Van Burtenshaw, left, is seeking re-election as a senator for District 31. Fran Bryson is challenging him in the primary. | Courtesy photos
IDAHO FALLS – Two candidates are hoping to become the Republican party nominee in the race for District 31 senator.
Newcomer Fran Bryson of Rigby is challenging incumbent Van Burtenshaw of Terreton.
EastIdahoNews.com sent the same eight questions to each candidate. Their responses were required to be 250 words or less.
Visit Burtenshaw’s Facebook page here. Bryson’s page is available here.
District 31 includes Lemhi, Clark, Fremont and Jefferson counties.
The primary will be held 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.
Burtenshaw: I have been blessed to live and raise a family right here in Idaho. I am a fourth-generation farmer and rancher. My life has been spent in the Terreton area. After graduating from West Jefferson High School, I graduated from Ricks College and attended Brigham Young University in Provo, studying business management. My parents, Don and Beverly Burtenshaw, were perfect examples of service. My father served 10 years in the Idaho Senate and I am honored to follow his example.
My family includes my good wife Joni of 41 years, five children, and 17 adorable grandkids. Together, we have gained a deep appreciation for our public education system, especially dedicated teachers.
Bryson: I was blessed to be raised in a livestock family where I learned to work and love it. My husband was Vice President of SCE’s Northern Division, which gave me the opportunity to see the corporate side. I’m also proud of my background in agriculture.
I have been involved in my community in various capacities, which I hope has made a difference.
I served on the Board of Directors for the Ventura philharmonic Symphony.
I was in an art Gallery in Atlantic Beach, Florida (the Anchor Women for NBC purchased one of my paintings).
I worked with ADD and ADHD children for many years.
I taught early morning Seminary for seven years.
What are your proudest accomplishments in your personal life or career?
Bryson: I have been deeply involved in campaigns every election year for the candidate of my choice. I have a sincere love for our great country which motivated me to work so hard. My late husband and I raised seven wonderful children and their spouses are just as outstanding. We have 24 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. I guess this is my real motivation to run for office.
Burtenshaw: While I am most proud of my wonderful family, my wife deserves most of the credit there. Serving in the legislature has allowed me to assist in passing the largest tax relief in Idaho history. As Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Affairs Committee, I am honored to ensure Idaho agriculture has a front seat in policymaking.
Why are you a member of the Republican party? Briefly explain your political platform.
Burtenshaw: My personal, professional and religious beliefs most closely align with the Republican party. Conservative governance is the reason why I have a successful business, a loving family, and Idaho’s economy is healthy. It is the party of Lincoln and Reagan, and safeguards our Constitutional rights, empowering each of us in our pursuit of happiness.
Bryson: I am a Republican because they believe in less government control, less taxes, less regulations, and it reflects my values.
I will promote education:
Money follows the students.
Try to stop the intrusion of Federal programs in our local schools, such as common core, CRT, social and emotional learning, SEL, etc. Parents have to be involved in the schools.
Give the classroom back to the teachers without outside interference and mandates so that they can return to basic education (3 R’s).
I will promote agriculture, forestry, mining and oppose gun control and abortion.
What are the greatest challenges facing Idahoans?
Bryson: I think the most pressing issue that I hear people concerned about is inflation. Money printed and thrown into the economy inflates prices. It is hard on all age groups and especially young families. They need a free range to expand their ability to provide a comfortable lifestyle without the added worry of prices escalating faster than incomes. We are also held back by unnecessary regulations in our lives.
Burtenshaw: Idaho is experiencing unprecedented growth. We are not used to addressing the onslaught of new issues that come with an increased population. Family farms are being turned into housing developments and the cost of housing is keeping our kids and grandkids from being able to become homeowners. Property taxes are overburdening Idahoans. Local law enforcement are witnessing a new level of crime. These are all issues we can solve, but we must be prepared to work together if we want to solve them.
How will you best represent the views of your constituents – even those with differing political views?
Burtenshaw: I adhere to the old adage that we have two ears and one mouth because we should do twice as much listening as talking. A fatal flaw in today’s world is seeking first to be understood rather than seeking first to understand. I am proud of my knowledge and experience, but I am most successful when I am listening to others, especially those who see the world with a different set of eyes.
Bryson: I will represent my constituents by holding the line on higher taxes, government spending, strangling regulations, and overreach of the Federal Government. I think government closest to the people works best. It is easier to hold local individuals accountable.
I will work with constituents by listening to their view. We can learn by sharing.
What role do lobbying entities play in the decision-making of Idaho legislators?
Bryson: Lobbyists can be a tool for information gathering. There are always many sides to an issue. They can be helpful if held in the proper parameters. They can be very influential if a public servant becomes obligated to them and soon they are swayed unknowingly.
Burtenshaw: It is most important that I understand the needs of those who live in Jefferson, Clark, Lemhi and Fremont Counties. Lobby groups can be valuable resources to help me understand those needs. I appreciate those who have expertise in areas where I do not. These groups should help lawmakers solve problems, they should not be there just to help lawmakers get reelected.
How can you encourage compromise, debate and a bipartisan approach to introducing new legislation in Idaho?
Burtenshaw: Unfortunately, compromise has turned into a dirty word. We should never compromise on our principles, but if we want to govern, we cannot expect to get 100% of what we want all of the time. I am of the opinion that much can be accomplished when people come together and talk through their differences. It is easy to attack someone when hiding behind a computer monitor. I prefer to meet someone in person, where I can look at them in the eyes and shake their hand.
Bryson: There should be more cooperation between Houses. If a bill in the House makes it out of committee and goes to the Senate, it should come to the floor. If leadership says it is a bad bill, at least let it be discussed and have a hearing on its merit.
In the end, my decision would have to meet certain criteria:
How much does it cost?
Does it promote bigger government and more bureaucracy?
Does it serve the populous or special interest groups?
Hopefully, both parties will come to the same conclusion.
What parts of Idaho government could benefit from additional state funding? What part of Idaho government could be improved with financial cutbacks?
Bryson: I don’t see increasing money on any level, given the conditions we are in at this time. Families have to live on a budget. Why not the government?
My thrust and influence would be to help individuals thrive, not pour more hard-earned money into government.
Burtenshaw: State funding is tax dollars, and when we choose to allocate that money we must remember that we have been trusted to be good stewards. Investing in education must continue to be a priority. I use the word ‘investing’ because we know that throwing money at a problem is not the solution. Idaho has made great developments in education improvements, I would like to see those continue.
As Idaho continues to experience a surplus, tax relief must continue. Returning more of Idahoans’ hard earned money back to their pocket is the right solution.
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