Incumbent District 32 representative facing two opponents in the Republican primary

Gun Rights

IDAHO FALLS – Longtime Bonneville County legislator Wendy Horman has two challengers in the upcoming Republican primary.

Wendy Horman, a representative for District 32 seat B, is competing with Ammon Mayor Sean Coletti and local attorney and medical debt collector Bryan Smith.

RELATED | Ammon mayor running against District 32 legislator in Republican primary

Horman has served as a member of the Idaho House of Representatives since 2012. Details about her campaign are available on her website.

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Coletti is in his second term as mayor. If elected, he is planning to step down at the end of the year. More information about his candidacy is available here.

Smith ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson in 2014 and 2022. He was named to a seat on the GOP National Committee last year. Click here to visit his website.

RELATED | Former Idaho congressional candidate Bryan Smith named to GOP national committee

EastIdahoNews.com sent the same eight questions to each candidate. Their responses were required to be 250 words or less. Horman and Coletti’s unedited responses are below. Smith did not respond to the questionnaire.

The primary is May 21.

Tell us about yourself — include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any prior experience in public office.

Horman: I am a mother of 5, grandmother of 8. I’m married to Briggs and together we own Peak Performance Therapy Services in Ammon.

I currently serve as Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Co-Chair of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, a member of the Federalism Committee, House Energy, Environment and Technology Committee, and as a member of the executive Legislative Council.

I have previously served as Chair and Vice Chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures Education Committee. I was formerly Vice Chair of Education Commission of the States. I have also served as a Commissioner for Idaho on the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. I also serve on the board of the McClure Center for Public Policy Research.

I served on the Bonneville School Board from 2002-2013 and was President of the Idaho School Boards Association in 2007. I am Chairman of the Idaho School Safety and Security Advisory Board. I started the Fine Arts Mini Experience (FAME) program in the Bonneville School District as a parent volunteer.

I was named an Idaho Business Review Woman of the Year for 2017.

I recently received the Elevate Award from Mountain States Policy Center for my commitment to education reform and fiscal transparency.

I am the founder and chair of the Idaho Energy and Technology caucus and am a Commissioner on Governor Brad Little’s LINE Commission (Leadership in Nuclear Energy).

I have a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Brigham Young University-Idaho.

Coletti: I’m married to Ammon native Jessi Grigg Coletti, and we have two sons, Jaydn (23) and Sterling (13), and a dog named Max. They are my world.

I graduated from Rigby High School and then served a church mission in Seoul, South Korea. Upon return I met Jessi in the Snow music building at Ricks College. She played the piano and I sang, so we became a musical duo. While at Ricks I interned for Senator Mike Crapo’s Idaho Falls office.

After Ricks I graduated from Brigham Young University and joined the Army National Guard as a Korean linguist and counterintelligence agent.

Our family then moved to Connecticut where I attended law school at the University of Connecticut. Following graduation, I worked for judges in Twin Falls and then in American Samoa.

Afterwards we moved back to Ammon and I joined an Idaho Falls law firm where I practiced law in a variety of fields for 16 years. I also served for two terms on the Ammon City Council.

I served for several years as a Republican precinct committee officer and also as a vice chair of the local Republican Party before running for local party chairman in 2016.

In 2018, I ran for mayor of Ammon, where I’m currently in my second term. I am currently employed at the Idaho National Laboratory as an attorney.

Why are you seeking political office? Briefly explain your political platform.

Coletti: I believe that government closest to the people is the best government. While we ask the federal government to stay out of Idaho’s business, at the state level, we’ve not practiced that same principle. The Idaho legislature should resist the temptation to legislate every issue. We have capable local governments that can manage many matters.

For far too long, Idaho has kept local governments reliant on the property tax, especially on our homes. In the legislature, I would champion efforts to update the tax code so we can decrease overall taxes on our Bonneville County residents, including and especially property taxes.

We also need to take seriously our constitutional obligation to support our public schools. I’m the only candidate in this race who doesn’t support sending your tax dollars going to private schools. I’ll fight for our students and teachers so that they have the tools they need to thrive and succeed. We want Idaho students to have access to education and careers that help them reach their fullest potential.

I believe the government should focus on the basics and then get out of the way. I would work to continue efforts to reduce regulation and state government intrusion in our daily lives so that Idahoans can thrive.

Horman: I first ran for office because I want every child to have the opportunity for an excellent
education.

I have been a budget writer for public education for 10 years and have sponsored legislation that has included historic increases in public school funding during that time, including increases in teacher salaries, funding for school employees’ health insurance and for school facilities. I co-sponsored H521 this session which will reduce reliance on local property taxes for school buildings and reduced Idaho’s income tax rate. I have also sponsored major legislation
supporting charter schools and bills that support parents choosing the learning environment that works best for their child.

I have been a champion for school safety, authoring the Idaho School Safety and Security Act in 2015 and serving as Chairman of the Idaho School Safety and Security Advisory Board.

I have 100% pro-life voting record over 12 years and am endorsed by Idaho Chooses Life.

I have an A rating with the NRA (National Rifle Association). I own a gun and am an NRA member. I will continue to defend the Second Amendment.

I have been named a “Friend of Agriculture” for the 2023-24 legislative sessions. I also received the Ag All Star Award from the Idaho Food Producers.

I believe in limited government and have sponsored legislation that created greater fiscal transparency, including a new budget process this session that improves transparency of spending and will hold state agencies accountable for using your taxpayer dollars effectively.

What are the greatest challenges facing people and communities in your district? What is your plan to meet those challenges?

Horman: Too many Idaho families are struggling to put food on the table and gas in the car. Inflation
continues to hit home for Idahoans. I have will continue to work to reign in government spending and reduce tax rates, while still supporting funding for education, public safety and improved roads. Idahoans deserve a government that lives within its means.

Coletti: Bonneville County will continue to experience growth over the next decade. Communities need the resources to deal with this growth, and leaders who understand how to manage it. As mayor of Ammon I have dealt with this issue firsthand.

It’s vital that our elected state leaders provide meaningful property tax relief by reducing our reliance on it. Bonneville County communities need the tools necessary to maintain existing infrastructure, including our streets, sewer, and water. We also need to support measures that would ensure new development pays for itself. Recent efforts by the legislature to decrease the property value of new construction and expiring urban renewal districts only increase the burden on existing homeowners. We also need better tools to pay for new schools. I understand growth and will fight for our Bonneville County property owners.

I’m also concerned with the efforts and beliefs of my opponents to remove public tax dollars from our public schools. They want those dollars to go to private schools without accountability. We have two excellent school districts in this county. They need the support that our Idaho constitution requires. I believe in upholding that constitutional oath, one which I have taken every four years of elected office.

Having worked with local law enforcement and fire, I am also aware of the ever-increasing cost to keep our communities safe. A safe community requires first responders who have the critical resources required to do their jobs. I will continue to support our local first responders.

How will you best represent the views of your constituents – even those with differing political views? How will you communicate directly with constituents?

Coletti: As Ammon’s mayor I work personally with residents to address their concerns. I visited a resident in her home when she was concerned about speeding cars on her road. I met with a resident who had questions about fiber construction on his cul-de-sac. I’ve knocked on doors to collect signatures for the sewer district, written many letters to residents explaining the details of important issues and given my cell phone number to anyone and everyone who needs their voice heard. As an elected leader I communicate through multiple difficult issues in person, in writing, and on social media. I believe that we break down walls when we meet people in person, face-to-face, and on a human level.

Whether it be water, sewer, fire, taxes, comprehensive planning, or streets, I’ve navigated very difficult issues as mayor that are central to our community’s long-term success. It requires working with people who hold very different views.

I am proud to have a reputation as someone who is exceedingly approachable. That is what we need is an elected representative and that is what I will take to the legislature.

Horman: I can’t do my job well unless I hear from the people I represent.

As a member of the Idaho House of Representatives, I am labeled and scored by a variety of special interest groups who judge me based on their interests, not yours. But it is your interests I seek to represent, not theirs. A single score or a single grade from any special interest group cannot define a politician or a person anyway.

If we are going to make America great again, all of us, elected officials and citizens alike need to step up. I sincerely appreciate citizens who care enough about Idaho and America to attend my town halls, to reach out to me by email, phone, social media or in person. I can’t represent your interests if I don’t know what they are. Your role as a citizen is as critical as mine in preserving our state and nation.

Despite the mocking and labeling politicians sometimes experience, I still consider it a tremendous privilege to serve in the Idaho Legislature, to be a small part of this uniquely American form of government gifted to us by our Founding Fathers.

What parts of the state budget could use more funding? Where are places in the budget that cuts could be made?

Horman: A chairman of the Appropriations Committee, this is exactly the work I do each year – evaluate
this question! The answer is that it’s different every year. We have consistently made huge investments in public schools, especially to teacher salaries during my 10 years on the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC). The average teacher salary in Idaho is now over $61,000.

Because of Medicaid Expansion, the Health and Welfare budget is now the largest overall budget in Idaho and growing at an unsustainable pace. Beyond that, some years transportation needs more funding to repair our roads. Other years, law enforcement and first responders have needs that receive priority funding. The state constantly invests in water storage projects, as well as water infrastructure for cities and counties. During years of surplus, we eliminated all state debt that could be paid off. We have also made huge investment in broadband infrastructure.

This is exactly the job of JFAC and the Legislature – to pass budgets that that responds to where increases or decreases are warranted.

Coletti: Over the past few years, we’ve made funding increases in K-12 budgets to address much-needed issues with teacher pay, student literacy, and student career planning. We need to keep investing in Idaho’s schools, particularly school facilities, many of which are in embarrassing conditions. The same goes for Idaho’s roads and bridges. Recent investments have been productive but will simply not be enough to address all of our aging infrastructure needs.

In my experience, every budget can benefit from greater efficiencies and a combination of efforts to reduce dollars spent. In Ammon, we get to run a city with one of the lowest tax levies in the entire state. This has required creativity and hard work, not political grandstanding and excuses. Our state agencies and elected leaders should always look for ways to make the budget leaner and more effective.

Are you currently working on any legislation or have ideas for bills that you feel are vital to the future of Idaho? Please provide details.

Coletti: I am proud of the work we did in Ammon to restructure the sales tax revenue sharing formula so that it is better supporting growth. Since growth is one of the biggest issues in Idaho, I will continue working on legislation to ensure that communities have the needed tools to properly deal with the effects that growth brings. My experience in local government will guide my efforts in this regard.

Horman: I will continue to improve the new accountable and transparent budget process to make sure
we have a government that lives within its means and is accountable to taxpayers. I will continue to work to improve education for all Idaho students.

Have you seen any mistakes made by the Idaho Legislature in recent years? How would you work to correct these errors?

Horman: The answer to that question is different for every citizen and every legislator. The same bill will cause some people that feel it is a huge mistake and others who think it our greatest accomplishment. This is the beauty of our representative form of government. The people can speak out and we, as their representatives, can respond to concerns in future sessions. There is always the opportunity to refine and improve the laws we pass.

Coletti: Since 2017, Idaho has spent nearly $11 million defending against legal challenges to unconstitutional or illegal legislation passed by the Idaho legislature. Make no mistake, these hard earned dollars come right out of Idahoans pockets. Our legislators must understand the constitutionality of proposed legislation before passing it, so we can avoid constantly going to court.

I also believe that our legislature must work better with local officials. Those with boots on the ground know the issues better and should be consulted on every piece of legislation that potentially affects local communities. Too many mistakes have been made when the legislature moves to block local officials from dealing with local issues.

What is the most important issue facing Idahoans? What is a legislator’s role in meeting or addressing that issue?

Coletti: Growth, education, and property taxes are our most important issues. Growth brings with it infrastructure problems and crime, and if we are not equipping our local communities properly they will not be ready to handle it.

We have a constitutional obligation to ensure that our public schools are successful. As a community and as a state, we are and should be partners with our public schools. Their success is our success. Their success is our students’ success. Idaho’s future depends on it. The last thing we need is politicians ignoring the needs of our schools and pushing personal agendas like my opponents’ proposals to rob our public schools of their funding and send it to private schools. Stopping bad policy is as important as crafting good policy.

Finally, Idaho desperately needs to get out of the grips of unsustainable property taxes through smarter tax policy.

Horman: See Answer #3.

I also hear from Idahoans who are deeply worried about illegal immigration. We must respond by supporting law enforcement and giving them the tools and resources they need to maintain law and order. This year we passed a bill with strong punishments for trafficking fentanyl, which is coming across our open borders at unprecedented levels. We also funded the Idaho State Police with extra resources this year to go to the border, receive training, and assist other states in stopping the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs.

Citizens I hear from are also very concerned about outrageous levels of federal spending and the federal deficit.

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