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Eye On Boise

North Idaho Rep. Heather Scott draws GOP challenger for next election

Mike Boeck
Mike Boeck

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By Betsy Z. Russell

Mike Boeck, a 4th-generation Bonner County resident, former Priest River Chamber of Commerce president, longtime county GOP central committee member and longtime forest products industry employee, announced Friday that he'll challenge controversial Rep. Heather Scott in 2018.

“I just feel that we haven’t gotten the quality of representation we should,” Boeck said. “I’m kinda semi-retired, so I kinda ran out of excuses.”

Boeck said he’s already announced his candidacy to both the Boundary County and Bonner County GOP central committees; he’s served on the Bonner committee for more than 20 years.

“I told them I respect Heather’s service, which I do – it takes a lot of courage to run for office,” said Boeck, 67. “But I think we need a choice. And all I ask of this committee is honesty and respect, because it can get real nasty in a campaign.”

Scott, R-Blanchard, is in her second two-year term. She’s clashed with other lawmakers including GOP leaders; at the opening of this year’s legislative session, she was stripped of all her committee assignments for charging that her fellow female House members only advance if they “spread their legs.” Her committees were reinstated after she apologized.

Scott, a former aquatic biologist who quit her job to be a full-time state legislator, is a conservative who’s popular with the “American Redoubt” movement, whose adherents are moving to North Idaho and nearby areas in search of a defensible home base for an anticipated societal collapse.  Scott, who arrived in the area from Ohio 19 years ago, became active in politics just four years ago, and has made waves in her short political career, organizing citizen supporters, raising objections to routine legislation, and displaying a confederate battle flag in a local parade.

She also drew attention for damaging a ceiling in the state Capitol where her legislative office is located, to remove what she charged was a listening device.

Boeck holds a bachelor’s degree in forestry from the University of Idaho and is a U.S. Army veteran who served 20 years in the Idaho National Guard, retiring as a major. He’s long been a member of the Idaho Forest Products Commission, and serves on a state working group on intermodal transportation. He’s worked as a firefighter, smokejumper and forester; and held positions including resource manager, mill manager, division manager and general manager at an array of North Idaho forest products firms.

Asked why he thought he’d be better for the post than Scott, Boeck said, “All I can do is point to her record. And obviously, I don’t see anything there that has improved my life or the life of those folks that I know well. And I’ve got to tell you, I’ve gotten tremendous support within this district so far, overwhelming.”

Idahos 1st legislative district is the northernmost in the state, taking in all of Boundary County and most of Bonner County.

“I’ve been in politics off and on pretty much for many, many years,” Boeck said, though this will be his first run for elective office other than his GOP precinct committee post. He served on the committee that years ago pushed successfully to form a new school district for the west side of Bonner County, and is currently involved with an urban renewal effort through the Bonner Sewer and Water District to extend sewer and water lines to a newly annexed area on the other side of the river in Oldtown that will be home to a several new stores, including a Shopko and an auto parts store.

“Urban renewal is a very interesting concept and it’s been abused statewide in different areas of the state, so they’ve kind of tightened up on that,” Boeck said. “But in this case, it was just to bring essential services, sewer and water. Septic systems had failed on that east side.”

Boeck listed his top issues as transportation, education and natural resources.

“I have come to know very well the issues that this district really cares about,” Boeck said in his announcement. “I know that my experience and common sense approach to problem solving can bring a much-needed partner to our current District 1 Representative, Position B, Sage Dixon, and District 1 State Senator Shawn Keough.”

Dixon, R-Ponderay, was elected at the same time as Scott; Keough, R-Sandpoint, has represented the district for 11 terms and chairs the Legislature’s joint budget committee.

It’s early for candidates to be announcing – the GOP primary isn’t until May of 2018. But attention in Idaho already is turning to the 2018 election, with a big race shaping up for governor after current Gov. Butch Otter retires; and every statewide office on the ballot, along with every seat in the 105-member state Legislature.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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