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The race for District 22 House Seat A, two incumbents and a Democratic seek election

Posted at 5:26 PM, May 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-17 18:06:20-04

IDAHO — Primary Election Day is just around the corner, where the results decide which District 22 Republican incumbent will go against the race's lone Democrat in November.

South of the I-84 lies District 22, with three candidates running for House Seat A:

  • Rep. John Vander Woude — R, Nampa  
  • Rep. Greg Ferch – R, Boise 
  • Natalie MacLachlan – D 

Earlier this year, the statewide redistricting process redrew the boundaries of District 22, pushing Vander Woude and Ferch into the same district. The legislative area now ranges from the Canyon County border to Cole Road.

Rep. John Vander Woude

Rep. John Vander Woude, a former dairyman and business owner, is running for his seventh term in the Idaho House.

First serving from 2006 to 2008, Vander Woude lost his seat in the following Republican primary by 65 votes. Two years later, he returned, beating his successor after the 2010 statewide redistricting process. Vander Woude has also served in several agriculture-related positions on the Nampa Christian School Board and the Kuna Boys and Girls Club board.

If reelected, his top three priorities would be:

  • Lowering property taxes 
  • Getting rid of grocery taxes  
  • Reviewing the efficacy of pandemic policies  

Vander Woude, a House Health and Welfare Committee member, said the legislature should "look back" at COVID-19 measures to see "what we did right and what we did wrong." He pointed to isolations, lockdowns, hospital visitation restrictions, school shutdowns and mask mandates as items of concern.

"I just think we've done a lot more damage than we realized," Vander Woude said. "I want to take a good close look and say, 'OK, this worked, that didn't work, what works, what doesn't,' and let's correct it, so we don't make those same mistakes again."

Related: Idaho Senate passes statement against federal vaccine mandates, waits on other COVID-19 bills

Property taxes are a long-running conversation in the Idaho legislature. However, Vander Woude feels it has taken a back seat – noting how proposals often come up toward the end of the session and fail to get passed. He said lawmakers should develop multiyear plans that work toward an end goal. Vander Woude believes the lack of long-term policy is caused by legislators getting caught up in their two-year terms.

"I think we need to have a better plan in the beginning. I don't like waiting until the end to do tax policy," Vander Woude said. "That's not good planning."

Idaho currently collects sales tax on groceries that can be returned as an annual credit of about $120 per person at tax time to offset those costs. Among many other lawmakers this session, Vander Woude opposed the state's 6% grocery tax and wanted it removed.

"That's not good, in my opinion, good Republican philosophy that you collect a tax and they you pay it back," he said. "Well, why do you want to collect it then?"

Related: Grocery tax credit bill passes house, heads to senate

Watch the full interview here:

John Vander Woude

Rep. Greg Ferch

Rep. Greg Ferch is running for his second term in the Idaho House of Representatives.

A former Army medic and Desert Storm veteran, Ferch currently owns a chiropractic practice in Boise. With the retirement of Republican Rep. Fred Wood from Burley, Ferch is one of the few lawmakers left in the legislature with a health background.

"It looks like I might be kind of the last man standing when it comes to a significant science/clinical background," Ferch said. "I want to continue that conversation."

If reelected, his top three priorities would be:

  • Creating a more balanced tax system 
  • Preserving Idaho values 
  • Using his medical knowledge to develop holistic health policies 

Reflecting on his first term, Ferch, a House Health and Welfare Committee member, said he was one of the few representatives supporting vitamin D and nutrition as a combatant of COVID-19. He said more policies should reflect nutritional messaging rather than pandemic practices, which Ferch said: "seemed to be void of that."

"We're getting corroborating evidence that actual nutritional status makes a huge difference on the morbidity and mortality of COVID," Ferch said. "We've known that for decades with every other upper respiratory tract infection. Nonetheless, now we have proof that what we were talking about and those conversations we started are coming to fruition."

Related: Senate State Affairs Committee holds three COVID-19 vaccine bills

In conversations with Gem State natives and new residents, Ferch said he has heard many are attracted to the ideals and values Idahoans hold on "freedom."

"The freedom to choose your own health care procedures. The freedom to choose the house you want to live in, the cars you want to drive and not be dictated (or) threatened with firing because you choose against a health care procedure seems to be very valuable and important aspects for people," he said. "I'm a big proponent of those individual rights and being able to have dominion over your own body and decision process."

Related: Idaho lawmakers meet Wednesday to discuss vaccine requirements

Watch the full interview here:

Greg Ferch

Natalie MacLachlan

Natalie MacLachlan, the running for District 22 House Seat A, is a lifelong Treasure Valley resident. A theater and art teacher, MacLachlan said rapid growth in the Treasure Valley and recent negativity toward K-12 public education was what sparked her campaign.

"I'm really passionate about education, but housing goes right along with that," she said. "Our families are really struggling. Then these kids, as they grow into young adults, are struggling to find a place to live."

In elected, her top priorities would be:

  • Investing more money in education and infrastructure 
  • Getting growth to pay for itself by addressing Idaho's housing crisis and rising property taxes 

Most issues impacting the Treasure Valley "are related," MacLachlan said. Things like housing, education, property taxes, and general growth are "everyday" problems she wants the legislature to focus on.

"As this growth is happening, our house valuations are increasing. This means our property taxes are increasing and that people are less likely to pass bonds and levies for schools. But we need more schools because we have more people coming in," MacLachlan said. "We need to break them down and assess all the different angles that we need to problem-solve."

Related: Boise approves $6.5 million in rental assistance

She said that creating more affordable housing, funding the state's Housing Trust Fund, and better-utilizing impact fees are three potential solutions.

MacLachlan also stressed a need to "end the attacks on public education," Her teaching background could benefit this effort.

Idaho lawmakers approved a 6.7% increase in funding for K-12 public education this legislative session – to $2.3 billion. Still, MacLachlan said more is needed – nodding to a recent National Education Association report that ranked Idaho dead-last in state funding for education.

"In this legislative session, we did do better than last year as far as investing in education and bringing education into the conversation," she said. "But it's still behind where we need to be and where everyone else is."

Related: Ybarra's budget request for K-12 public schools presented Monday

Watch the full interview here:

Natalie MacLachlan