2022 Primary Election Candidate Questionnaire: Legislative District 1

By Reader Staff

Ahead of the Tuesday, May 17 primary election, the Reader is presenting a limited series of election guides featuring questions and answers with candidates for a range of state and local offices.

This week focuses on candidates running in contested races for Idaho Senate District 1 and Idaho House District 1A and 1B seats. 

Save the date Tuesday, May 3 at 5:30 p.m. for a forum featuring Legislative District 1 candidates at the Sandpoint High School Auditorium (410 S. Division St.). Virtual attendance will also be offered via Zoom. The forum will be presented by the Reader, sandpointonline.com and KRFY 88.5 FM.

Only contested primary races will be featured in the candidate questionnaires. For more information on candidates — including those running unopposed — in the primary election, visit Election Central on sandpointonline.com.

A guide published in the April 14 edition of the Reader featured questions and answers with candidates for Bonner County commissioner Districts 2 and 3, and Bonner County assessor. Find it at sandpointreader.com.

For all other election-related information, visit Bonner County Elections at bonnercountyid.gov.

Idaho Senate District 1 — Republican


1. Why are you running for the Idaho Legislature?

2. What would be your top three priorities if elected?

3. What do you see as the No. 1 challenge facing District 1, and how do you propose to address it?

4. How do you propose Idaho’s historic budget surplus should (or shouldn’t) be spent? Why?

Scott Herndon

Age: 54.

Scott Herndon.

Birthplace and residence: Richmond, Va.; Sagle, Idaho.

How many years lived in Bonner County: 18.

Government/relevant service: Worked for Los Angeles County Office of Education and U.C. Berkeley for a combined 4.5 years.

Profession: Home builder.

Education: B.S., Finance, Arizona State University, 1989.

Family: Married 24 years to Arlene and eight children together — seven still living with us in Sagle.

1. To help ensure that government remains limited, and serves the interest of the people, not itself. I will fight D.C. and Boise encroachment on the lives of Idahoans and ensure COVID-era tyranny never hits Idaho again. I value individual liberty, including your right to govern your own families, churches and businesses. State and federal constitutions recognize the rights of individuals to self-govern.

I will uphold the constitutional authority of the state of Idaho in relation to the federal government. I will craft policy that enforces the boundaries between the several branches of government.

2. 1. Balance of power to the judiciary. Idaho should find a way to counter judicial activism.

2. The tax system. Our current complex system of “income” taxes, sales taxes, property taxes and other fees should be replaced by a first-use consumption tax to simplify the tax system.

3. The state’s balance of power with the federal government. Currently 42% of Idaho state “revenues” are federal government inflows to the state budget, much of it national debt. Additionally, the federal government runs programs through the state’s management for which the federal government is not constitutionally authorized.

3. Inflation and a dysfunctional supply chain. The source is both the federal and state government’s reaction to COVID-19 in their business shutdown orders and the liberal monetary policy at the federal level in giving away trillions of dollars in stimulus. Since Congress and the Federal Reserve have exhibited no fiscal responsibility, Idaho’s Legislature should consider refusing all national debt financed cash inflows from the federal government. Over $2 billion of federal inflows to the Idaho budget are borrowed against future generations of Americans. The Legislature will need to start voting “no” to the budgets that contain this taxpayer debt.

4. Even though Idaho is reporting a budget surplus, $6 billion of Idaho’s $14 billion budget last year was federal dollars transferred into the Idaho government and treated as “Revenues” on the Idaho Comprehensive Financial Report. At least $2.58 billion of that federal $6 billion was borrowed against future generations of Americans and is part of the over $30 trillion national debt. Looking at the big picture, there is no actual net surplus in Idaho to the Idaho taxpayer. There is actually a slight net budget deficit in Idaho when considering the federal debt financed “revenues” on Idaho’s financial reports.

Jim Woodward (incumbent)

Age: 51.

Jim Woodward.

Birthplace: Anacortes, Wash. My family returned to Sandpoint by the time I was 3.

How many years lived in Bonner County: 26 years in Bonner County/11 years in Boundary County.

Government/relevant service: Four years as the Legislative District 1 state senator, Northern Lights director for eight years, Sagle Fire District commissioner for four years, seven years of active Navy service as a nuclear power trained submarine officer, 14 years of reserve Navy service.

Profession: Small business owner providing excavation and dock building services.

Education: B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, University of Idaho.

Family: Brenda and I have been married for 28 years now. We have two children.

1. I value the Idaho that I grew up in and I want to preserve it for future generations. Idaho is full of great people who value their independence and freedoms. Maintaining those freedoms comes through stable, transparent government with participation by all. As an Idahoan with a military background and now as a small business owner, I believe I provide state-level public policy decision-making for the long-term health of our state.

2. Education and transportation are two primary duties of state government. I will continue to focus on both areas, transferring the cost of our education system to the state budget instead of local property taxes and bringing projects like the Lakeshore intersection up the priority list. Serving on the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, as I have for four years now, is key to these efforts. We have a balanced budget in Idaho, set by JFAC each year, which is a significant contributor to the stability of our state economy.

3. I believe growth is the No. 1 challenge in District 1 and throughout Idaho because of our stability and our values. The result is a local economy with ever-rising housing prices while at the same time we are seeing nationwide inflation. This year we cut the income tax rate for future years and you will see a rebate from your 2020 state income taxes. I also supported the grocery tax credit increase, which now allows a family of four to purchase $8,000 of groceries tax free annually. There is no simple answer to growing pains, but traditional Idaho conservative and consistent policy will keep us on the correct path forward.

4. Idaho’s tax revenues that were much greater than anticipated were budgeted in the old-school, farm-family way this year. We invested in the future with transportation funding to improve existing roads and accommodate growth. We also invested in Idaho’s education system, the building block of our society. Emergency responders from across the state will benefit from funding for communications systems and additional support to combat narcotics trafficking coming across our southern U.S. border and very much affecting Idaho. The tax rebate mentioned above was part of the overall budget package, as well as putting money in our rainy-day funds. We did it the Idaho way and I think it is something we can all be proud of.

Idaho House — Republican — DISTRICT 1A

Spencer Hutchings

Age: 52. 

Spencer Hutchings.

Birthplace and residence: California, Sagle. 

How many years lived in Bonner County: 9. 

Government/relevant service: Proud and loyal U.S. citizen. 

Profession: Business owner. 

Education: One year of college. 

Family: Wife and daughter. 

1. Idaho has experienced unprecedented government overreach during the past two years, and the threat of more of the same continues. A government that perpetrated this on its citizens while shirking any notion of accountability is not my idea of a promising future. I decided to get proactive, work for changes at the state level and begin the process to retake our freedoms from those who have robbed us of them. I will do so by shining a light on wrongs when I see them, and I will stand for what is in the best interest of citizens and support our Constitution.

2. 1. Short-term, I will work to eliminate CRT, sexual orientation-related and politically motivated education from taxpayer-funded schools. These topics have fostered a divisive atmosphere that has permeated all levels of the school system. Such topics are inappropriate for children and do nothing to prepare them for a  productive role in society. 

2. I believe in reducing the size of government, every citizen’s tax burden and the number of regulations. As we have seen in these past two years, even when state coffers are overflowing, no serious effort was made to eliminate or reduce taxes, for instance, the grocery tax, nor trim back business-stifling regulations. 

3. Taking back Idaho lands from the federal government.

3. The leftist indoctrination of our children in government schools. Let’s start by returning prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and teaching the Constitution and Bill of Rights, as written, to the classroom. One indication of the failure of our schools is that they graduate students with no foundational knowledge in civics education, this seriously undermines their future engagement in government. Furthermore, all time spent on  leftist indoctrination is time taken away from useful education topics our children need to be successful in life.

4. The job of state and local government is not to grift from the citizenry as much as the citizenry can bear and then figure out ways to spend it. Government should be extraordinarily careful in determining the level  and kind of taxation and spend those funds on only necessary — not nice-to-have — services. Roads, critical infrastructure and law enforcement funding are examples of reasonable, well-spent funds. Any surplus should be returned to taxpayers, with interest.

Adam Rorick

Age: 56.

Adam Rorick.

Birthplace and residence: Portland, Ore.; Sagle, Idaho.

How many years lived in Bonner County: Several years as a part-time resident, but made the move permanent in March 2021 (13 months).

Government/relevant service: Retired senior deputy sheriff — 26 ½ years.

Profession: Retired deputy sheriff.

Education: Some college, high-school diploma.

Family: Married 28 years (almost 29) with two adult children.

1. I am running because I have seen firsthand how the left’s socialist, tax-and-spend ideology has destroyed cities and our culture. I see the same destructive, socialist policies at work here in Idaho. I took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law. When I retired from the Sheriff’s Office and moved to Sagle, I realized that I could not sit back and watch the Idaho I knew as a boy become a copy of California, Oregon and Washington. 

I will fight for Idahoans’ freedom and to eliminate the federal government’s control of Idaho’s land and natural resources, returning them to state control for use in creating new job opportunities for Idahoans and reducing the effective tax burden for many Idahoans.

2. School choice — Tax money should follow the children to their school.

Education reform — Removal of Common Core, CRT, DEI and transgender studies in our public school system, and return to a mastery of the foundational principles of reading, math, writing and civics.

Tax reduction and stabilization — Eliminate the grocery tax and reduce property taxes.

3. I am a proponent for returning control of our educational system to parents and local school boards. Parents have God-given rights. Parents should have access to all curriculum involving their children and final approval for their use. I believe educators should be held responsible for teaching subjects or textbooks contrary to the wishes of the parents and school board. The subjects currently taught, Common Core, DEI, CRT, SEL, transgender studies, etc., are not aligned with the U.S. Constitution and the founding fathers’ opinions surrounding the birth of our country or lessons found in the Bible.

4. I believe that our historic surplus should be used to eliminate the grocery tax and any surplus balance held in a reserve to establish a “rainy day” fund to buffer historic inflation and the trend toward increasing taxes and fees. I am passionate about tax reform and stabilization. I will work toward eliminating the grocery tax and reducing volatility in the property tax rates for homeowners. Migration from other states has caused property taxes for homeowners to substantially increase. I am a proponent for freezing property tax increases for homeowners on a fixed income in order to reduce the risk to Idahoans who are retired, on Social Security or otherwise unable to work due to a disability. The rampant property tax increases must be addressed before vulnerable homeowners are taxed out of their homes.

Mark Sauter

Age: 64.

Mark Sauter.

Birthplace and residence: Born in Downey, Calif. Live in a rural area of Dover now.

How many years lived in Bonner County: Since 2012.

Government/relevant service: 30 years in fire service (eight years as fire chief), three years in city government before retirement.

Profession: Currently assisting with administrative projects for Selkirk Fire District.

Education: Undergraduate degree in Fire Administration. Master’s degree in Public Administration. 

Family: Two adult children (a deputy county prosecutor and a Navy pilot). 

1. I have worked in public service all of my adult life. I want to continue to serve our District. I have the time, experience, knowledge and leadership ability to represent our citizens. 

2. Job growth — We need to hold our regulations down and give employers the freedom to create jobs. We need to support Idaho businesses with the infrastructure they need to flourish. By standing up for water resources and supporting agriculture, timber, manufacturing and tech businesses, we will keep them competitive and productive. We also need to ensure our education system is providing the necessary training for students to advance into good jobs and careers. 

Community safety — We need to support our law enforcement, fire service and EMS community with the tools they need to provide services. We also need to protect our Second Amendment rights. I will support efforts to secure our southern border and reduce the negative impacts of border issues. 

Improve the fairness of our tax system — We need to take a comprehensive look at our tax system. Residents are consistently bringing property and grocery tax issues to my attention. Many Idaho families and property owners are struggling with the tax burdens they face. As your representative I will do what I can to reduce our property and grocery taxes. 

3. Responsible representation. We have many different opinions regarding the state of our District. We are experiencing considerable population growth. Our public services and infrastructure systems are strained. We need to focus on what we agree on (community needs, foundation for residents and business, public safety) and work on those issues. The U.S. and Idaho Constitutions serve as our guiding documents. We need to stay within them and determine the best decisions for our District. By regularly communicating (and listening) to the citizens, business owners and service providers of the District, I will be best positioned to represent their needs and priorities.

4. The allocation of our record budget surplus has been made and signed into law. The Legislature rebated funds to the taxpayers, paid down state debts, invested in rebuilding infrastructure, committed to replacing some old facilities, saved funds for a rainy day and funded many one-time projects. I believe the choices made by the Legislature were prudent. Returning some of the revenue is appropriate, paying down debt saves money, investing in our future is responsible and being prepared for changes in our fiscal status is wise.

Cynthia Weiss

Age: 70.

Cynthia Weiss.

Birthplace and residence: Berwyn, Ill.; rural Bonner County, Sandpoint.

How many years lived in Bonner County: 5 years, since leaving Ada County, Idaho in 2017.

Government/relevant service: Never run before. Served “We The People” behind the scenes in Idaho government for 10+ years; served state and U.S. candidates elected in Illinois, Michigan, Hawaii, Oregon and Idaho.

Profession: Unofficially retired, but still researching and writing combination textbooks/journals; taught 50+ years in grades pre-K-12; taught gifted/talented public school teachers (K-12) at Boise State University, Summer Continuing Education week-long course.

Education: University of Michigan, B.A., majors in biology/pre-med and French, minors in teaching/poli-sci/American history; National Louis University, M.A. in teaching, summa cum laude; University of Baltimore Law School, ad hoc student for international aviation law.

Family: Married to William for 26 years; grown children living in three states Scott, Lara and William; 11 grandchildren; “empty nesters” with dogs Nikko and Arabella, and 42 hens.

1. Idaho is in serious trouble! Luckily, I’m an optimistic proven leader, with solutions and experience getting the job done. I’m a patriot! My character was molded by parents who taught me that when I see a problem, I must find a solution and fix it. To restore Idaho’s sovereignty, first we must restore the Constitution of the United States through Article V Convention of States. (I have 52 years experience studying the Constitution.) It’s the only way “We The People” can stop government overreach! 

2. 1. Keep rural Idaho rural. Stop selling our land and natural resources to foreign countries and 63% of Idaho is owned by the Federal government. Restore Idaho’s sovereignty and take it back via the Constitution. We must stop selling our natural resources while Idahoans lose their homes.

2. Repeal these taxes: property and estate, gasoline, food and medicine, and replace them with a consumption tax. If wealthy elitists want to live here, their inflation of our real estate taxes causes Idahoans to have rising taxes. Many are losing their lands, family homes and the next generation of Idaho youth.

3. Parents’ rights must be restored immediately. It’s about our constitutional rights to make all decisions for our children. Support education to keep northern Idaho youth in northern Idaho, not forced to leave to get vocational training.

3. Unite Idaho’s greatest resources: “We The People” and our nature- and God-given natural resources. Both must be restored. Individual freedoms must and can only be restored by a grassroots effort of “We The People” standing united! My 21st-century education system provides real school choice and a voucher system created, tested and refined for Idaho for 2023. No more empty words and promises.

4. Determine what Idaho needs for inflation emergencies, give veterans the care they need and prorate the rest to every Idahoan who paid property taxes in 2021. Shrink the budget and get rid of all the agencies that are not overseen by the Legislature. It’s only a surplus because we got it by overtaxing “We The People” and by the federal government taxing us beyond what’s needed to provide for the national defense. Close our borders, protect the Republic and fund our public schools. 

Forty percent of our “surplus” we got from the feds, with strings attached. The federal government exists for the military and veterans protecting national borders, and guaranteeing the original, perfect Constitution will remain.

Travis Thompson — did not participate.

Idaho House — Democrat — DISTRICT 1A

Sage Dixon (incumbent)

Age: 52. 

Sage Dixon.

Birthplace and residence: Born Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio; reside in the Samuels area. 

How many years lived in Bonner County: Have lived in Bonner County 19 years. 

Government/relevant experience: I have served as a representative for eight years. 

Profession: I work in financial services. 

Education: San Jose State University. 

Family: Wife and 7 children. 

1. I am running because constituents continue to ask me to serve, and I feel my  conservative values still accurately represent the interests of District 1. 

2. Property taxes: Increasing home values and tax levies are placing a large burden upon many Idahoans, and especially those on fixed incomes. Amending our state constitution to allow for similar parcels to be assessed differently, or doing away with property taxes altogether, are two possible solutions that would make an immediate impact. There are also a host of other ideas that can be discussed in order to improve this issue. 

Federal overreach: Preventing the federal government from acting beyond its scope of constitutional authority within Idaho is a growing necessity. Also, the ongoing influence of federal dollars that drive policy in our state needs to be made clearer so legislators can make more informed decisions about whether or not the required actions are worth the dollars being offered. 

Managing our Natural Resources: Continuing to ensure Idaho has a strong voice in determining natural resource policy within the state is critical. Encouraging programs like the Good Neighbor Authority and the Shared Stewardship Board, will help to mitigate wildfire risk, increase access to public lands, and protect our lakes and rivers.

3. The increasing population and the price inflation that has followed is our largest  challenge. Rising property taxes are still a concern, and our current system has many  flaws that need to be addressed. While Idaho has little responsibility for controlling  inflation, we can enact policies that encourage economic growth as well as lessen the  tax burden as much as possible, in order to ease the pain being felt by the citizens of  District 1. 

4. One of the best ways to make use of excess revenue is to return it to the people of  Idaho, which is exactly what the Legislature has done for the past two years in the form  of ongoing tax reductions, as well as a tax rebate. If our excess revenues continue,  investments in fixed infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and building maintenance,  are a wise way to defray future costs.

Todd Engel — did not participate.

There will be a candidates’ forum for legislative candidates for District 1 on Tuesday, May 3 at 5:30 p.m. at the Sandpoint High School auditorium. 

A separate candidates’ forum for Bonner County candidates will be Monday, May 2 at 5:30 p.m. at SHS.  


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