also need to explore options that include new development paying for itself.
Nate: I support the principles of faith, family, freedom, and protecting our Constitutional rights. I am an economics professor and a career-long educator, and all my kids have been fortunate to enjoy great public schooling in the Madison School District, so I have an abiding interest in Idaho education. We can and should pay teachers well, provide freedom for districts and parents to choose the best education possible, and help all Idaho students achieve excellence in education.
My immediate goals for the next legislative session are threefold: 1. Make sure Idaho transitions back to a full-production and full-service economy as safely and as quickly as possible. 2. Provide immediate tax relief for Idaho families by repealing the sales tax on groceries and reducing property tax burdens at the local level. 3. Restore full control of Idaho education to Idaho decision-makers by eliminating Common Core as a mandate, ending SBAC testing requirements, and reducing our dependence on federal funding (and the accompanying federal rules). By getting rid of unfunded mandates and freeing Idaho education, we will be able to pay teachers more and have full resources for all Idaho schools.
I have a proven track record, of not only passing legislation to help Idahoans be freer (protecting unborn babies, protecting gun rights, reducing regulation, etc.), but also stopping bad legislation from hurting Idahoans. I have fought against tax increases, identified wasteful spending, and stopped unconstitutional regulations.
What are the greatest challenges facing your district?
Raybould: The consequences of COVID-19 are the most significant challenge now. But we keep seeing neighbors step up and lend a hand, and I know it will be the priority during the next legislative sessions.
Beyond our current situation, we’re experiencing both the burdens and benefits of growth. As I noted in the previous question, property taxes are front and center, but there’s also the issue of accommodating the growth in our schools and community.
Infrastructure remains a key concern, too, including safe access to Highway 20 through Rexburg and Idaho Falls. As more traffic pulls people into our communities, we need to ensure that we have systems in place to move that traffic safely from Point A to Point B.
There’s also concern about our kids having the opportunity to stay in the community and find good-paying jobs that will support a family. We need to make sure we’ve created an environment supportive of business, both so that people can find jobs and start their own companies.
Nate: The foremost challenge facing District 34 is returning to a fully productive economy without putting lives at too much risk. Prior to February 2020, our economy was among the best in the country, but like everywhere else, the Covid Virus and the shutdown has hurt many businesses, families, and workers. As a Ph.D. economist, I have the expertise to help guide Idaho through challenging economic times. I have a proven record of providing excellent analysis of policy options and voting the right way on complicated issues. Now, more than ever, Idaho needs competent people in office to help Idaho free up the economy and return to the prosperity we were enjoying just a few months ago.
How will you best represent the views of your constituents – even those with differing political views?
Rayboul:I’m always willing to have a conversation. Even the folks who’ve disagreed with me during my first term will probably admit I’m still willing to listen and hear their thoughts on the issues. That’s the only way to ensure I’m representing the people in the District. I need to hear from people on both sides of an issue.
Beyond that, I try to make myself as available as possible. During the 2019 term, I was able to participate in three town halls during the legislative session, and we were on track for something similar in 2020 before social distancing became necessary.
I’ve also provided regular email updates and shared information via social media, to make myself available through several channels. Of course, there’s also the usual emails and phone calls, too. I’m able to do a better job the more I hear from people in the community, regardless of whether we agree.
Nate: As a Representative for District 34, I successfully worked with constituents to get the laws changed on many important issues including the ability to do electrical work on your own home, keeping property rights for short term rentals, lower regulations on family businesses, and transparency in government bond elections. In four years in office, there was not a single missed vote. I showed up, did the work and was responsive to constituent concerns. I responded to every phone call (hundreds), replied to every email (thousands), and sent a weekly legislative update to over 3,600 subscribers.
A true representative is more than merely a lawmaker. The job entails being an educator, an analyst, an agent for those who need assistance in dealing with government, and a go-between for citizens with concerns and the halls of the capitol where those concerns can be addressed. One of my most rewarding experiences as a legislator was when I engaged directly with leaders at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to address the mistreatment of some families in my District. I was able to help the Department to better understand the needs (and rights) of the families, so government bureaucrats would not distress or hurt those they were trying to serve. The families ended up being treated with respect and the department was still able to provide needed service.
What is your philosophy on dealing with special interest groups and/or lobbyists?
Raybould: They are one source of information among many. Some groups, like trade associations, can connect legislators with people affected directly by proposed policies. In general, I tend to reach out most to people in my district, including local elected officials and constituents, with knowledge related to specific issues.
Nate: My four years of experience in the Idaho Legislature showed me how special interests and lobbyists have far too much power in Idaho government. They spend a ton of money to get favorable legislators elected and then achieve results the special interests expect. Idaho has a swamp for sure.
I learned early on to resist the temptation to take big-lobby money, and the obligations that go with it. Over 95% of my campaign donations come from individuals and private businesses. Other legislators, including my opponent, get the majority of their donations from special interests, lobbyists, and Boise power-brokers. That campaign money comes with strings, and a quick look at voting records reveals the disproportionate influence big-lobby has in Idaho.
District 34 needs a Representative who is independent of the lobbyists and focused on the needs and concerns of the residents of Madison and Bonneville Counties. My record shows I have been an elected official who puts the people over the special interests.
What are your views regarding the role of the media in covering Idaho’s political landscape?
Raybould: Idaho has a diverse range of voices in the media, from traditional platforms to all-digital, like East Idaho News. My view is the more coverage the better to inform citizens about what their state and local governments are doing.
Nate: The media is a very important part of the political process, and they have a responsibility to provide accurate and timely information without bias. People need the truth. Unfortunately, the media is not always great at getting the story and details right. Many times, I have had to call the newspaper or the radio station to set the record straight. Every politician can relate stories of how they or their actions have been misrepresented by the press, but it seems good conservative politicians get the short end of the stick more often than others. Fake news is a real thing.
I am happy to talk with reporters about important issues for Idaho, I am always honest in my answers, and I have learned to be extremely careful to explain the facts clearly and simply, so the story is reported correctly. Nonetheless, I am also vigilant to make sure reporters’ misstatements and inaccuracies are quickly corrected. Idahoans deserve the truth and objectivity from the press; part of a job as a Representative is to help the media get it right and to make sure the public is never misled. I work hard at that, and I am always thinking of how essential it is for the people to get the truth in all matters.