By Zach Hagadone
Idaho’s Legislative District 1 has two new challengers, with Democrats Karen Matthee and Kathryn Larson joining the race for Seats A and B, respectively.
Rep. Mark Sauter, R-Sandpoint, currently holds Seat 1A and has already announced that he will seek a second term. Meanwhile, Rep. Sage Dixon, R-Ponderay, has served five terms in Seat 1B — including as assistant majority leader — though has not officially indicated whether he will run again in the May 21 GOP primary.
Mathee and Larson both announced their candidacies on Feb. 5 and will formally kick off their campaigns with an event Monday, Feb. 12 hosted by Bonner County Democratic Women at Evans Brothers Coffee (524 Church St., in Sandpoint) from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Mathee is a former journalist, having worked for newspapers, magazines and public radio in California, Texas and Washington, and holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University.
She relocated to Sandpoint from Enumclaw, Wash. with her partner Mike, whose two sons grew up in the community.
“I am proud to be running as a Democrat, to be a member of a party that helps rural communities like ours with critical needs like infrastructure and expanded internet access; a party that cares about all people, including our most vulnerable citizens: pregnant women and children, the elderly and disabled, and the mentally ill — because they are the ones who most need our support,” Mathee wrote in her announcement.
On her website — kmattheeforidaho.com — Mathee states that she stands for “lowering the cost of living, access to affordable health care for all and fixing or replacing aging school facilities.”
Highlighting her past career in news reporting, Matthee’s campaign wrote that “she is well positioned to provide something that Idahoans badly need at the moment — the ability to listen to people on both sides of an issue.”
“If my career taught me anything at all, it taught me the importance of striving as much as humanly possible for objectivity and balance,” she stated. “It taught me that rarely are things black and white, right or wrong. More often than not, there’s a gray zone — and that’s where we can build bridges, that’s where we can fill the policy gaps.”
Mathee also supports raising the minimum wage, funding child care in order to address the labor shortage in Idaho, and also “fixing a tax system that disproportionately burdens families with the lowest incomes and rejecting repeated attempts to dismantle Medicaid expansion,” her campaign stated.
Kathryn Larson comes from a background in education, technology and corporate training, including a position with McKinsey & Company. She came to North Idaho due to her husband’s parents, who are in their 90s and raised their own family in Spokane. Larson and her husband brought their children to the area for vacations, bought property here in 2012 and retired to the community in 2015.
If elected, Larson promises to bring moderation to the District 1B seat.
“In state government, there is a disturbing trend to shift the financial burden to the county and city taxpayers. We’re seeing more lawsuits that taxpayers fund. And, instead of focusing on local issues, our representatives are dramatizing culture war issues,” she stated in her announcement. “As a citizen with experience in complex problem solving, I feel a duty to step up and offer to serve. I hope to change the conversation and reduce the drama.”
Larson’s campaign identified her top issues as “local focus, freedom and an economy that works for everyone.”
“We have real opportunities for economic prosperity. We have bountiful resources to protect. And, we have difficult challenges in our rural District 1,” Larson stated. “Yet, our representatives are busy layering inappropriate state government oversight and writing laws that bypass our local authority entirely. It doesn’t make sense. It’s time for a change.”
For more information, visit kathrynlarsonforidaho.com.
Local singer-songwriter Mike Wagoner will provide music at the Feb. 12 campaign kickoff event, which will include a brief speech from Mathee and Larson, followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience.
The deadline for candidates to file for the 2024 primary is Friday, March 15 — which is also the final day for voters to change their political party affiliation or become “unaffiliated.”
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