Current state Rep. Ruchti one of two options to fill Dist. 29 seat in the State Senate

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POCATELLO — Current state Rep. James Ruchti is one of two candidates on the ballot to fill the state Senate District 29 seat formerly held by Mark Nye.

Ruchti, the Democratic nominee, spent six years — from 2006 to 2010 and from 2020 to 2022 — in the state House of Representatives, including two as Deputy Minority Leader. Republican candidate David Worley is new to politics, having run for mayor of Pocatello last year, losing to Brian Blad in a runoff.

The 2022 general election will take place on November 8.

More information about Ruchti’s campaign can be found on his website here.

More information about Worley’s campaign can be found on his website. here.

EastIdahoNews.com sent both candidates the same eight questions. Applicants were required to limit each response to 250 words or less. Worley did not complete the questionnaire; Ruchti’s responses are listed below.

Tell us about yourself – include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any previous public service experience.

RUCHTI: I am a 5th generation Idahoan and Pocatello native. I graduated from West Point. I served five years in the United States Army as a military intelligence officer.

During my military service, I was stationed in Germany, Arizona and Georgia. I was also deployed to Kuwait and spent time in Jordan training military intelligence officers.

I am a litigator. I graduated from the University of Idaho School of Law in 2001. I was president of the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association from 2017 to 2018. I am a small business owner. My partner and I own a successful law firm in Pocatello.

I previously served in Idaho House from 2006 to 2010 and served as Deputy Minority Leader for two of those years. I decided to run again in 2020 and was reelected to Idaho House.

I have been married to my wife, Wendy, since 1993. We have two sons, Spencer and Drew, who have graduated from college and are tackling the world on their own.

What accomplishments are you most proud of in your personal life or career?

RUCHTI: I’m proud of the fact that I’m a West Point graduate. My experience there was difficult academically, physically and mentally. I learned the importance of discipline, hard work and commitment.

I am proud to have served as president of the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association. Litigators work hard for their clients and fight for their legal rights.

I am proud of the small business that my partner and I have built. We have excellent employees who help us serve our customers.

I am also proud of my time in the Idaho Legislative Assembly. It gave me a chance to serve my community.

Why are you a member of the Republican/Democratic/Independent/Other party? Briefly explain your political platform.

RUCHTI: I am a Democrat because it is a party that cares about people, their potential and the challenges they face. I am a moderate democrat. I believe in local control, corporate support and limited government. I enjoy working on consumer protection issues. I love finding solutions that help Idaho families live their best lives.

What are the biggest challenges facing the people of Idaho?

RUCHTI:Idahoans need an education system that works for their families. They need well-paying jobs and a healthy economy. They need access to public lands and clean water. They need safe communities.

One of the things that Idahoans should be concerned about is the role that the Idaho Freedom Foundation plays in Idaho politics, especially the Idaho Legislative Assembly. Too many legislators represent the Idaho Freedom Foundation instead of their local constituents. It’s a problem that’s only getting worse.

How will you best represent the views of your constituents, even those with different political views?

RUCHTI: I am always open to discussions and other points of view. I try to inform my constituents of what is happening in the Legislative Assembly. I also organize town halls and other meetings to give and receive information. During campaigns, I attend events and knock on doors to talk to voters.

Through these processes, I learn the views of my constituents and these views inform my decisions in the Legislative Assembly and sometimes change my mind on issues.

What role do lobbying entities play in the decision-making of Idaho legislators?

RUCHTI: Lobby groups can play an important role in the legislative process. They educate legislators on the issues and can help legislators understand all aspects of policy proposals. They can also serve as a source for getting questions answered, as well as a source to help bills move through the legislative process.

Of course, legislators should accept the information and advice they receive from lobbyists knowing that they have a goal in mind. It is quite easy to determine which lobbyists can be trusted and which cannot.

How can you encourage compromise, debate, and a bipartisan approach to introducing new legislation in Idaho?

RUCHTI:I’m a big fan of bipartisanship. Most of the bills I work on involve bipartisan efforts. I also regularly socialize with members of the Republican Party to build relationships. These relationships result in better legislation, more respectful debate, and open discussions about the needs of Idahoans.

The best thing I can do is continue to get to know other legislators so that we can build trusting relationships. This is one of my biggest priorities during and between sessions.

What parts of the Idaho government could benefit from additional state funding? What part of Idaho’s government could be improved with funding cuts?

RUCHTI: Idaho K-12 and higher education needs additional state funding. We need to focus on early learning programs. The more our students are prepared for their education, the more they will benefit from it.

We should also focus on vocational technical education programs to prepare our students for the job market. We also need more funding for staff support – counsellors, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, canteen workers, etc.

The Idaho Legislature could save millions of taxpayer dollars by getting rid of the Constitutional Defense Fund, which is used by the Legislature to defend lawsuits when it passes unconstitutional legislation. It seems almost every year the Legislature passes laws that the Idaho Attorney General’s Office warns are unconstitutional and will lead to litigation, but the Legislature passes them anyway and ends up spending millions on fees lawyers and other costs to defend them.

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