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Incumbent District 33 representative faces opponent in the May Republican primary

Rep. Marco Erickson, left, is challenging Jilene Burger is the race for District 33 representative. | Courtesy photos
IDAHO FALLS – Incumbent Marco Erickson, a representative for District 33 Seat B, faces a challenger in the upcoming Republican primary.
Jilene Burger, who serves as the chairwoman of the Legislative District 33 Committee, will also be on the ballot.
District 33 includes the “doughnut hole” of Idaho Falls between Anderson, Skyline and portions of Sunnyside Road.
Erickson was first elected in 2020. If re-elected, it will be his third term. Details about his campaign are available here.
Burger ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Idaho Falls City Council last year. The Facebook page for her campaign is available here. sent each candidate the same eight questions. Their responses were required to be 250 words or less. One response was edited for exceeding the word limit.
The primary is May 21.
Tell us about yourself — include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any prior experience in public office.
Erickson: I have been married to my wife Emily for 22 years, and we have 5 children 4 boys, and 1 daughter ages 10-21. I have a masters degree in psychology and have worked my entire life to help families live healthier and happier lives. In Idaho I currently serve as an elected legislator for the past 4 years with assignments on the health and welfare committee, Judiciary and rules committee, local government committee, and joint millennium funds committee. Locally I help run a nonprofit that helps keep youth out of trouble, and helps families navigate challenges without entering state systems. I serve as a board member of Community Suicide Prevention, A board member of Idaho Drug Free Youth, I serve on the Region 7 Juvenile Justice Council, I’m the regional coordinator for Idaho FIRST, a national youth robotics organization. I help with the region 7 behavioral health board children’s sub committee when possible, and in my spare time like to write music and perform at local events.
Burger: I was born in Provo, Utah, of parents attending Brigham Young University. As a child I lived in Arizona, Texas, Wisconsin, and Virginia. I worked three summers in Washington D.C. for the Department of State and Internal Revenue Service as a university student aide. After college, my husband, David, and I, moved to Idaho. We have lived in Idaho Falls since 1981. We raised two daughters, both mothers and musicians in their communities. Dave passed away in 2012. I miss him dearly. I am grateful to have 9 grandchildren, with one on the way.
My husband and I have been involved in the music community, he, as the band teacher at IFHS for 30 years, and I, as an elementary classroom and music teacher. We both played in the Idaho Falls Symphony for over 30 years, and we have been active in our church and given service as musicians, teachers, and ministers.
After Dave passed away, I became more involved in the Republican Party being elected as a Precinct Committee Officer (PCO). I enjoyed walking my precinct and visiting with my constituents. I believe we need to be involved as citizens and study the founding documents of our state and nation. Therein are the blueprints for maintaining the freedoms our forefathers envisioned for our country. One of the best ways to do that is to start at the bottom of the grassroots—we the people, and be active as a precinct officer, which I have done for the last 13 years.
Why are you seeking political office? Briefly explain your political platform.
Burger: There has been a departure in government from the principles that were used in founding our nation. According to the Declaration of Independence, governments were instituted among men to secure the God-given rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness
Erickson: I ran for office to use my expertise in health and welfare and juvenile justice to make a lasting impact for Idaho. I saw that things were not where they can be and wanted to make an impact using my skills. I didn’t run to have a pre set of ideals other than serving the public. I am a republican and use those principals of investing in the base to save large amounts of money later on in life. I have always been a public servant since age 10 and have dedicated my life to making a positive long lasting impact on the community and State as a whole. I was never really political but wanted to make a difference with my knowledge and have proven that to be a thing that works in Idaho. I have passed a lot of legislation over time that solves real problems, and can help youth and their families for generations. I have been blessed to be a part of 4 years of record tax breaks for Idaho, building financial stability in Idaho, Investing in schools and teachers, Investing in healthcare, and helping change the juvenile justice system in a big way. I hope to continue to build on these wins, and use the momentum to continue the work.
What are the greatest challenges facing people and communities in your district? What is your plan to meet those challenges?
Erickson: People are struggling financially. It use to be rather cheap to live in Idaho Falls but many of us are feeling the sting of economic changes, inflation, and rising cost of living. I cannot change the federal government and their policies, although I did help pass some federal legislation once on opioids policy, but for Idaho I can help reduce regulatory burdens on builders, make it easier to fill workforce shortages, and help people gain access to a quality education that helps increase wages. I have done these things with my votes in the legislature. I will continue to support policies that help invest in our base to build for the future. That includes making sure our communities are safe to live in, we have good roads and bridges to drive on, and we have good public schools for our young scholars to attend.
Burger: People are worried about grocery prices and inflation. Others are wondering how they will pay property taxes. I am running as the Voice of the Taxpayer. I would give my constituents relief by repealing the grocery tax, and supporting legislation to reduce property taxes and reduce spending.
How will you best represent the views of your constituents – even those with differing political views? How will you communicate directly with constituents?
Burger: I am running on a platform of fiscal and social responsibility and a return to limited government spending. Most of my constituents would support that. If not, I will listen to their concerns, but would still hold to the promises I made to the voters who get me elected.
Erickson: I try verry hard to represent all of the members of my community. As their representative I am not a puppet to the party, or to a specific interest group. I get to vote how I want and how the public wants. I actually engage with the public every day of my life. I listen to parents talk about their struggles, I talk with teachers, I talk with business professionals, I attend meetings with groups of all backgrounds who want me to hear their concerns. I study the polling data. I allow the people I represent to have my cell phone to call whenever there is a concern or problem they worry about. I get many text messages and have great dialogue with those interested in a cause. I am a good legislator who can hear all sides of an argument before making a decision. I am not so set in my ways that I can’t hear facts, and make an informed decision. I actually study the issue and sometimes have to make decisions that are not what I would normally want. I am a lifelong learner and don’t think I know it all. I appreciate public input and welcome it.
What parts of the state budget could use more funding? Where are places in the budget that cuts could be made?
Erickson: I have said from day one of my work that we need to invert the funding to be more upstream and prevention focused. We spend a lot of resources dealing with issues after they become a problem rather than stopping them before they arise. I have seen it work and have been making great headway in the legislature to put more funding in that space for the justice system, and in the mental health space. I was responsible for helping fund juvenile assessment centers, and juvenile crisis centers, as well as continuing funding for public health districts, Medicaid, and adult services. These things cost up front but save us money later. We have been investing more and more and doing better each year making up for years of neglect in these spaces. We can always do better. I would evaluate and cut funding in some programs that were needed at the time they were implemented but are not necessary anymore in order to fund more school buildings. We did a good job getting started but have a lot more work to do on deferred maintenance on school facilities funding from the legislature so local taxes can be reduced.
Burger: In my view, there are no parts of the state budget that could use more funding. There are plenty that could be pared back, however.
Are you currently working on any legislation or have ideas for bills that you feel are vital to the future of Idaho? Please provide details.
Burger: Idaho needs to be diligent in protecting the rights of all citizens. We need to make sure all have the right to freedom of speech, the freedom of association, the right to protect our own property, including bodily autonomy, and more freedom from government regulations and restrictions. We need to protect the desire for decency in our communities, and the freedom to educate our children in a free-market system. We need to repeal the grocery tax, and repeal or reduce property taxes.
Erickson: While in session I am working on things for the next year. We will see bills that trigger us to want to fix another issue. This year I have been extremely focused on making a plan to distribute the millennium funds in a way that has the biggest impact for the next 5 years. In addition I’m working on major reforms for the adults who receive a misdemeanor charge for minor infractions. We have some ideas that could help save taxpayers money, and reduce costs to the courts. These minor changes and pilot projects can make a huge lasting impact. These are not things that everyone can just pull off. It takes years of experience, training, and expertise which I have. My skills have been strong in the legislature for that reason. I stick to what I know and people listen to me and vote in favor of the well-researched and well thought out legislation I bring.
Have you seen any mistakes made by the Idaho Legislature in recent years? How would you work to correct these errors?
Erickson: I think the biggest mistake we made was having a law that drives medical providers away from the State and puts women’s health at risk. We should not be suing doctors or making them scared to provide essential healthcare services. Many of us are pro-life, pro-family, and pro-mothers. We took it a bit too far with the trigger law that took effect after row verses Wade was overturned. I voted in favor of the law and did not expect the problems it would create so I was motivated to help solve it. I still want to protect the life of preborn children, and the mothers, as so many others do, but I surely do not want to have people suing our doctors. I offered to run a bill through the health and welfare committee and know we have all the votes to fix the issue, but it is routed to the state affairs committee and I cannot get the issue to move forward until the Supreme court challenge on the Idaho law is completed.
Burger: The Launch Bill was a grievous mistake. Even though it’s exciting for certain high school students to get an $8,000 award to pursue a vocation, the legislature was wrong in awarding that to only the ones who were going into certain paths of study.
What is the most important issue facing Idahoans? What is a legislator’s role in meeting or addressing that issue?
Burger: The most important issue is the fact that the government thinks it has the authority to redistribute wealth. I don’t have the power to take from one neighbor to give to another, so I can’t delegate that to the government, which gets its authority from the consent of the governed. We need to get back to the government being restricted to police, fire, defense, transportation, etc. and leaving the money in the hands of the people so they can take care of their own affairs. More money in the hands of the voters would encourage businesses to spring up. People would be more inclined and able to give to charities and churches, etc. People would be unified as communities who take care of each other. We wouldn’t need the government to oversee our lives and affairs. We need to gradually transition to being a more self-reliant people, not dependent upon government handouts.
Erickson: The biggest issue in Idaho is continuing to manage the growth. We have major impact on our Medicaid program, schools, roads and bridges, and housing. We have to maintain the public’s health, fund schools, have safe roads to travel on, and safe affordable housing. The legislature has to review current policy and look for updates to help with minor changes that make the best current impact. When we are the best State in the union and people see that they all want to be here. The legislators role is to recognize the issues and try to educate themselves on practical solutions rather than special interests groups demands. Then we have to implement those practical solutions. Just killing every program in the name of being conservative is not the answer, but being conservative with critical thinking skills and rational responses is the right way to be.
The post Incumbent District 33 representative faces opponent in the May Republican primary appeared first on East Idaho News.

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