Lewiston native, Idaho newcomer up for 6th District House seat

May 11—Voters in the newly redesigned 6th Legislative District have a choice between a longtime Lewiston resident and an Idaho newcomer in the May 17 Republican primary.

The incumbent, Rep. Lori McCann, was appointed to the House A seat last year, after former Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger resigned. She's lived in the district for 50 years.

Her challenger in the race, Claudia Dalby, of Viola, has owned property in Idaho for about seven years, but only moved to the state seven months ago. She's never run for public office before.

The 6th District includes all of Latah and Lewis counties, as well as a small portion of the Lewiston Heights area and the northern/eastern half of Nez Perce County.

Dalby, 50, grew up in Romania, which before 1989 was a Communist country aligned with the Soviet Union.

"I lived there until I was 7 years old, so I have a lot of firsthand experience with government control," Dalby said. "I don't want to see things like that here."

After Dalby and her father escaped from Romania to Austria, they were sponsored by a church and were able to move to California. That's where she met her husband, who was in the military, and later raised and home-schooled their three children.

She cited education and parental choice as her top issues, along with protecting First and Second Amendment rights.

"I'd like to see schools focus on education, rather than indoctrination," Dalby said. "I don't want to see things like critical race theory or sex education in our schools. That should be left for college."

She also wants public school funding to "follow the student," meaning parents would decide where to spend those dollars. That includes using the money to pay for private or home schooling.

"Whatever the parents choose," she said.

Dalby was an independent voter "for a long time," until she registered as a Republican. However, she described her values as "conservative."

She didn't cite many specific disagreements with McCann's voting record during the 2022 session, but did point to her no vote on House Bill 631 as one area where they differ.

The bill would have prevented public schools, state or local governments from imposing mask mandates for the purposes of controlling the spread of a contagious disease.

"I would never force children to wear masks in school," Dalby said. "I'll fight for people's freedoms. I think that's very important now, given the direction the government is going."

McCann, 61, previously served on the Tammany School Board and currently serves on the board of directors for the Idaho Community Foundation and Idaho Business for Education. She's also president of the Lewis-Clark State College Foundation.

Serving in the Legislature is just a continuation of that public service.

"I've always been a service person," she said. Being a state legislator "is an opportunity to give back to my community and state."

McCann runs a cattle ranch and real estate business with her husband. She serves on the House Education Committee, Commerce and Human Resources, and the Agricultural Affairs Committee.

Like Dalby, she cites education as one of her top issues. Both of her parents were teachers, and she herself taught at LCSC for 15 years.

She also believes in school choice but, unlike Dalby, would limit it to public school options.

"My concern with allowing the money to follow the student to private or parochial schools is that it opens the floodgates," McCann said. "Legally, if we open it up to private schools, we can't restrict the type of school. They could be teaching anything. I don't think Idaho taxpayers would be happy sending dollars to schools that go against everything we stand for as a state."

She also noted that Idaho already has a wide variety of good public school options, including traditional schools, charter schools, an online academy and career-technical education options.

"We need to continue to focus on education policy that promotes public school choice, and that encourages parental involvement," McCann said.

Regarding her vote on HB 631, she expressed frustration with legislative attempts to micromanage local governments and school boards, even as lawmakers jealously guard their own prerogatives.

"We don't want any overreach by the federal government or the executive branch, but we want the Legislature to be able to dictate what local governments do," McCann said. "That doesn't work for me."

On the business side of things, she wants to continue the state's aggressive efforts to reduce regulation and push for tax policies that encourages out-of-state businesses to locate in Idaho, while helping existing businesses grow.

"I have a proven track records that shows I can work with all sorts of people, from business people to hardworking farmers," McCann said. "Given my background and history and ties to the area, I think that should put me over the top (with voters)."

The winner of the May 17 primary will face Moscow Democrat Jamal Kingsley Lyksett in the Nov. 8 general election.

Spence may be contacted at bspence@lmtribune.com or (208) 791-9168.

Name: Claudia Dalby.

Office sought: Idaho's 6th Legislative District House A seat.

Political party affiliation: Republican.

Age: 50.

Occupation: Homemaker.

Education: Psychology degree from Capella University.

Family status: Married, three children.

Previous or current elected positions: None.

Web or social media site: dalbyforidaho.com.

Name: Lori McCann.

Office sought: Idaho's 6th Legislative District House A seat.

Political party affiliation: Republican.

Age: 61.

Occupation: Runs a cattle ranch and real estate business with her husband; taught at Lewis-Clark State College for 15 years and has 44 years experience as a paralegal and legal assistant.

Education: Education degree from the University of Idaho.

Family status: Married, four children.

Previous or current elected positions: Incumbent; appointed to position in May 2021.

Web or social media site: lorimccannforidaho.com.