A northern Idaho native running for Congress visited St. Maries to meet with local industry leaders, and spoke on his plans for the future.

Rep. Luke Malek (R-Coeur d’Alene) visited Benewah County March 2 as part of a state-wide tour of communities. He was invited by PotlatchDeltic Corporation to tour their facilities and meet with administrators and staff.

Mr. Malek said his willingness to listen to constituents and businesses in the state has been a hallmark of his six years in the Idaho House of Representatives. Rep. Malek will tour the state in the months leading up to the election, speaking with constituents and listening to the issues they have.

Mark Benson of PotlatchDeltic said the corporation supports Rep. Malek in his bid for the vacant District 1 seat in the House of Representatives.

“I’ve worked with a lot of different job-creators and employers in Idaho while I’ve been on the legislature,” he said. “I’ve built a reputation as someone who listens and makes decisions based on what I think is right.”

Rep. Malek said a common theme among Idaho businesses is a desire to reduce regulations on industries to promote growth. He said he will work to address their concerns if he is elected.

“I think the biggest thing that can be done to help job-creators in Idaho is to get government out of their way so they can create those jobs,” he said. “There’s frivolous regulation and other things that contribute to overhead that really stand in the way of hiring and paying a fair wage. The more job creators are able to invest in themselves and their employees, the better off everyone’s going to be.”

Rep. Malek’s desire to invest in Idaho’s economic growth includes the expansion of vocational education. He is pleased to see vocational education programs that have arisen in Idaho over the last few years. He praised the St. Maries School District’s partnership with PotlatchDeltic and North Idaho College as an example for other districts.

“St. Maries is a great model that the rest of the state needs to follow,” he said. “It’s these skilled workers that help grow Idaho’s economy, and we need people to feel like that is a really good career path. Here in St. Maries it’s particularly important to understand that not everyone needs to go into debt in college to have a future.”

Rep. Malek said he intends to take an active role in lawmaking which affects Idaho. He plans to be on the House’s agriculture committee, where he would have influence over farm bills which impact Idaho’s agricultural industry. He also said he would direct resources toward transferring federal lands to local and state management.

“One of the things that can benefit people most in Idaho is to have federal representation that is actually aware of what’s happening on the ground, and that is aware of how laws are impacting job creators in the state.”

The representative also said he would continue to ask local residents and businesses for their input during his tenure. In addition to his tour of Idaho communities, he said he has held more town halls than any other legislator during his six-year tenure – a practice he hopes to continue in Congress.

“One thing that surprised us is how excited people are to be heard. The fact that we have been travelling around the state and listening to people in their communities has been a really positive. It’s a unique opportunity to have someone who represents northern Idaho in Washington. This is home for me, and this is a chance to say that northern Idaho really matters, too.”

Rep. Malek will face a crowded field for his party’s nomination during their May 15 primary. The 2018 election will take place Nov. 6.

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