After years of neglect, North Idaho Democrats field strong candidate seeking tax scofflaw Hart's House seat

Democrats didn't bother opposing four-term GOP Rep. Phil Hart's two years ago, even when he was weakened by his $500,000 unpaid tax bill and theft of state timber.

Yesterday, former Kootenai County Clerk Dan English said he'll seek the District 2 House seat, announcing his candidacy Wednesday outside the Idaho State Tax Commission office in North Idaho. English is the first Democrat to run in the district in a decade.

English, 60, has an impressive resume for a challenger: former president of the Idaho Association of County Recorders and Clerks; former sheriff's detective; former city councilman and school board member; former executive director of two non-profit youth organizations; licensed professional counselor; adjunct professor at Lewis-Clark State College; and father of four, two of whom served in the military in Iraq.

Hart hasn't yet filed for a fifth term; Republican Ed Morse is already in the race.

Among the things English emphasized was his record of earning public confidence: "I’ve had the privilege of winning the public’s trust and holding public office on several occasions, just like Representative Hart. I’ve taken my oath of office very seriously as well as the trust that was placed in me. I imagine Mr. Hart must feel he does the same. But that’s about as far as the similarities go. I can only think we must be made out of different stuff at our core. Because I can’t imagine wanting to even give the appearance that I was somehow using the fact of being an elected office holder as a shield to avoid, or in any manner delay the responsibilities and timelines that every other ordinary tax payer must abide by."

Given the considerable interest in this race, here is the text of English's formal announcement:

“HAD YOUR FILL?” TEXT OF ANNOUNCEMENT SPEECH – Dan English

I’m Dan English and I’ve filed for the position of State Representative, District 2, Seat B, currently held by Representative Phil Hart. I’m well aware of my odds in this race. Running as a Democrat in Kootenai County, let alone in a district that has been judged to be among the reddest of the red districts in Idaho is an uphill climb at best.

This isn’t the most convenient time given the demands of family and vocation. Contrary to popular opinion, I’m not retired and in fact often put in very long but satisfying days on behalf of the kids and families served by Twin Lakes Friends Camp.

I’m not sure public service, especially when called upon to run for public office, is very convent for anyone these days. It can come at a significant personal and even financial toll. And based on the number of people willing to put their name on the ballot in either party compared to those that could
or at least those who regularly complain about their government, you would have to say most aren’t willing to pay the price. But that is the price that must be paid if we want our Representative Republic that is based on the Democratic process of free and open elections to thrive and survive.

This is America and we are free to believe what we want. In most cases, we are free to act on those beliefs as well. But I don’t think someone should be free to run term after term unchallenged when their belief and practices about our tax laws are so far out of line with ordinary, hard-working taxpayers
who play by the rules, who pay their fair share, and expect everyone else to do the same. They especially demand that anyone who draws a paycheck & benefits from those hard earned tax dollars to have enough respect for them to do the same.

I’ve had the privilege of winning the public’s trust and holding public office on several occasions, just like Representative Hart. I’ve taken my oath of office very seriously as well as the trust that was placed in me. I imagine Mr. Hart must feel he does the same. But that’s about as far as the similarities go. I can only think we must be made out of different stuff at our core. Because I can’t imagine wanting to even give the appearance that I was somehow using the fact of being an elected office holder as a shield to avoid, or in any manner delay the responsibilities and timelines that every other ordinary tax payer must abide by.

I understand there are special privileges that lawmakers enjoy but I just can’t believe the framers of our state constitution ever had in mind that those privileges would someday be used to enable Mr. Hart’s tax avoidance behavior. That is why I chose to make my announcement today in front of the Idaho State Tax Commission instead of a more traditional setting to draw attention to the apparent differences in our beliefs and behavior.

I do realize that Mr. Hart may not even be in the race in November. In fact, at last check he hadn’t even filed to be in the race in May. But then, my candidacy is not just about Mr. Hart.

In Kootenai County, the decisions for most of our elected officials are made by a quite small percentage of the registered voters in the Republican Primary Election. In most cases, if they even have an opponent, it is all over in May. When the majority of the voters come out to make their choice, especially in Presidential years when the turnout is over 85%, they find they actually have no choice at all. I think that problem will be even more acute this year given our new closed primary law.

Democrats have been criticized for not fielding enough candidates for the ballot. As a Democrat I have accepted that challenge. I feel very strongly about making sure the voters have actual choices for candidates on their ballot, especially in the November General Election. It has been 10 years since there has even been a contested race on the General Election Ballot in this district.

So no matter who I face in November, I think the voters in District 2 will best be served by having a choice instead of so many of our voters not having anyone to represent them.

And how are your legislators representing you these days? Are you happy with all the time, effort, and expense they are using to debate one-sided partisan bills and resolutions that do nothing to improve the daily lives of ordinary working and struggling people? Especially when so often they are told by
their own Attorney General and other legal advisors that many of these laws are unconstitutional and expensive wastes of time and money. But they continue to spend time and money on special legislation that are the equivalent of form letters to the editor and Congress for their party faithful. That’s fine if
they want to band together and do that on their time and their nickel but don’t be doing it on our time or our dime! The burn rate of the legislature is about $30,000 a day and this is no time for those kinds of wasteful expenditures. I don’t know about you, but that is certainly not what I elected them to do!

The three core issues that will be most important to me are the same issues that I think most voters are concerned about. They include quality education that benefits all of our citizens, strong economic policies that focus on job creation, and the expectation of high ethical standards for our elected officials.

In the end, I believe it all boils down to just one question for the voters and good people of District two… ARE YOU READY FOR A CHANGE OF HART? If you are then please support my candidacy with your time, efforts, financial contributions, and your prayers. So if you’ve Had Your Fill then Vote for Dan English, Legislative District 2 this November. Thank You.

1331227693 After years of neglect, North Idaho Democrats field strong candidate seeking tax scofflaw Hart's House seat Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

timelines

I don't think it's reasonable to blame Democrats -- or other Republicans, for that matter -- for not opposing Hart two years ago; the tax situation had been going on for a long time, and the timber theft wasn't revealed until after the filing deadline.

That said, I'm delighted to see so many people of both parties now putting their foot down and saying "enough" to these kind of ethical lapses.

went back and looked it up

It was June before an ethics panel on the tax situation was called for and we started hearing a lot about it, and October before the theft of timber was revealed.

I'll see that when I believe it.

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I'd like to thank Kevin Richert for persuading all the legislators to quit.

Take his house and take our logs back

Enough of this nonsense. Foreclose on the house held in that sham trust and attach the business for the remainder of back taxes. Lord knows, many other folks in this state could use some help

Have the Four Loonies gone home yet?

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I'd like to thank Kevin Richert for persuading all the legislators to quit.

I think we really need..

That Sheriff Pusser guy.

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I'd like to thank Kevin Richert for persuading all the legislators to quit.