SANDPOINT – Voters in North Idaho’s most northern district will get a chance next week to either endorse the ultraconservative, headline-grabbing political maneuvers of Rep. Heather Scott, or select longtime Sandpoint resident Mike Boeck in the Republican primary election.
The Republican the voters choose Tuesday will then face Ellen Weissman or Bob Vicaryous, who are running as Democrats. The winners of those two primary races will face off in the general election for the Idaho House of Representatives District 1A in November.
Scott, who moved to Blanchard from Ohio about 20 years ago, sparked controversy in 2015 by displaying a Confederate battle flag in a local parade. She traveled in 2016 to visit the armed occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.
Scott also was stripped of her committee assignments for three weeks in 2017 after she suggested the only way to advance to leadership positions in the state House as a woman was to “spread her legs.”
On Tuesday, Scott told a group of energetic supporters at a candidate’s forum inside a packed Sandpoint High School auditorium that she went to Boise only to find politicians entrenched in Boise-centric “agenda.”
“If you don’t fit in that agenda or those ideas … you pretty much are not listened to,” she said. “By the end of my third year there, we pretty much had 20 consistent votes. We raised enough Cain down there that they started to listen to us.”
But Boeck said that for all of the antagonism Scott has stirred, she has done very little for her constituents.
“She’s consistently voted ‘no’ to supporting things that are really important to this district,” Boeck said.
He said the only thing Scott has accomplished is to help pass a bill that allows residents to carry a gun without a concealed-weapon permit.
“Now I can open carry. But what did it do to improve the lives of people in the district?” Boeck said. “When that’s all you concentrate on, that doesn’t open a highway to Bonners Ferry or put books in the classroom.”
Idaho ranked dead last of 50 states in 2015-16 for funding per student in the nation, according a study by the Rural School and Community Trust, a national nonprofit organization.
But Scott thinks the money flowing into the schools is more than enough to do the job.
“Dumping money into our schools is not going to fix our problems,” Scott said. “It’s going to the administrators.
“It will blow your mind what we are paying people to do in our schools. Reduce the money we are pumping into administrators and managers and let the teachers teach the kids,” she said as the crowd erupted into applause.
Boeck said the state needs to find a stable funding mechanism. Traditionally, rural schools have relied on timber sales on state and federal land, which can fluctuate from year to year.
“The other thing we really want to take a hard look at is vocational education,” Boeck said. “We are having a terrible time finding workers in the trades. We need to focus on that going forward because we are really hurting for folks up here in the workforce.”
As for support of gun rights, Scott drew more strong applause from her audience when she called for “absolutely no infringements” on the Second Amendment and reminded her supporters how she helped get the open-carry law passed.
Boeck said he swore an oath as an Army officer to defend the Constitution. He opposes new gun restrictions, but supports some gun laws already on the books. Voters need someone who is not so “divisive,” he said.
Scott “said she’s against criminal background checks of any kind to purchase a weapon,” Boeck said. “If you don’t do criminal background checks, it’s not only irresponsible, it’s dangerous. They call me a gun grabber for that. I think we have enough gun laws, but we just need to enforce them.”
Former state Sen. Shawn Keough, the longest-serving woman state senator in Idaho history, recently retired after 22 years. She endorsed Boeck for the primary race for the House in her district.
“I’ve known Mike, gosh, for probably 30 years at least,” Keough said. “I just think that he would do a good job. And, he is interested in productive and positive representation for our district.”