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The Idaho Press partnered with the League of Women Voters to conduct candidate surveys for the May 19 primary. You may also search for your ballot items by address, at vote411.org. Candidates were responsible for grammar and spelling, and answers were limited to 500 characters.  

Race: Idaho State Senate District 19

Uncontested primaries

  • Republican: Aaron J. Tribble, Boise
Melissa Wintrow

Melissa Wintrow

(Candidates will face each other in the November general election.)

Q: 1. What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

Aaron J. Tribble: Candidate is unopposed in the primary and will be invited to participate in the general election.

Melissa Wintrow: I will continue to build on the relationships I have made and continue to pass legislation that focuses on the needs of everyday Idahoans. I will fight special interest groups that are working against the best interests of Idahoans, like one last session that blocked a bill I introduced to provide protection orders for sexual assault survivors and another large organization that fought against providing basic rights for tenants to protect their security deposits.

Q: 2. What experience has prepared you for this office?

Melissa Wintrow: I have served in the Idaho House for 6 years, passing significant legislation that has transformed how we process, track, and preserve sexual assault evidence; after years of hard work, Idaho’s system is being adopted nationwide. My committee assignments include Joint Finance & Appropriations, Transportation & Defense, and Judiciary & Rules. I also serve on the Governor's Criminal Justice Commission and Public Defense Commission. I, also, have a solid understanding of the state budget process.

Q: 3 What changes, if any, would you support related to state funding of public education?

Melissa Wintrow: Year after year, Idaho falls short of its constitutional duty to fund a uniform and free public education system. With the tremendous growth we are seeing, assessing new development impact fees would go a long way to make growth pay for itself instead of on the backs of long time residents. As we build homes and neighborhoods, developers could pay for the fair share of building needed new schools or expanding existing schools through appropriate impact fees.

Q: 4. What do you see as Idaho's prison system's most important needs and how would you address those?

Melissa Wintrow: Overpopulation! We need to keep people who leave prison from returning to prison by investing in effective re-entry systems and providing resources to pave the way for someone to obtain affordable housing, employment, and health care - all things that help keep people in the community and save the state money. One program I have worked on is to ensure that everyone leaving prison has a photo ID, so they can get a job.

Q: 5. What do you see as Idaho 's most important health care system needs and how would you address those?

Melissa Wintrow: Idaho ranks at the bottom for doctors per capita. We have a shortage of primary care physicians and speciality doctors. I worked with a citizen whose child was diagnosed with a rare disease. With a lack of qualified pediatric oncologists, she traveled to Portland for medical services, which is a substantial cost to the family and the state. We need to invest in medical residencies, which leads to more doctors staying in Idaho. We need to expand Telehealth to increase access to health care.

Q: 6 What changes to income, sales, and property tax policies would you support?

Melissa Wintrow: Most of us agree that we value and benefit from quality schools, emergency services, roads, and infrastructure like utilities. We need an income tax system where everyone pays their fair share and a state legislature that stops slashing taxes so we can actually provide the services we value, like education. In 2019, we started collecting internet sales tax, but diverted them from the general fund. So an estimated $80 million did not get used to support schools or fund Medicaid Expansion.

Q: 7 What measures do you support in updating Idaho's voting processes?

Melissa Wintrow: A 2014 Pew Charitable Trust study estimated 21% of the voting-eligible population in the U.S. were not registered to vote, and registration requirements contribute to lower voter turnout. I support initiatives that remove barriers to registration, like automatic voter registration and motor voter programs. I also support a permanent absentee ballot process where voters can choose to vote by mail permanently. Early voting, election day registration, and vote by mail are all things I support.

Q: 8. What are the biggest transportation priorities for Idaho in the next 20 years and how should the state prepare now to fund those projects?

Melissa Wintrow: We must create an appropriate way to fund transportation infrastructure that doesn't drain our state's general fund and includes a robust public transit system. With more electric and fuel efficient cars on the road, we need to look beyond a traditional gas tax and look at more creative solutions like user fees and local option taxes. Ada and Canyon County leaders should also consult with COMPASS, our metropolitan planning organization, for guidance and recommendations to meet regional needs.

Q: 9. Do you support local option sales tax authority for all cities and counties?

Melissa Wintrow: I support local option tax authority and transportation impact fees to fund projects like public transit, especially since the state legislature has not included public transit in its vision of transportation infrastructure. Local option tax authority puts the power in local voters' hands to make decisions that have an impact on their daily lives.

Idaho State House District 19 A

Uncontested primaries

  • Republican: Jim Feederle, Boise
Rep. Lauren Necochea

Rep. Lauren Necochea

(Candidates will face each other in the November general election.)

Q: 1. What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

Jim Feederle: Candidate is unopposed in the primary and will be invited to respond for General Election.

Lauren Necochea: I will work to make Idaho a place where everyone has the opportunity to see their hard work translate to financial security and where every child has a bright future.

I have seen the Legislature cave to special interests at the expense of Idahoans. I will be a voice for people who are marginalized in the political process. State lawmakers are shortsighted, neglecting investments that would save money down the road. I will advocate for wise investments that will allow our communities to thrive.

Q: 2. What experience has prepared you for this office?

Lauren Necochea: I spent eight years studying our state’s issues, including health care, education, child well-being, and fiscal policy. Whether I was advocating for Medicaid expansion or analyzing tax policy, I uncovered many opportunities to correct shortsighted decisions our state has made.

I had the honor of being selected for appointment to this position from a competitive field. I jumped in headfirst, proposing multiple bills in my first session. I have a B.A. in economics and a Master in Public Affairs.

Q: 3. What changes, if any, would you support related to state funding of public education?

Lauren Necochea: School funding is inadequate and inequitable. Schools need more state resources so they can stop relying on supplemental levies for basic needs. We should allow school districts to collect impact fees from developers to cover building costs.

Higher education helps Idahoans earn a family-sustaining wage and supports our economy, but tuition remains a barrier, especially for students of color. We need to increase need-based scholarships so Idahoans can get the skills they need to thrive.

Q: 4. What do you see as Idaho's prison system's most important needs and and how would you address those?

Lauren Necochea: When we invest early, we avoid costs later. Supporting the healthy development of our young children is proven to reduce involvement in the criminal justice system.

We must also help people find success after incarceration. I co-sponsored the Fair Chance Employment Act to prevent employers from disqualifying job candidates with a record before reviewing their applications. I support sentencing reform and sealing records of non-violent offenses when people go three years without recommitting.

Q: 5. What do you see as Idaho's most important healthcare system needs and how would you address those?

Lauren Necochea: The state must invest in critical services that help people live productively and independently. Some Medicaid services are inadequate. This threatens the health of our residents, particularly Idahoans with disabilities. Our behavioral health care system is fragmented and under-resourced, and we must do more to prevent suicide.

Additionally, too many children remain uninsured. Allowing more kids to enroll in CHIP would keep kids healthy and unlock federal dollars to cover most of the cost.

Q: 6. What changes to income, sales and property tax policies would you support?

Lauren Necochea: Idahoans deserve fair, responsible tax policies. I support:

- increasing the homeowner’s exemption

- increasing property tax assistance for seniors and veterans

- reversing revenue cuts that benefit top income earners and corporations and penalize some middle-class families

- making the child tax credit fully accessible to families with low to moderate wages

- reviewing unfunded mandates to local governments that push property taxes up

- reviewing business property tax exemptions

Q: 7. What measures do you support in updating Idaho's voting processes?

Lauren Necochea: We should do everything possible to increase access to the ballot. In light of the current pandemic, it is clear that mail-in ballots are an important option for voters. We should make this process as simple as possible. Idaho voters should be able to request absentee ballots online in every election, as opposed to being required to mail a form to the county clerk. I also support open primaries so that voters can participate even if they do not want to affiliate with a political party.

Q: 8. What are the biggest transportation priorities in Idaho for the next 20 years, and how should the state prepare now to fund those projects?

Lauren Necochea: We have not kept up with maintenance on our roads and bridges and are ill-prepared to meet future transportation needs.

Idaho is one of only two states that do not fund public transit. That must change to address growth and reduce congestion.

Our gas tax is not tied to inflation and must be adjusted periodically. We are overdue in making this adjustment. An increase in commercial trucking registration fees is necessary to generate revenue proportional to the wear and tear these trucks cause.

Q: 9. Do you support local option sales tax authority for all cities and counties?

Lauren Necochea: I support local option tax authority. This allows local governments to propose projects while voters make the ultimate decision. Cities and counties need this tool to drive investment in many key building blocks of economic development.

Transportation is a huge barrier to residents seeking the best employment opportunities. We are also seeing increased road congestion in the Treasure Valley. Local option tax authority can help us address these challenges and protect our quality of life.

Idaho State House District 19 B

Democratic primary

Jeff Gabica

Jeff Gabica

Jeff Gabica, Boise

Chris Mathias

Chris Mathias

Chris Mathias, Boise

Charlene Y Taylor, Boise: Candidate has withdrawn from the race but did so after the deadline to remove her name from the ballot.

Republican primary

  • James F Jacobson, Boise
  • Gary Parent II, Boise

Candidates did not respond to survey. Learn more about them in this Idaho Press feature.

Q: 1. What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

Jeff Gabica: I want to address the issues voters have been asking for; fully funding Medicaid Expansion, adding the words 'gender identity' and 'sexual orientation' to the human rights act. I want to pass the ERA, increasing education funding, and bring universal background checks to gun sales, fight for human rights, find real solutions for affordable housing and raising the minimum wage, and legalizing medical marijuana. I also want to fight government corruption and protect animal welfare.

Chris Mathias: I hope to be an effective voice for D19 residents and their values. I hope to promote true competition of ideas between Republicans and Democrats, and work to create family-sustaining wages, real healthcare, and stronger public schools. And I’d like to see immediate implementation of the Governor’s “Our Kids, Our Future” Task Force recommendations for K-12 education. These are bipartisan roadmaps for making solid, measurable improvements to our education system and there is little time to waste.

Q: 2. What experience has prepared you for this office?

Jeff Gabica: I have been an activist all my life. I studied Political Science at BSU, and I graduated from C of I with honors and Majors in Zoology, Psychology. I'm bilingual in Spanish. I have lost opportunities due to my Hispanic heritage. I have directly experienced the struggles the LGBTQIA+ community faces. I worked with lots of advocacy groups, shown up to protests, hearings, and organized events for the causes and issues I care about. I even had to move for better medical care for my family.

Chris Mathias: I overcame some difficult childhood experiences, served in the U.S. Coast Guard, and went to earn a law degree and PhD in law and public policy. I’ve been a U.S. Senate law clerk and for over a decade, I’ve devoted my professional life to higher education, including service as the former Chief Academic Officer for the Idaho State Board of Education. I also have experience serving as an Idaho legislator, acting as occasional substitute for my state senator.

Q: 3. What changes, if any, would you support related to state funding of public education?

Jeff Gabica: I have talked with a lot of teachers, and the first thing we need to do is pay teachers better. They are leaving Idaho for wages as high as $70,000 to start. Idaho pays a minimum wage of $38,500. We could increase sales tax, by even .25% to solve funding, and legalize medical marijuana and tax it for education and other things. I believe in a $50,000 minimum wage for teachers should be the first increase statewide and by paying better we can recruit new teachers and retain the ones we have.

Chris Mathias: Our state must stop divesting from public education. It’s forcing residential property tax payers to increasingly fund their public schools. The quality of our schools, and the instruction that occurs inside them, should not be contingent on the appraised value of homes in a community. Idaho’s K-12 and higher education systems need new funding formulas. Both systems are limping along on outdated models. New funding formulas have been proposed and they should be further refined and implemented.

Q: 4. What do you see as Idaho's prison system's most important needs and and how would you address those?

Jeff Gabica: Idaho needs to change how we address criminal behavior. Reform is not achievable if there isn't a system in place that works. Changing how we sentence non violent offenders, and creating solutions for housing and jobs that allow people to go back to society without judgement once they have served their time, is a priority for me. If we decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and legalize it medically, we can also cut down on over crowding. We also need to address the racial bias.

Chris Mathias: Idaho has the nation’s highest rate of incarceration due to supervision violations. The legislature could stop incarcerating people simply for their inability to remain compliant with probation or parole. They could also eliminate the fees and fines that criminalize poverty and keep people trapped in the system, knowing that compliance depends on stable housing and a living wage. We must also continue to reduce the number of non-violent prisoners being incarcerated at great expense to our state.

Q: 5. What do you see as Idaho's most important healthcare system needs and how would you address those?

Jeff Gabica: Medicaid expansion got more votes than anything else on the ballot. We need to fund it, and we need to expand it. We need to loosen enrollment timelines, and increase coverage for dental, vision, and add additional medically necessary procedures to it. We need to expand Mental Health funding, and bring more beds, especially for youth, into our state. We need to resolve some of the red tape that disqualifies families stuck in loops where individuals still cannot get healthcare.

Chris Mathias: In this moment of global pandemic, we’re vividly seeing that our health is entwined with every member of our community. When we all have access to preventive and primary care (including mental and behavioral healthcare), when none of us live in fear of being one illness away from bankruptcy, when we can see a doctor no matter our employment status, we all do better. We must continue to implement Medicaid Expansion, eliminate work waivers, and and seek solutions beyond employer-based insurance.

Q: 6. What changes to income, sales and property tax policies would you support?

Jeff Gabica: Voters are concerned about being taxed out of their homes. If we increase sales tax, and remove some of the exemptions that corporations get, we can balance the budget without people losing their homes. We have a lot of educational and safety needs that are forced to use bonds, and when those fail, they are left with no real options. I'd like to see property tax adjusted because some areas aren't actually worth what the inflated values suggest, leaving lots of empty homes. Homeowner exemptions.

Chris Mathias: I would support two immediate changes. 1)The legislature should repeal the grocery tax (and accompanying tax-credits) and use internet sales tax dollars to offset the loss. 2) We need property tax relief for homeowners now. This should include fully funding our public school system and offering relief from local supplemental levies, reforming the homeowner’s exemption, and discontinuing the practice of shifting tax burden from commercial properties to residential properties.

Q: 7. What measures do you support in updating Idaho's voting processes?

Jeff Gabica: Voting by mail has been huge to lots of people and in the future I think more voters will enjoy it. I would like to see automatic registration, and eventual online voting, for which I have a plan ready to submit as a bill, once elected. I think we need to produce registration cards in multiple popular languages so that voters can understand what the document says. Idaho is a welcoming state, and once our entire community can have access, that will be a real democracy.

Chris Mathias: Increased access to the ballot should be a shared and essential American value, regardless of party affiliation. We should seek to make voter registration automatic whenever possible, including when our young Idahoans turn 18. As evidenced in this pandemic, voting by mail should be an essential part of keeping our elections convenient and safe, increasing participation for all. And no one should ever have to spend a dime to vote, including the cost of a stamp.

Q: 8. What are the biggest transportation priorities in Idaho for the next 20 years, and how should the state prepare now to fund those projects?

Jeff Gabica: Citizens are dreaming of a light rail system that goes from Mountain Home to Caldwell or even Ontario. Our soldiers could more easily come to Boise and Nampa and enjoy time with their families and friends, and our community could better attend college, access more jobs and cut down on cars on the roads. We definitely must expand our bus routes. We could tap into federal funding, prioritize public transportation in the budget, and find creative ways to increase funding including local tax options

Chris Mathias: Idaho already has a long list of deferred maintenance on our rapidly-aging roads and bridges. We need infrastructure to responsively manage the number of cars on the road, in a way that does not compromise our air and water quality. Idaho needs a 20 year, proactive plan for a 21st century transportation system, funded by a rescission of the most outdated deductions in our state tax code, the unutilized internet sales tax fund, and increased taxes on tobacco and vaping products.

Q: 9. Do you support local option sales tax authority for all cities and counties?

Jeff Gabica: Absolutely! Cities and counties know their own needs better, and local government should have the freedom and flexibility to address their community's needs. A statewide raise in sales tax may not be necessary if local control options are in place. Local options could individually add sales taxes for education, transportation, infrastructure, environmental trusts, and so much more. Our communities are growing, and my district covers multiple cities that all have different needs.

Chris Mathias: Yes, especially if the state is going to continue divesting in essential functions, like public education and transportation. Let’s empower local governments to petition their own residents to fund citizen-driven priorities.

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