Education issues to dominate next month’s primary election

In exactly six weeks, Idaho voters will begin shaping the future of education leadership through the state’s primary election.

Although statewide offices such as governor and superintendent of public instruction are not on the ballot this year, all 105 state lawmakers’ terms expire this year. And Republicans and Democrats alike head to the polls on the same day.

This year, there is plenty at stake for the Legislature’s two education committees and the budget-setting Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee.

The House Education Committee will already be under new leadership next year because Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, is not seeking reelection. On top of that, five of the committee’s 15 remaining members face contested spring primary elections.

Those races include:

  • Rep. Paul Shepherd, R-Riggins, vs. Kris L. Steneck, R-Elk City.
  • Rep. Ryan Kerby, R- New Plymouth, vs. Jake Stephens. R-Caldwell.
  • Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, vs. Michael Dolton, R-New Plymouth.
  • Rep. Patrick McDonald, R-Boise, vs. former Sen. Rod W. Beck, R-Boise.
  • Rep. Rich Wills, R-Glenns Ferry, vs. Christy Zito, R-Hammett.

In the budget arena, both JFAC co-chairs face contested primaries, as do three others on the 20-member committee.

Those races include:

  • Co-chairwoman Shawn Keough, R-Coeur d’Alene, vs. Glenn Rohrer, R-Priest River.
  • Co-chairwoman Maxine Bell vs. Reggy A. Sternes, both R-Jerome.
  • Rep. Luke Malek vs. Arthur B. Macomber, both R-Coeur d’Alene.
  • Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, vs. Carl G. Crabtree, R-Grangeville.
  • Rep. Wendy Horman vs. Randy Neal, both R-Idaho Falls.

Finally, Sen. Lori Den Hartog, a Meridian Republican sitting on the Senate Education Committee, faces challenges from Kuna Republicans Charles Pratt Porter and Robert “Ernie” Terrell in a three-candidate race to claim the GOP nomination in District 22.

Beginning next week, Idaho Education News will highlight contested primary races with education implications. We will share a list of races to watch, pose questionnaires to the candidates and write profiles deigned to introduce you to who is running for office in your area.

As we get closer to Election Day, we will also share a list of voting tips to help make your trip to the polls more efficient.

In the meantime, you can quickly hop online to double-check whether you are registered to vote and brush up on the location of your polling place.

We also would like to hear from you. Are there other races you are interested in or questions you would like us to ask the candidates? Let us know via email, and check back regularly for our updated campaign coverage.