Voters have a three-way race in the Republican primary for Dist. 7A Representative, between incumbent Priscilla Giddings, Shannon McMillan — who lost this seat to Giddings in the 2016 election — and newcomer Ryan A. Lawrence.
Primary elections are May 15. No other parties have filed candidates in this race, nor have any write-ins. District 7 includes Idaho, Clearwater, Shoshone and a portion of Bonner counties.
The Idaho County Free Press solicited information from each of the candidates concerning their qualifications and issues of the district.
Seeking her second term to the Idaho Legislature, Priscilla Giddings listed four areas of concern: to stop the overreach of federal regulations, of which the legislature has the authority, she said; stop wasteful mismanagement of natural resources, noting a unified effort is needed to restore access to these; repairing road and bridges, with rural highway districts needing a higher priority during highway funding decisions; and restoring deteriorating school facilities, establishing new funding mechanisms to reduce the burden on property taxes.
Giddings was raised in White Bird, graduated from Salmon River High School in Riggins, and later recruited onto the track team for the Air Force Academy where she graduated with a B.S. degree in biology. She attended pilot training and flew the A-10 Warthog, along with several other aircraft types, was deployed overseas three times and has logged 1,000 combat hours.
She separated from active duty in July 2014 and joined the Idaho Air National Guard as an air liaison officer for the 124th Air Support Operations Squadron. She currently serves as a major in the Air Force Reserves as the Director of Idaho Admissions Liaisons for the Air Force Academy and ROTC, and she completed her master’s degree in physiology.
Giddings’ desire to serve in the legislature came from her experiences in Afghanistan, she said, through which she realized the importance of the unique constitutional freedoms in America.
“While I was trying to help garner freedoms for the Afghanis,” she said, “those same freedoms were being lost at home,” and upon returning home chose to get involved to maintain these here.
During her first term, Giddings said she passed several bills, including a property tax credit for 100 percent service-connected disabled veterans. She is working on several more bills that would reopen roads, help miners, and recreationists.
Ryan A. Lawrence
A fourth generation Idahoan and resident of Clearwater County, Ryan A. Lawrence is a 2015 graduate of Kendrick High School where he was elected associated student body president and championed school and community causes. He attended Boise State University and will graduate with a B.S. in criminal justice and political science, and certificate degrees in leadership/human relations and dispute resolution. He grew up on the family farm, of which he is now a partner. His past political experience includes internships with Representative Caroline Troy, Senator Jim Rice, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, and U.S. Senator Mike Crapo.
Of this intern experience, according to Lawrence, this increased his level of knowledge of how the government works as well as where the government could be improved to better serve the people of Idaho. He lists himself as a conservative Republican, pro-life, pro-gun, pro-small business, and pro-limited government.
“Idaho’s transportation system is one of the most critical functions across the state of Idaho,” he said; however, historically those go to the Treasure Valley, leaving little for the rest of the state. Roads in this region are just as important, he said, “and I will fight to bring more road dollars to District 7.”
On Second Amendment rights, Lawrence said he does not support more gun control measures or restrictions, and supports school districts to have the option to arm teachers and staff. Problems in this area are a mental health issue, one that he said is important to all Idahoans, especially to those in this region.
“We need to increase our funding for mental health services, while also allowing more local control of the money appropriated to them,” he said. In the legislature, Lawrence said he would support increased appropriations to mental health services, as well as an increase in regional services, and fostering new partnerships “with local stakeholders to ensure people have resources and support available to them.”
Lawrence supports properly funding education, and strengthening career/technical education both at the secondary school and collegiate levels. Natural resource industries need to be protected but also the economy needs to be diversified, he said, to protect workers from cuts and allow better paying jobs to come to the region.
“If elected again, I will continue to support our natural resource industry, and support legislation that will attract job-producing industry to Idaho,” said Shannon McMillan. Her most important platform issue is to work for Idaho to resist and push back against the “undue burdens the federal government has placed upon potential employers,” and make Idaho a friendly place for industries to relocate.
A resident of Silverton, McMillan served as representative for Dist. 2, and later for Dist. 7 for six years – 2010-2016. Her strengths in this area include developing solid working relationships with other legislators and state and local government officials. McMillan stated her legislative support for natural resource industries, advocacy for the right to bear arms (co-sponsoring legislation for enhanced concealed weapons permit holders to exercise their rights on Idaho college campuses) and developed a strong pro-life voting record.
McMillan said she will continue to draw on her life experiences, related to her late husband, a diesel mechanic who worked in the mining industry; and her late father, a railroad worker.
“I know personally what it is like to have loved ones forced to work out of state due to the state of our natural resource economy,” she said, “and I will do everything within my power to ease the burden on our mining and logging industries so that our working men and women will be able to come home, here in Idaho, at the end of the day, knowing their jobs will still be there tomorrow, as in previous generations.”