Bill Leake, left, and Chad Christensen are vying for Seat B in Legislative District 32. | Courtesy photos
AMMON – Democratic candidate Bill Leake is challenging incumbent Republican candidate Chad Christensen for Legislative District 32 Seat B.
The seat includes Oneida, Teton, Caribou, Bear Lake, Franklin and part of Bonneville County.
Christensen defeated former Bonneville County Commissioner Dave Radford by 1,881 votes in the May primary.
EastIdahoNews.com sent the same eight questions to each candidate. Their unedited responses, listed below, were required to be 250 words or less.
You can also visit Leake’s website for more information about his campaign.
Tell us about yourself — include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any prior experience in public office.
Leake: Over 35 years of business, government, management and engineering experience. I also have the education and leadership skills with a proven track record of getting the job done to be an influential and effective legislator for the citizens and businesses of legislative District 32. I held positions at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory as director of public works/infrastructure and director of engineering/construction management. I was responsible for multi-million dollar annual budgets for roads, solid waste disposal, emergency management, medical services, long-range planning, transportation operations/bus services, building and regulatory compliance and construction management.
I was also the director of planning and budgeting for the multi-million dollar environmental cleanup program at the Idaho National Laboratory. My management and leadership style embraces respect for other’s opinions, focuses on facts, strives to understand all aspects of an issue before finalizing solutions and achieving the best value while seeking out opportunities to maximize return on investment.
I currently serve as the appointed Teton County, Idaho representative to the Eastern Idaho Public Health Board of Directors and District 7 Board of Health Trustee to the State of Idaho. The current pandemic health crisis is at the top of my list of concerns.
I am a U.S. Navy submarine veteran and a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain. I am an eagle scout and member of the order of the arrow.
I am a proud father and have been married to my high school sweetheart for 48 years.
Christensen: I was born in Idaho Falls and graduated from Ricks College in Rexburg with an associate degree in criminal justice. I graduated from Idaho State University in Pocatello with a bachelor’s degree in political science and served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in San Diego, California.
I served 12 years in law enforcement (eight years for the state of Idaho as a parole officer and a welfare fraud investigator). I am a U.S. Army veteran and member of the Military Police Regimental Association, American Legion, John Birch Society, Oath Keepers, Idaho Farm Bureau, Idaho Second Amendment Alliance, and the NRA.
I’m endorsed by Gun Owners of America; 2019 Idaho Freedom Foundation legislative score — 97%, 2020 Idaho Freedom Foundation score – 99%, 2019 American Conservative Union Foundation legislative score — 100%; hockey and baseball coach; high school and American Legion baseball umpire.
I have two wonderful sons, Ryan and Cooper Christensen. We love God and the Idaho outdoors.
What are your proudest accomplishments in your personal life or career?
Leake: In my personal life, my proudest accomplishment is having provided for my family a warm and comfortable life in the great state of Idaho, where we are able to experience the great outdoors.
In my career, I have worked on a multitude of projects that have contributed to building a better place to live for future generations.
Specifically to government service, as Teton County Commissioner, I was instrumental in reducing taxes while still making significant improvements in County and Community services. For example:
- Closing the abandoned landfill adjacent to the Teton River saving several $100,000 in monitoring costs and eliminating the potential it had to contaminate the river and aquifer
- Consolidating ambulance service into a single and unified unit under the Fire District
- Eliminating the Ambulance Service Taxing District saving taxpayers $550,000 annually
- Establishing a much needed and improved recreational access to the Teton River
- Facilitating the acquisition of the Armory building at a significantly discounted price, saving well over $900,000 in replacement costs. It is now slated to house the county’s road & bridge department and other county services, eliminating the need to build a new facility thus saving, over $1.2M in new construction costs.
Christensen: My proudest accomplishment is raising two fine young men. They are very respectful, compassionate, caring, intelligent, hard-working young men.
Secondly, I have enjoyed my time as a legislator and I am grateful that I have stayed true to my campaign promises. I have followed through with what I said I would do by fighting for God-given rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. I have not sold out to special interest or influence. I cannot be bought or influenced by a dangling carrot of power and I have not wavered. I truly represent the majority of my constituents and I love them.
Why are you a member of the Republican/Democrat/Independent/Other party? Briefly explain your political platform.
Leake: Since none of the political parties have platforms that I can fully subscribe to, I approach each topic/issue with an open mind and weigh the consequences (cost, burden, rights, and practicality) of how they are being addressed. I certainly don’t buy into either of the far left or right political ideology. I consider myself as being a logical conservative, committed to doing what makes sense and in the best interests of the tax paying citizens of Idaho. I believe by working together, we can find ways to eliminate ineffective and unnecessary government bureaucracy and spending while improving those aspects of government that are truly needed in our society.
As a former registered Republican, I found the Republican Party in Idaho being ram rodded by a small group of far right individuals who are able to put resources to pressure the moderate republicans to not vote their own minds, but cave to the pressures so they can continue to serve in their elected positions.
In contrast, the Democratic Party does not discriminate against free thinking members. Instead, they seek to explore solutions that will have long-lasting, positive outcomes by embracing differing opinions on the complex and challenging issues facing our state.
I encourage people to vote for the person who they feel will serve them best, not a party platform.
Christensen: I am a member of the Republican Party because the platform focuses on adhering to the U.S. Constitution and protecting God-given rights, limiting government, less spending. The people are the true resource – not the government. The party supports the free market, the separation of powers and federalism, believes America is exceptional, etc.
I am a true Republican and take pride in actually following the platform to the best of my ability. Politicians who claim to be republicans, yet don’t follow this platform, need to find a new party exhibiting some integrity. Don’t claim to be something that you are not. If you vote more like a democrat, then be true to yourself and your constituents.
What are the greatest challenges facing Idahoans?
Leake: The cost of living, to name one. Too many Idahoans are strapped with the high cost of housing, healthcare (services and insurance), day care/after school care and secondary education (vocational and college).
Contributing to this is the Legislature’s failure to take these challenges seriously, not unlike several of those Legislators who are not taking COVID-19 seriously, which is another great challenge facing Idahoans. With the uncertainty of when a vaccine is going to available, our schools, businesses, healthcare providers will continue to be strapped with dealing with random outbreaks from unknowingly contagious individuals.
Another challenge is crime, drug abuse, alcoholism, lack of mental health care and other social challenges leading to sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. Too many Idahoans are having to live with or otherwise deal with these social challenges, preventing them from being able to prosper and build a better future for themselves and their families.
I also feel there is a need to simplify burdensome state regulations for small businesses. Small businesses don’t have time to deal with all the bureaucracy and regulations. Small business owners need more time to build, manage and operate their enterprises and spend less time dealing with inefficient government regulations.
Let’s not forget local government burdened with unfunded state mandates and micro-management. Local government is better suited to deal with many of the challenges facing our state. For example, education. The state needs to allocate funds to the local school districts with no strings attached and let them decide where and how to invest them.
Christensen: Right now, overcoming the overreach of government is the biggest challenge. Idahoans need to be free people by enjoying economic freedom, educating their children as they see fit, making their own decisions regarding personal and family health, exercising their rights to travel and assemble peacefully, and exercise their right to worship without interference and restriction.
Idaho needs to have a clear cut separation of powers. The legislature is its own branch of government and does not need the governor’s permission to operate. The executive branch has become an uncontrollable force that needs to be restrained so it no longer abuses our citizens, their children’s education, and their livelihoods. During COVID, the executive branch has gone unchecked and that needs to change for the well-being of Idahoans.
How is your party’s ideology better suited to dealing with these unique challenges than those of your competitor?
Leake: It isn’t ideology that is going to fix these challenges. It is the individuals elected to the Legislature who are willing to work together and put ideology aside that will lead to solutions to these challenges.
Christensen: We simply believe in freedom, not more government control, like the Democratic Party agenda exhibits. Too much government is a stumbling block for the success of Idahoans/ Americans. Democrats like to push stumbling blocks into the path of Idahoans/Americans, tripping them up and bludgeoning opportunities for true success. True success doesn’t equate to relying on taxpayer handouts or pushing one group down to lift up another.
How will you best represent the views of your constituents – even those with differing political views?
Leake: I am committed to seeking input and ideas from all my constituents and welcome those with differing political views. The devil is in the details when it comes to fully understanding what’s not working and how best to fix it. I will make myself available to all my constituents with in-person and Zoom office hours, since my district spans a large geographical area. I’ll also make myself available to attend community and civic meetings to get firsthand insights from our local government and civic leaders.
Christensen: I represent the majority of my district. I was elected to stand for God-given rights and the Constitution. I have done that and will continue to do that. I will not represent those views of control, more regulation, more restrictions, and socialistic ideology. I won’t pretend to represent those views in any form. I will vigorously fight that agenda. I am always open to ideas that don’t inhibit individual liberty, stifle the free market and increase restrictions.
How can you encourage compromise, debate and a bipartisan approach to introducing new legislation in Idaho?
Leake: I don’t need to encourage these things. These should be the routine, fundamental way legislators approach their job. Those who choose not to, and we have several that just won’t do it, need to move aside and let those who want to find bipartisan solutions move forward.
Christensen: I will only entertain a bipartisan approach if it fits the criteria in the answer to the previous question. I will never compromise on individual liberty and economic freedom. We are a republic, that means inalienable rights should be protected no matter what, never violated to appease a bipartisan approach.
What parts of Idaho government could benefit from additional state funding? What part of Idaho government could be improved with financial cutbacks?
Leake: The problem, as stated in the first question, is that additional state funding comes from raising taxes. Before think about any tax increases — which I’m not interested in pursuing until we’ve exhausted all other possibilities — we must first address the second question. Doing more for less should be a fundamental approach of all state government operations. As I learn about inefficient, unnecessary, ineffective state government, I will take action to bring those to the attention of fellow legislators and seek resolution through the processes in place to address waste, fraud and abuse.
Christensen: The state government needs to focus on the protection of rights and economic prosperity. That is the proper role of government. I have no problem cutting many unneeded agencies and diverting that money to focus more on the protection of the rights of our citizens, their businesses, and their farms and ranches. It would be great to see an Idaho government actually working for the success of people, instead of working against them. I have no problem cutting unneeded bloated agencies and diverting that money, as stated. I will never be an advocate of raising taxes. Bloated agencies need to be cut, some completely, in order to lower taxes.
The Department of Health and Welfare has become a beast that soaks up a large portion of our budget, to include health districts. We do not need the government to oversee the health of our families. Idahoans are intelligent, responsible people that can make wise decisions for their families without the constant babysitting of a government agency that consistently oversteps its bounds.
Some of this overstepping includes the intimidation of families to vaccinate their children or interfering with health care decisions of a family. My Democratic opponent seems to enjoy the power he receives from the health district. Sorry, I don’t need his advice for the health of my family, nor do the majority of my constituents in District 32.