COEUR d'ALENE — Former Los Angeles police officer Don Cheatham, a Republican, is running for the state House seat that opened following Frank Henderson's decision to retire.
"I have never run for political office, but want to join with other true conservatives who want to not only protect and preserve Idaho's conservative values, but enhance them," Cheatham said.
He has lived in Kootenai County for two years, including the past year in Post Falls.
"I love the political atmosphere here, and the way people are connected," he said.
Cheatham said the state's educational system is in "disappointing" shape, and he believes small businesses are struggling.
"We also need to identify ways to attract larger businesses and industry," he said.
He is a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights, opposes President Barack Obama's health care reform, and believes waterways and natural resources must be protected.
Cheatham, 68, recently retired from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In 2006, he was promoted to the post of regional director for the southwestern U.S.
He worked in the private sector for Bank of America in corporate security.
"I also drafted multi-million dollar budgets addressing their security vulnerabilities," he said.
He served nearly 25 years with the Los Angeles police department, which included assignments with SWAT and as a detective supervisor in organized crime.
"All my jobs have been working with the public," he said.
During the Vietnam War era, he served in the U.S. Air Force.
He earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from California State University, Los Angeles. He has been married to his wife, Lynn, for 30 years.
Cheatham is running against Avista Corp. official Greg Gfeller and Kootenai County Reagan Republicans president Jeff Ward in the Republican primary May 20.
No Democrat filed for the seat.