Senator Dave Lent facing Bryan Scholz in District 33
IDAHO FALLS — Incumbent Dave Lent takes on newcomer Bryan Scholz to represent District 33 in the Idaho State Senate.
To learn more about the candidate’s platform, EastIdahoNews.com asked candidates to answer the same eight questions. Their answers had to be 250 words or less.
You can find more information about Lent by clicking here.
Information about Scholz can be found on his website. Scholz did not return several requests from EastIdahoNews.com to respond to the questionnaire.
District 33 encompasses most of Idaho Falls and part of Bonneville County.
Tell us about yourself – include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any previous experience in public service.
Lent: I was born in Idaho Falls and grew up in Shelley. My wife is Terri Lent who has been teaching performing arts in Idaho Falls for 30 years. Terri and I have five children and 13 grandchildren.
I served 12 years on the District 91 School Board and helped facilitate the construction of four new elementary schools and the conversion of Clair E. Gale Junior High into a project-based high school, Compass Academy. I have a bachelor’s degree from Idaho State University and have split my career between health physics and employee training. I retired from INL as a training director for one of the contractors.
I am completing my second term in the Idaho Senate and serve as Vice Chair of the Education Committee and a member of the Joint Financial Appropriations Committee. I also serve on the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee and the Legislative Council. I was appointed by Governor Little to serve as Commissioner of the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE) and as a Fellow of the Hunt Institute.
What accomplishments are you most proud of in your personal life or career?
Lent: I am very proud of my five successful children. Other accomplishments include serving as school board president, working on critical DOE projects, consulting at nuclear power plants, and serving as bishop of my LDS ward.
Why are you a member of the Republican/Democratic/Independent/Other party? Briefly explain your political platform.
Lent: I am a Republican for the following reasons: government should not be expected to solve people’s problems, we should look to local, state and federal control in that order, a system of free enterprise should be the base of the economy, maintaining minimal taxes sustains both families and businesses, education is the surest path to self-reliance, and a strong military is the best defense. I also support the second amendment and I do not support abortion.
What are the biggest challenges facing the people of Idaho?
Lent: Our biggest challenges are keeping up with the unprecedented growth we are experiencing, evolving our education system to support a growing economy, and lowering taxes.
Our challenge with growth is paying for the infrastructure to support it. Roads, sewers and schools are expensive. This growth has been accompanied by an escalation in real estate values. These two elements combined contribute to increasing property taxes.
Our older generation, many of whom are on fixed incomes, cannot absorb the increased tax rates to keep up with this growth. Some communities have used impact fees to offset the tax increase. This is a question to which the legislator must take an interest. I think it is wrong to tax people on fixed incomes from their homes.
How will you best represent the views of your constituents, even those with different political views?
Lent: I try to respect and value the opinions and positions of all the people I serve. I have always felt comfortable in the collaborative process and believe that the best solutions come from collective thinking. I don’t believe that legislators who are strictly driven by ideology truly represent their legislative constituency.
What role do lobbying entities play in the decision-making of Idaho legislators?
Lent: I look at lobbyists as data points. They usually have a level of detail that most people don’t, however, it usually always comes from the perspective of the interests they represent and should be treated as such.
How can you encourage compromise, debate, and a bipartisan approach to introducing new legislation in Idaho?
Lent: I find that being preoccupied with ideology limits not only conversation but also the influence of a legislator. I strive to work with everyone I serve and focus my time on common interests.
What parts of the Idaho government could benefit from additional state funding? What part of Idaho’s government could be improved with funding cuts?
Lent: Serving on the Joint Financial Appropriations Committee was a revelation. Government officials who run their departments like businesses demonstrate how leadership can influence both the efficiency and effectiveness of government. For example, the Department of Transportation has a program in place to incentivize employees to implement cost-cutting and efficiency-creating measures. This saved the state millions of dollars. I support extending this approach to all state organisations.
Generally, more financing is not the solution. Creating a culture of efficiency and incentivizing government employees to be good stewards of taxpayers’ money would promote efficiency and foster trust in our publicly funded organizations.