I often get asked how a dentist ends up in Congress. As much as I’d like to say that it’s because “I like getting to the root of a problem,” the truth is, it all started with a certain teacher who made an indelible mark on my life at a young age.
As a junior at Blackfoot High School, I found myself in Mr. Hagar’s American government class. He and I had vastly different political leanings, which led to spirited classroom debate. Rather than quiet the unruly Mike Simpson, he encouraged me. Rather than reject my viewpoints, he welcomed them. LaMar Hagar sparked an interest in public policy that led me to choose political science courses in college, to run for a seat on the Blackfoot City Council, to become an Idaho state legislator and speaker of the Idaho House, and to serve the people of Idaho in the U.S. House of Representatives. And it all started with Mr. Hagar. I doubt that my story is unique.