Van Burtenshaw, left, and Dr. Judd Miller, right | Courtesy photos
IDAHO FALLS – Incumbent Republican Sen. Van Burtenshaw is facing newcomer Dr. Jud Miller in the race for the District 35 senate seat, which covers parts Butte, Clark, Jefferson and Fremont counties.
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 Burtenshaw is available on his website and Facebook page.
More information on Miller can be found on his website and Facebook page.
Tell us about yourself. Please include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any prior experience in public office.
Burtenshaw: I am a lifelong Idahoan raised in Jefferson County. I graduated from West Jefferson High School, Ricks College, and attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah where I studied Business Management.
In 1981, I married my wife, Joni, and we have five children and 16 grandchildren.
Following in my father’s footsteps, I began my business in agriculture and livestock production. I am an independent contractor for Superior Livestock Auction, which is a nationwide livestock marketing company.
I have served four years in the Idaho House of Representatives and two years in the Idaho Senate.
Miller: I am a fourth-generation Idahoan of pioneer farmers who settled in Fremont County, Parker area. I am married to the former Mary Catherine Smith of Idaho Falls. We have five children and 30 grandchildren.
I am a retired family and emergency room physician with over 30 years’ experience serving the people of eastern Idaho with their medical problems.
I serve on the board of directors of The Giving Cupboard, a local food bank, and on the board of directors of the Madison Liberty Institute, an organization that studies and promotes principles of good government in the tradition of the Framers of our Constitution.
What are your proudest accomplishments in your personal life or career?
Burtenshaw: My proudest accomplishment would be based around my family and personal life. We have one son and four daughters. As a family, we work long, hard hours, which has helped our children gain a strong work ethic.
As far as my career is concerned, there’s never been just one specific accomplishment. As a self-employed businessman, I’ve worked hard to build a business that is sustainable, and that we will be able to pass on to our posterity.
Miller: Of course, my wife and children are the center of my happiness.
With regard to my proudest accomplishments, I would have to say that my tradition of service, whether it be in the above-mentioned organizations or through my work on various hospital committees, as Chief of the Medical Staff at Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg, and as Medical Director of the Student Health Center at Brigham Young University-Idaho.
Briefly explain your political platform and/or legislative goals if you are elected to office.
Burtenshaw: Quality education has long been one of my top priorities. A good education provides the best opportunity for success and prosperity for Idaho families.
Water is the lifeblood of Idaho citizens, businesses, and cities. I am committed to preserving a sustainable and renewable water supply for today and for the future.
Idaho is ranked among the top 10 in the United States for the production of more than 25 crops and livestock. Agriculture is the single largest contributor to Idaho’s economy, accounting for 20% of Idaho’s gross state production each year. I am committed to the approximately 25,000 farmers and ranchers, as well as all ag-based industries.
I am committed to helping small businesses in Idaho continue to be successful. During the past legislative session, we worked hard to reduce red tape and remove out-dated regulations that hinder growth.
Miller: I resist using the term “conservative” because it has lost some of its meaning today, being used by both limited government proponents and by left-leaning (and voting) moderate Republicans. I call myself a Constitutional Conservative, as I consider the U.S. Constitution a sacred and inspired document and feel that it should be interpreted through the lens of the original intent of the Founders, and in documents such as The Federalist Papers, etc.
My principal goal as a senator will be to tie all legislation to the principles of that document, as well as to a similar document, the Constitution of the State of Idaho. With other legislators, I will be taking an oath to uphold those two constitutions.
What are the greatest challenges facing your district?
Burtenshaw: Unfortunately, the current COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact upon our economy. We must do all within our power to stimulate this economy and put Idahoans back to work. Economic hardship is being experienced by the constituents in our district and across the State of Idaho.
Equally important to my constituents is property tax relief, which I believe is best understood on the local level.
Miller: The greatest challenge that faces my district is lack of voter interest and education in the principles of good government and in the political process. We all lead busy lives and assume that because it is a time of relative prosperity for most (with exceptions in this current pandemic climate!), that our state and local governments must be doing fine. Many tend to vote strictly along party lines or by name recognition. That is as far as they go in their voting decision process.
Most are not aware of the drift toward the centralizing of power and the creep of progressive policies. They feel we should look to Washington, D.C. or to Boise to solve our problems. Most don’t realize that to maintain our individual freedoms and personal prosperity, we must keep the reins of government close to the people. We must stay with proven principles and measure all legislation and all candidates by those principles.
How will you best represent the views of your constituents — even those with differing political views?
Burtenshaw: Each legislator has to communicate with his constituents, even those with differing views, and weigh the information as it relates to pending legislation. Everyone wants to be heard and understood. Constituent input, followed by research, allows us to make decisions based on the most valid information available.
Miller: Referencing the answer to the previous question, I will best represent my constituents by helping them understand what good government should look like through continued cottage meetings, through a personal blog where current issues are addressed and tied to principles.
For those with differing views, who will presumably be a minority if I am elected, I will continue to reach out to them and learn from them and invite them to study these principles with me insofar as they are willing.
What is your philosophy on dealing with special interest groups and/or lobbyists?
Burtenshaw: Whether dealing with lobbyists or special interest groups, the process is the same. As legislators, we are elected to a position of trust by our constituents. Our responsibility is to listen carefully, then do our homework using the most accurate information available. My research sources include the State Attorney General’s office, State Tax Commission, analysts from Legislative Services, The Department of Financial Management, Senate Leadership, Committee Chairmen, and other reliable resources. I can then make decisions, based on my research, which will benefit my constituents and the citizens of Idaho — and stand by the decision.
Miller: All of these need to be listened to and their requests measured by the standards of the two constitutions. Many legislators are tempted to drift to the ideological left as they are pressured by lobbyists and party leadership. I commit to my constituents to resist this by continual reference to the two founding documents and by staying in contact with those who sent me to Boise.
What are your views regarding the role of the media in covering Idaho’s political landscape?
Burtenshaw: The media plays an important role in covering politics as recognized by our founding fathers in the 1st amendment. In my opinion, the local media does a good job of providing the citizens of Idaho the necessary information to educate the electorate, as long as it is truthful and balanced.
Miller: The media, of course, is a valuable tool to keep constituents aware of the “political landscape,” but many politicians, especially those who are truly conservative, have mixed feelings about the media coverage they receive.
It is impossible for the media to avoid having some degree of “spin” (though many journalists try hard to be fair). There is a trust issue that makes many reluctant to work closely with the media.
I believe that progress can be made by applying the mantra, “We report, you decide.”