BOISE – An Idaho state lawmaker says constituents shouldn’t be concerned that he hasn’t made a house payment since June 2012, four months before he was elected to the Idaho House.
Freshman Rep. Brandon Hixon, R-Caldwell, said he’s been negotiating a home mortgage modification with his lender. He expects the process to be completed by late January, averting a foreclosure auction set for March.
“We’ve got a plan drafted and I think it will work out just fine,” Hixon said Monday. “This doesn’t have any kind of impact on my ability to be an effective legislator. Obviously it’s a trying time, when it comes right down to it, but I think we’ve worked through it diligently. We’re going to come out leaner and stronger as a family from this thing.”
Hixon, who at 32 is currently the youngest member of the Idaho Legislature, narrowly defeated Democrat Travis Manning in 2012, though his Canyon County district is heavily Republican.
During the campaign, the Idaho Press-Tribune, Hixon’s hometown newspaper, reported that the he’d had five misdemeanors by age 21 for such offenses as urinating in public and being a minor in possession of alcohol; 15 infractions, mostly for traffic violations, between 1998 and 2009; and small-claims court orders to pay past-due rent in 2003 and 2005.
Hixon told the newspaper then, “Obviously I’ve changed. … It’s not a reflection on what’s going to happen in the future. You basically grow up. You understand what true responsibility is.”
Hixon said his financial problems aren’t a sign of a return to his youthful mistakes. “I haven’t had so much as a speeding ticket in the last four and a half years,” he said. “I think what’s important to remember here is the fact that I gave up a very high-paying job to come to my service to the people of Legislative District 10. This is personal, and we’ll work it out.”
Hixon, who is married with four children ranging in age from 2 to 13, said he resigned from his job as an insurance agent for Liberty Mutual in May 2012, after the firm belatedly informed him it viewed legislative service as a conflict of interest with his employment. Since then, he’s been an independent agent, but said his business has suffered due to his legislative service. “It’s taken time away from my business as an insurance agent,” he said. “The time demands on a legislator are pretty significant.”
Idaho lawmakers are paid $16,438 per year plus expenses; they typically meet in session for about three months a year, from January through March, though some meetings are held at various times throughout the year.
Hixon said his constituents have been supportive. “I’m not a multimillionaire retired legislator, I’m a working guy,” he said. “I think I’m very in touch with the people. … People say, ‘This guy’s a regular guy, an average guy who’s having troubles like hundreds of thousands of Idahoans, and obviously he’s getting it taken care of.’”
He added, “I’m up-front about everything from Day 1. That’s what everybody needs to understand. I don’t think it’s been any big secret that it has been a financial crunch for me. But at the end of the day, we’re not on state assistance, we’re not out there begging for a handout, we’re taking care of it.”
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