Four candidates, including two incumbents, face off in GOP primary for District 9 Senate seat

District 9 Senate GOP Primary Candidates
Posted at 3:00 AM, May 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-16 13:18:19-04

IDAHO — Statewide redistricting shifted the lines of Legislative District 9, resulting in a GOP primary race between four candidates, including two incumbents. This is for one State Senate seat.

There are no democrats on the ballot for this seat.

Kayla Dunn

Dunn is a parental rights activist, serving as the State Director of Power to Parent. She's also a political activist.

She and her husband moved to Idaho from Nevada.

"My husband moved here to support Idaho. He's been supporting Idaho for work, for his career for over four years," she said.

After being politically involved since moving to the state, Dunn decided to run for State Senate because she feels current legislators are not listening to parents when it comes to education-related legislation.

If elected, she said her top priorities would include school choice, parental rights and lowering taxes.

"I would sponsor or co-sponsor a bill to expand school choice here in Idaho," Dunn said. "One of the biggest concerns that we had here in Idaho, the teachers' unions and the public school officials, they were afraid about public schools losing funding. And then we also had our homeschooling families, they were afraid—they were also concerned about governmental interference."

On parental rights, she thinks it should be mandatory for parents to be involved in their child's education.

"One thing that we can do is making sure there's mandatory curriculum adoption committees where the parents have to be involved," Dunn said.

During the 2022 Legislative Session, Republican Rep. Judy Boyle of Midvale introduced a bill seeking to bring parents to the forefront of curriculum decisions. It requires school districts to create a curriculum adoption committee made up of 12 people, including six parents from the district.

The bill ultimately passed and was signed into law and became law after facing pushback from some over concerns of unintended consequences and possible difficulty rural school districts might face in complying.

"It shouldn't matter how large or small the population is, every parent should be involved," she said. "The size of the parent adoption committee can vary depending on the needs of the community," Dunn said.

On taxes, she said she would work with other legislators to lower property taxes.

"I think one small step that we can take is starting with the grocery tax and then also just encouraging a lot of the people to get involved again at the local level," she said. "The income is stable, but the cost of living is going up, the cost of groceries is going up and Idahoans don't know how they're going to feed their families."

Dunn said the biggest thing lawmakers can do to solve this issue is slow down Idaho's growth.

"What does that look like? Growth ordinances in each city. I know that's very tough for a lot of people to think about, but if we have an influx of people coming in and we're having an infrastructure problem, there's going to be a need to build more bridges, more roads, improve the highways, also more schools. And so that's going to increase the property tax overall," she said.

Sen. Abby Lee

Lee is from Fruitland and is part of the Senate Health and Welfare, Judiciary and Rules and State Affairs committees. She's also part of Governor Brad Little's Esto Perpetua, anti-drug task force.

She's running for her fifth term in the Idaho Senate and she said one of her reasons for running is encouragement from local officials and entities that know she's responsive to local issues.

Originally, she ran because, she said like many people, she didn't feel that she was being represented and she wanted to bring attention and solutions to issues she cares about like transparency with oil and gas.

If re-elected, Lee would prioritize lowering taxes, education and the drug epidemic.

"In my district in particular, raising the sales tax is a death nail to the businesses. We are located right on the border against a state, Oregon that doesn't have a sales tax," Lee said.

She said this solution to lowering property taxes would also reduce transparency related to how local governments are spending money.

"I think lowering property tax, one of the first things we can do is make sure the state is paying for those services, we have a lot of unfunded mandates back to our cities and counties," Lee said.

The Legislature took steps toward this during the 2022 Legislative Session.

"I was able to lead some legislation to reduce the cost of public defense for our counties as well as some of those indigent costs," Lee said.

She is also in favor of removing the grocery tax.

"We have a surplus, we have a budget surplus and so we can make some real investments in returning those dollars back to our families," she said.

On education, she said she has supported education funding and will continue to do so.

When talking about the drug epidemic, Lee points to her record of supporting a multi-pronged approach.

"I think continuing to look at not only strong drug laws, but also services. Services for people who are addicts, services for families," she said.

Lee is also concerned about extremism in Idaho.

"I'm a Republican, I think competition is a great thing in markets and elections, but I really am concerned about the continued extremist voices that are trying to dismantle what Idaho is and all of the great things that we built," she said. "I'm a limited government person, but I'm not an anti-government—I think that there is a common good."

Jordan Marques

Marques grew up on a dairy and now owns a firearms manufacturing business and has been active in state politics for years.

He said he was inspired to be involved in state politics because of family that immigrated to the U.S. from Portugal when it was under a communist regime.

Marques decided to run in part because of redistricting.

"With redistricting and having two kind of establishment candidates having to go against each other we thought maybe we could make a run at it and get this seat back for Conservatives," He said.

If elected he said his top priorities include property tax relief, health freedom, school choice and property and land rights.

On school choice, he said he wants to make sure the money follows the child and will protect homeschoolers' rights.

"We have the room in our budget to get rid of property taxes for seniors, we just need to take care of that immediately," Marques said.

He said if elected, he would work to remove property taxes first for seniors.

"I've been formulating a plan for that so immediately, right out of the gate, we can get people more secure in their homes and protected from that," Marques said.

On property and water rights, he said he currently helps a lot of people with land and water rights issues and conflicts as a volunteer.

"Property and water rights are a huge issue for everyone right now especially with the Meta data center coming in and using so much water," he said.

As we've reported, Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook announced plans to build a data center in Kuna back in February.

As our media partners at Boise Dev have reported, Meta said it will add water to the Boise watershed, but has not released any details about what this would look like in Kuna.

Sen. Jim Rice

Rice has a law practice in Caldwell and is the Chair of the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee. He also sits on the Senate Transportation Committee.

Rice was originally appointed to the Idaho Senate and says the issues that drew him to public office include protecting private property, the second amendment and keeping taxes low.

He's running for his seventh term and if he's re-elected Rice said he'll also prioritize property tax relief, but he'll also focus on water and drought, property rights, and term limits for Congress.

"If your income goes down, your income tax goes down, if you can change what your buying habits are and reduce the sales tax you pay, but property tax just goes up no matter what happens," Rice said.

To lower property taxes, he said he'll continue working with lawmakers on ideas and on proposals from the 2022 session.

Rice points to the passage of the largest tax cut in Idaho history he helped to get through the Legislature this year.

If re-elected, he says he'll continue working to pass a bill that Rice proposed during the 2022 session. It would severely restrict Idaho public schools' ability to put levies on the ballot and create a tax and levy reduction fund.

The bill did not get a committee hearing during the 2022 session.

"The other thing we've been talking about, ways to take most of the property tax off of people's homes and that's really something that will be a game-changer if we can get it done," Rice said.

He said the reason a broader solution to rising property taxes hasn't been passed yet is because the popular ideas don't always work.

"You need a solution that's not going to jack up the prices on renting at the same time you deal with the problems for homeowners," he said.

On relieving the effects of the drought, Rice said the state needs to continue to work on increasing water storage.

"We've been working on a number of ways," he said. "We've done a lot more with recharging and over-charging the water table as a way of storing water."

Rice said there are always things individuals can do to help, but the state needs to work more on groundwater recharge.

To address property rights, Rice wants to work on the Land Use Planning Act and Areas of Impact.

"We need something that tends to encourage smart growth, smart planning, water, sewer, roads, in a way that doesn't end up costing us extra in taxes as well as providing services to people and respecting their property rights," he said.