Retiring Idaho lawmaker Henderson backs Avista’s Gfeller for post
BOISE – Retiring Rep. Frank Henderson of Post Falls has endorsed Avista Corp. official Greg Gfeller to succeed him in office, as Gfeller heads into a hotly contested three-way GOP primary race for the seat.
No Democrat is running, so the Republican primary on May 20 will determine the winner.
“I was looking for someone with a business background, because jobs are such a major issue in Kootenai County and we need to expand the economy and the tax base,” said 91-year-old Henderson.
Gfeller – pronounced gee-feller – faces Jeff Ward, president of the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans and a former aide to then-U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt, and Don Cheatham, a retired longtime Los Angeles police officer, in the District 3 GOP primary.
Gfeller is director of operations for Avista’s East Region. He’s been with the company for more than 36 years and is a former lineman. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Washington University and a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University. Gfeller has lived in the Post Falls area since 1996.
Gfeller, 58, said, “I’m totally pro-growth, pro-jobs. I think government’s role is to provide infrastructure.”
Ward, 49, holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and a master’s degree in history from Eastern Washington University. He’s worked in the textbook publishing business and in public relations, and now has a publishing consulting firm.
“I think I’m the leading conservative candidate, and with lots of experience,” Ward said. “I have been out front on a number of issues, fighting Obamacare, promoting economic development by reducing taxes, and I’ve been kind of, you know, doing the work. I think that distinguishes me from my opponents, who really haven’t been that involved in taking stances and leading on issues.”
Cheatham, 68, worked for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security after his quarter-century with the Los Angeles Police Department.
He said he’s a “true conservative” and believes in everything that’s in the Idaho Republican Party platform.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from California State University-Los Angeles and has lived in Idaho since June 2012.
“Politics has always interested me,” Cheatham said. “I thought there was more I could do for my country.”