April 30, 2012 in Idaho

Idaho’s District 3 drawing challenges in GOP

Incumbent Henderson no longer unopposed
By The Spokesman-Review
Idaho District 3 candidates

House Seat 3B – GOP primary

Frank Henderson

AGE: 89

OCCUPATION: Incumbent; retired marketing executive and newspaper publisher

NOTABLE EXPERIENCE: Serving fourth two-year term in House. Former Kootenai County commissioner, 1983-’91; former mayor of Post Falls, 1980-’83; World War II veteran, U.S. Army; consultant on public administration and economic development in eastern Europe, 1993-2003; American Legion Post 143, Post Falls. Former member of legislative joint budget committee; current vice-chair of House Business Committee.

KEY CAMPAIGN PROMISES: Promises to continue his emphasis on economic development and creating jobs; says, “That’s No. 1. … I think we’ve got the foundations of the recovery in place, but we just need to identify our opportunities and then take advantage of them.” Secondly, will “support the effort to evaluate and create a private health insurance exchange – private, not state.” Thirdly, will work toward Idaho taking primacy on wastewater permitting, giving the state Department of Environmental Quality the lead role, rather than the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Jack Schroeder

AGE: 73

OCCUPATION: Insurance agent; operates Northern Financial Services LLC

NOTABLE EXPERIENCE: Business career included work for large companies in New York; operating marketing group in the furniture and electronic industries in Southern California; developing seminar programs for two California employers; and entering the insurance business in 2001. Has delivered more than 100 seminars on asset preservation for seniors. Second run for the Legislature; challenged Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d’Alene, in the GOP primary two years ago, getting 12 percent of the vote in a three-way race.

KEY CAMPAIGN PROMISES: “We can’t draw people here to start new businesses because they’re taxed too high.” Favors lowering all taxes on business. “We need to figure out how to do it. … I will work towards that.” Calls for a 3 percent across-the-board pay cut for all state employees and moving to a four-day workweek, while cutting pay for all state employees who make more than the governor’s $115,348 salary; there currently are 262, from college presidents to doctors to the adjutant general of the Idaho National Guard. “We have to all participate in the recovery but we can’t raise taxes to do it, we have to lower expenses.”

House Seat 3A – GOP primary

Ron Mendive

AGE: 62

OCCUPATION: Self-employed, excavation and construction business

NOTABLE EXPERIENCE: “I’m an informed voter and American citizen.” Elected Kootenai County GOP precinct committeeman; chairman of elections subcommittee. Has worked in mining, logging and construction. Avid sportsman.

KEY CAMPAIGN PROMISES: “My main things are to try to preserve liberty.” Favors pushing back against federal government on Forest Service land management plans, EPA regulation, wolves and health care reform. Opposes a state health care exchange, which he says “would have put Obamacare on the books.” Favors more school choice, “be it public, charter, private or home school, it is a parent’s decision.”

Jeff Tyler

AGE: 52

OCCUPATION: Home builder, contractor and property manager; also part-time school bus driver

NOTABLE EXPERIENCE: Started own business at age 21. Elected Kootenai County GOP precinct committeeman. Helped found Kootenai County Reagan Republicans and Panhandle Pachyderms Club in Post Falls. Served as campaign manager for Jim Brannon for Coeur d’Alene City Council campaign; Brannon narrowly lost. Served on Kootenai County Flood Mitigation Committee that developed the county’s 1998 flood mitigation plan after disastrous floods in 1996-’97.

KEY CAMPAIGN PROMISES: Supports drug testing for welfare recipients. Backs reducing taxes and regulations, while expanding development of natural resources. Supports legislation proposed by Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, to provide $10 million a year in tax credits for donations to private-school scholarships. “I’m for charter schools and private schools and home schools; I just think the more choice the better.”

For the last two elections, one North Idaho legislative district saw few contested races, as popular incumbents were repeatedly re-elected. This year is different, with fourth-term Republican Rep. Frank Henderson facing a challenge in the May 15 primary, and two newcomers facing off for the open seat that Rep. Bob Nonini is leaving to run for the state Senate.

“Had I not run … we would have given an incumbent his third straight term without opposition, and I find that to be un-American,” said Jack Schroeder, 73, Henderson’s primary challenger. “At least they know there’s another alternative, and there’s another person who’s willing to go out there and fight for what he thinks is right, just like Frank has done for all these years.”

Schroeder said he wants to bring what’s now legislative District 3 “new leadership and new direction.”

Henderson not only has served four terms in the Legislature, he’s well-known as a former Kootenai County commissioner, former mayor of Post Falls, former newspaper publisher and the current Legislature’s oldest member at 89, though one of its most energetic.

Henderson said, “I don’t like to be critical, but I’ve got tremendous involvement in local government, city government, county government, state government. I’ve got the experience to be relevant and hopefully effective on most every issue. My opponent has never held an office; he’s not active in local meetings. … Recognizing we may have 20 or 25 new members in the House, having members that are experienced is going to be more valuable than usual.”

Henderson made waves in 2011 by giving up a coveted seat on the powerful joint budget committee to focus on economic development. Now vice-chairman of the House Business Committee, this year he managed to push through the first sales tax break to win the support of the Senate tax committee in at least four years, to boost Idaho businesses that install parts into out-of-state aircraft. Henderson said the bill will directly create dozens of jobs in Idaho.

“I’m going to continue my emphasis on economic development and creating jobs,” Henderson said. He wants to work with new state Commerce Director Jeff Sayer on a strategy that focuses on helping existing Idaho companies expand.

Schroeder, an insurance agent, takes a different tack, saying, “I think we have to start to turn back to where we were 200 years ago. I think if we don’t do that even on the state level, we’re going to fall into oblivion. We’re getting ready for a big downfall economically in this country.”

He wants lower taxes and deep cuts in pay for state workers, who received a 2 percent pay raise this year after four straight years of zero raises; current state studies estimate that state employee pay lags 18.6 percent below market rates.

“Somebody has to stand up and say we don’t have the money,” Schroeder said. “We can’t keep giving increases out and having all these people out of work. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not economically sound.”

The winner of the two-way primary race will face Democrat Ronald K. Johnson, of Post Falls, in November.

The district’s other House seat, formerly held by Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, has attracted two candidates in the GOP primary, the winner of which will face Democrat David Larsen in November: Ron Mendive and Jeff Tyler, both of Coeur d’Alene. Both currently serve on the county GOP central committee.

Tyler has won the endorsements of Henderson and Nonini, and he is a local contractor and GOP activist. He’s a founder of the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans and the Pachyderm Club in Post Falls.

Mendive, who has an excavation and construction business and is affiliated with the United Conservatives of North Idaho, said his main platform is to preserve liberty; Tyler said his is to cut taxes and reduce regulations.

Tyler said, “It was funny because I was at a tea party event here, and a lady asked us both, ‘How come you guys are running against each other? You guys sound the same.’ ”

Mendive said, “I just want to make sure that we’re represented in a conservative manner.”

Nonini is unopposed in the primary in his bid for the district’s Senate seat, but he will face Democrat Kristy Reed Johnson, of Post Falls, on the November ballot.

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