By Lyndsie Kiebert
Editor’s Note: Rep. Heather Scott is running for the Republican nomination for the District 1 State Representative Seat A, a seat she currently holds.
Sandpoint Reader: Tell me a little about how you ended up living in Idaho. What first brought you here?
Heather Scott: My husband and I moved here 20 years ago for a natural resource-related job. We like the rural, self-reliant lifestyle, the can-do attitude of the people who live here, and the beautiful countryside.
SR: After two terms in office, how would you say you’ve helped Idaho move in what you see as the right direction?
HS: I have kept my promises on the platform I ran on: government accountability (I have been a strong advocate for the three branches of Idaho government to follow our state and federal constitutions); and more transparency in government (I have worked hard to educate and engage citizens on the importance of their involvement in government through meetings, mailers, townhalls, websites, etc.).
I represent two counties in Idaho, and I believe the values I fight to protect line up well with the values of the majority of people in my district: limited, bottom-up government, strong local and state sovereignty over heavy-handed federal encroachment and exposure of crony capitalism.
I am pleased that my efforts to strengthen Second Amendment rights, which Idahoans strongly support, have resulted in securing permitless carry as well as this year’s special concealed-carry permits for retired law enforcement officers in K-12 schools and on college campuses. I have also set up a successful website to help citizens track legislative bills and see how they could affect their lives.
SR: There’s no doubt that there’s been a couple controversies while you’ve been working in the legislature, one of which briefly limited your legislative privileges. What was it like coming back from that? Do you look back with any regret, or do you stand by your comments that female lawmakers need to “spread their legs” to get ahead in the Idaho legislature?
HS: Every legislator experiences “controversies” because their lives, their statements and actions are under ongoing public scrutiny, and they are not perfect. Most legislative decisions are made in either debate-style situations or in public or both. Add to that the circus of the media who uses these opportunities to embellish, promote agendas or continually repeat issues in an effort to sell publications, often with facts overlooked and substance lacking.
As a legislator, choosing to stand for the truth is going to come with some bruises. This year has been a great productive legislative growth year for me. I know I will continue to be a target as long as I expose crony capitalism and government corruption when I see it. That’s OK, because I work for the people, not the establishment or lobbyists.
SR: Your website features a “myths” tab, where you debunk things people have said about you. One myth you have listed is that you are “unpopular in the Republican party and can’t get anything accomplished.” To debunk that myth you have several awards listed. Why do you think that myth exists in the first place?
HS: Myths are generated by individuals, organizations and some media who fear the truth, fear transparency, fear losing control over elected officials and/or want to silence the message and the messenger in pursuit of their own agendas.
The best repudiation of the particular myth you mention comes from the awards I have received over the past three years.
• 2015 Liberty Legislator of the Year, Republican Liberty Caucus
• American Legion Certificate of Appreciation for supporting John Arnold (Veteran whose guns were going to be confiscated)
• The American Conservative Union Foundation, Conservative Excellence
• 2017 Defender of Freedom Award, Idaho Freedom Project.
• I have the highest four-year-average liberty score of all 105 legislators when it comes to voting for the constitution and limited government.
• And several other awards and recognitions.
I feel blessed and humbled to have received them as a validation of my efforts and my unwavering commitment to serving the people of Idaho and standing up for liberty and the constitution.
SR: Some people see you as associated with the Redoubt movement. Would you consider that accurate? Why or why not?
HS: I try not to put people in boxes or label them. I look at people as individuals rather than the collective.
I would love to know the Reader’s definition of the “Redoubt Movement.” If it means standing for and supporting individual freedoms over collective freedoms, limited government over bloated government and advocating for common sense and responsibility over an entitlement mentality, then you can label it whatever you choose, because those are the people to whom I relate well and vice versa.
SR: If elected to a third term, what are the top three issues you will be focusing on?
HS: • Ensuring District 1 residents have a seat and a voice at the table when decisions are being made about the Hi-Test smelter.
• Ensuring District 1 is properly represented and defended in the pending water adjudication process for Bonner and Boundary Counties.
• Pursuing more transparency in government and working to reduce regulations and taxation through the legislative process. Boise appears to have better roads, nicer schools and better connections when it comes to state grants and opportunities. North Idahoans pay just as much in taxes and deserve the same benefits.
SR: Recently you sponsored a bill that would force school districts to wait a year after a failed bond issue before running another one. Some opponents of this bill claim it may do harm to school districts, especially those facing potential emergencies such as a collapsed roof or fire. Others claim it limits local control over this issue. With Idaho already ranking near the bottom in the nation for school spending, is this bill intended to further weaken public education in Idaho? Why?
HS: First, to clarify, the legislation is for any taxing district, not just schools.
The number of taxpayers who have come to legislators asking for relief from the relentless serial levy and bond voting is huge. It is straining an already over-taxed public.
This bill would not eliminate or put a ceiling on levy funds that taxing districts can ask for; however, it will put the burden on the taxing districts to do their homework and provide factual, transparent information to voters and prioritize a taxing district’s needs. I and other legislators believe that in the long run it will build better, more positive and open relationships between taxing districts, taxpayers and communities. It will also put pressure on legislators to find real solutions to funding public schools as required by our Constitution instead of saddling the already overburdened taxpayer with levies.
My bill passed the House Committee and the House floor vote, showing that its merits are recognized, but has been held by a committee chairman in the Senate, which is typical establishment behavior and diminishes citizen voices.
SR: This is very much a divided time in America. For your part, how will you help heal the division if elected? Will you serve all of your constituents equally?
HS: Locally, an issue that has the potential for uniting North Idaho is the proposed silicon smelter. I believe most North Idahoans want to protect our way of life and the environment we call home while bringing jobs to our area.
“A divided time in America,” to use your term, is not unique to our time. Unfortunately, certain media sources want Americans to believe that, but we are seeing evidence that people aren’t as divided as the media touts. With the election of President Trump and the incredible, positive impact he has had on our economy and reducing the federal government’s overreach, many Americans are gaining hope for a brighter future. This easing of anxieties at the national level is now allowing Americans to focus on, and get involved with, government at the state and local level, and I welcome that.
I look forward to a new Idaho governor and the promises that will bring in 2019. With Idaho now the fastest growing state in the Union – something I believe is due to not only to the beauty of our state but our culture of self-sufficiency and can-do spirit – we have many issues to tackle to keep the strong rural and rugged flavor of Idaho intact while embracing cultural and social changes sure to come with the influx of new residents. I am confident that I and other legislators who value freedom, individual rights and protecting families will always find common ground with those we represent.
Heather Scott AT A GLANCE:
AGE: Almost 50!
BIRTHPLACE AND RESIDENCE: Born in Ohio, residence in Blanchard, Idaho.
GOVERNMENT SERVICE: State Representative, Idaho House of Representatives.
PROFESSION: Aquatic Biologist.
EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science in Biology.
FAMILY: Andrew Scott, husband.
FUN FACT: I love to snorkel and scuba dive.