(UDPATE: This story was corrected to reflect that former U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth was the first Republican woman to represent Idaho in Congress. Former U.S. Rep. Gracie Pfost was the first woman to represent Idaho in Congress.)
A former police officer with 20 years of law enforcement experience is challenging Rep. Judy Boyle in the race for House Seat B in District 9.
Michael Dolton, a U.S. Air Force veteran who served as the former chief of police in New Plymouth and worked with the Oregon State Police, said economic development and transportation issues are his top priorities.
“We have nothing if we don’t have a transportation system and we’re still backlogged heavily on roads and bridges,” Dolton said. “We’ve got to get our kids to school and get our products to market for economic development and new tax dollars.”
Dolton, who has also worked in economic development and tourism in the Magic Valley, said he was recruited by a diverse group of constituents and business owners to challenge Boyle. Dolton is particularly critical of the two trips Boyle took during the most recent legislative session to visit the armed occupiers at the wildlife refugee outside Burns, Ore.
“People around here are upset about that,” Dolton said.
Boyle, who has experience with agriculture and county planning and zoning issues, originally developed an interest in government service when she was 5. She used to attend U.S. Forest Service and county commission meetings in Northern California with her grandfather.
In Idaho, Boyle was inspired by working on campaigns for former U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth — the first Republican woman to represent Idaho in Congress.
If she is re-elected, Boyle said a top priority for next year would be working with Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra to launch a cooperative rural schools center.
“Small rural schools absolutely don’t have the time or staffs to really dig into things,” Boyle said. “I think this will be huge money-saver for districts.”
Boyle was also a champion of the permit-less carry law passed by this year’s Legislature.
The winner of the May 17 Republican Primary faces Parma Democrat R.T. Loyd in November’s general election.
Republican Primary: District 9, House Seat B
Incumbent Rep. Judy Boyle
Challenger Michael Dolton
How long have you lived in your district?
Boyle: Moved to Mann Creek in 1976 with her family. Moved to her current home in 1990.
Dolton: Born and raised outside New Plymouth. Returned home in 2003.
Boyle: Attended community college in Susanville, Calif.
Dolton: Bachelor’s degree in public and criminal administration from Boise State University.
Boyle: Served four terms in the Idaho House. First elected 2008. Appointed to Washington County Planning and Zoning Commission in 1994. Worked for former U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth, R-Idaho.
Dolton: Never held elected office. Ran unsuccessfully for position of Payette County sheriff in 1980.
Who can vote: Registered voters within Legislative District 9, which includes portions of Adams, Payette, Washington and Canyon counties.
Primary Election date: May 17.
Education connection: Boyle is a member of the House Education Committee. Dolton’s daughter is an educator in Fruitland.
Candidates ‘ questionnaire responses
Do you support the 2016-17 public school budget passed by the Legislature this year? Why or why not?
Boyle: “Yes. We finally had enough money where we could catch up with all the education funding we had to cut so drastically back in 2009. By restoring the operational funding, the discretionary funding to the districts, we are all hopeful that will ease some of the need for supplemental levies that is always coming up. In a way, if it’s successful that’s property tax relief. It’s absolutely the same way with the career ladder, which should also take pressure off supplemental levies for teacher salaries.”
Dolton: “We got back to 2008 levels, but we need to do more as we can afford it because our kids are No 1. We need to keep funding education. My daughter is a teacher/counselor at Fruitland. I find teachers very, very dedicated. Right here, across the Oregon border, they pay more money and we are losing our teachers. I think we need more funding, and I will use this example. My daughter spent her own money last year on her classroom and getting all of the things they needed. Every year, teachers I talked to decorate their own classrooms and we need to get those salaries up and need to focus more on education.”
Explain why you support or oppose implementing all of Gov. Butch Otter’s Task Force for Improving Education recommendations over the next three years.
Boyle:“That’s what our school innovation bill is — task force recommendation No. 6. That’s one that we saw no one doing anything with and said ‘Gosh we can pick that up.’ One thing I’m really excited about that we did this year was literacy for the little kids, which is recommendation No. 3. Again, that goes back to my 4-H days. I think it is absolutely vital to be a priority and focal point. If you can’t read, you’re not going to make it in life.”
Dolton: “I cant quote all 20 of those (recommendations), but I read that. I certainly believe in what the task force came up with and we need to pursue that as much as we can afford. But we’ve got to be able to afford it too. Hopefully, that will come again with the economy, developing new jobs, new businesses and increasing the tax base. But it’s not solely an Idaho problem as far as infrastructure and education go.”
State leaders are promoting a goal of having 60 percent of the Idaho’s young adults hold a postsecondary degree or certificate by the year 2020. What is your position on this goal?
Boyle: “I don’t know that we’re going to get there by 2020. I think we were focusing on the wrong end of the spectrum. Again, I go back to the young kids and the literacy thing. We have to be able to make sure they are successful in elementary school to build up to success in middle school and high school so they are comfortable going on to college. I love the dual credit thing but, again, there are still schools that don’t really push that or offer it much. That is a huge saving for parent to have the state pay for those dual credits — you can get two years of school paid for by the state.”
Dolton: “I’m 100 percent in favor of that. What we need to do is encourage going on to higher education, whether it’s a technical certificate in welding, electrician, pluming or a degree in the field of their choosing. I’m 100 percent in favor of that. We have to just keep at it in order to reach it.”
This year the Idaho Legislature passed two bills and set aside $9.1 million in new funding in an attempt to improve the literacy rates of students in grades kindergarten through third grade. Do you support or oppose this plan?
Boyle: “I couldn’t imagine what you would miss out on in life if you’re unable to read. Sherri Ybarra’s expertise is as a reading specialist. She knows exactly what kids need to be successful in reading. So when the first literacy bill came out a bunch of us — you know how conservative the House Education Committee is — said that is too much money. I’m like ‘Guys, this is reading. Are you kidding?’ I asked Sherri to come meet with us and she had a few things we needed to put in the bill to make it so we can effectively use this money and it made a world of difference.”
Dolton: “Literacy, I agree with that. We’ve got a little bit of a problem with that, and the governor is trying to solve that. It’s an attainable goal, you bet 100 percent.”