Dennis Mansfield for Idaho State Senate District 16
I have several core objectives if I am honored with the opportunity to serve the people of District 16. The first priority is to protect Idaho’s economy from the national economic policies driving up costs for Idaho families. The Legislature just took some important steps to help families meeting the cost of living for basics like food and gas. I will also be focused on doing everything I can to ensure that the big new investment in public schools is focused on the classroom and strengthening the academic skills of our students. We have witnessed a tragic decline in test scores and we have to turn that around. I am also interested in promoting cooperation and civility between people with differing views in the Senate Senate.
I have been involved with public policy in Idaho for many decades, primarily as a volunteer. During the 1990s, I served as Director of Idaho Family Forum, so I have a real appreciation for the way the Legislature works and a true respect for the institution. Over the past couple of decades, I have built a successful consulting/coaching business. That has given me a first-hand look at the impact of taxes and regulation on small business owners. I am blessed to be married to a woman who has just retired from her teaching position in the West Ada School District. Her first-hand experience with public education will be invaluable as I work to improve the quality of education we’re providing to our children and grandchildren.
Right now, the cost of living is upper-most for many families in District 16. Housing costs and availability, gas prices, food prices are heavy burdens for many people. We have to find creative ways to help working families deal with these real challenges. Part of that solution is growing the economy so that employers can afford to increase pay for their workers. We also have to look at getting rid of the sales tax on groceries. I think we have the resources at the state level to get that done this next winter.
I have no intention of making this job into some kind of career. I will serve only as long as I think I can make a difference for my neighbors. My focus is going to be on actually representing the views of people living in west Boise and Garden City. I will fight to make their concerns heard inside the Capitol.
Some of the key issues in need of immediate attention: the creation of more affordable housing, updates to our landlord-tenant code, as well as efforts to protect public education and public lands. As someone who interfaces with people facing housing insecurity each day, I am well-equipped with stories, data, and a deep understanding of the need for the state to address the housing crisis. I have plans to engage stakeholder groups to implement more tenant protections and reduce barriers for affordable housing development. I also hope to work with my colleagues to defend and advocate for robust investment in public schools and will be a fierce defender of our public lands.
I had the honor of serving as state senator for D17 during the 2020 session. That session taught me the importance of building bipartisan relationships with my colleagues across the aisle to get things done and the importance of consulting with and leveraging stakeholder groups to pass legislation. I was very close to passing my first piece of bipartisan legislation that would have made rental fees reasonable. Beyond the Legislature, I have demonstrated my desire to serve others throughout my legal career. My work with veterans, refugees, the accused, people experiencing eviction and homelessness, and indigenous populations has given me direct experiences that cause me to take my role as a policymaker very seriously.
As our state faces unprecedented population growth, the cost of living is outpacing wages. Many Idahoans are one financial shortfall away from eviction. It’s the start of a housing crisis much like our neighboring states. However, Idaho still has time to get ahead of the problem. I hope to create opportunities for more affordable housing development and to re-balance our landlord-tenant code so that Idahoans can stay housed.
Our public schools also remain severely underfunded by the state and educating our kids will take serious investments in the years to come. Our public lands are being compromised, as many access roads across the state have been blocked off by out-of-state investors who have purchased adjacent land.
In my work with people facing land insecurity abroad, with homeless populations in the Bay Area, and with people facing eviction in the Treasure Valley, I have learned that home is everything. As housing costs rise, we need to be creative and think outside the box to ensure our community’s housing stock meets demand and various income levels. There are many opportunities to incentivize affordable housing development and the corporate social responsibility of developers and property management companies. This is a time to stand up for what is right, not what is just easiest or advantageous for some.