Frequently Asked Questions
Why are you a candidate for the states senate?
My parents taught me that a life devoted to public service is a life well-lived. They also taught me that good citizenship is not a spectator sport. Thus, I am highly motivated to use my legal, public policy and public service experience to effectively represent the people of District 15. It concerns me to see our legislature swing as far as it has to the political right. This gives Idaho a negative reputation nationally and hurts our ability to compete with other states in attracting new businesses. As a state senator, I will be a moderate voice and will work constructively with others in crafting reasonable solutions to the issues that face us.
What experience do you have that will help you be an effective senator for District 15?
As an attorney, I am familiar with the legislative process and can determine whether proposed bills comport with the U.S. Constitution, the Idaho Constitution, and existing statutes. My experience as an attorney has also taught me how to find win-win solutions to problems, and how to negotiate compromise. My seven years as Idaho’s first woman United States Attorney and my work on the Industrial Commission have given me critical leadership and human relations skills, and have taught me how to work with people on both sides of the political aisle. As a wife, a mother, and a longtime resident of West Boise, I have also been involved in our community in many volunteer roles. I have first-hand knowledge of the challenges faced by residents of the community. Addressing their hopes and concerns will be my highest priority.
How will you decide whether to support or oppose a bill?
My votes, in committee and on the senate floor, will depend on the specifics of each piece of legislation. I will read and study all bills carefully, consider the pros and cons, and determine whether they comport with the United States Constitution and the Idaho Constitution. I will also be in frequent contact with my constituents – not only those who have supported my campaign or who are members of my political party – but all my constituents, eliciting their views on legislation and their ideas for shaping Idaho’s future.
What is your position on gun rights?
I support the Second Amendment and would oppose any legislation that would undermine its guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms.
You have been active in the Idaho Democratic Party. How can you be effective in a legislative body in which Democrats are in the minority?
As Idaho’s United States Attorney for seven years, and before that as the attorney member and Chairwoman of the Idaho Industrial Commission, I worked effectively with colleagues and staff of both political parties. Building strong interpersonal relationships and treating others with civility and respect are keys to success in any endeavor. I will be an informed and articulate advocate for my constituents and reach out to senators of both parties to find common ground.
What do you think is the “proper role of government?”
The proper role of government is to fulfill its responsibilities and respect its limits as set forth in the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Idaho. Cecil Andrus is a co-chair of my campaign; and I am a “Cecil Andrus Democrat.” Governor Andrus often said, “We want government off our backs, but by our sides.” I agree. I also agree with the statement in the Declaration of Independence asserting that governments are instituted among men to secure certain inalienable rights, among them “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” “We the people,” are the government, and we can do much to improve the lives of citizens by providing those services that make sense to fund collectively through our tax structure. Examples include schools, roads, fire and police protection, food safety, workplace safety, and support for those who cannot support themselves, especially children.
How do you define student achievement and how would you measure it?
It is important to measure student achievement because parents and patrons need to know that students are progressing in their studies; however, the challenge is how best to make that assessment. Standardized tests are useful, but they do not always present a complete picture, and they cannot measure intangible qualities needed for success – qualities such as creativity, ingenuity, decision-making, interpersonal strengths, initiative, and follow-through. Moreover, standardized tests cannot reflect the unique circumstances attendant to any individual child’s achievement. A student’s home life, motivation, special challenges – including medical conditions – and other similar factors can have an impact on student achievement. I do not think that politicians are in the best position to measure student achievement; rather I think that professional educators, with input from parents and other patrons, are in the best position to make these assessments.
If elected, you will be a freshman senator in the minority party. What will be your role in the legislative process?
I will listen closely to my constituents and will work with my committee chairs, responsible members of both caucuses, and all relevant stakeholders to develop workable ways to enrich our economy, improve our public schools, and raise the ethical standards in state government. I will strive to be a constructive participant in the process. I will do my homework and be prepared to ask good questions and cast informed votes to ensure that the legislation we craft is sound from both the short-term and long-term perspective.
To see Betty’s responses to more frequently asked questions, please see the Idaho Statesman’s voter guide HERE.