Cheri Zao

State Representative Legislative District 5 Seat A

Biography & Background

I have lived in Idaho for over 33 years and started out my career here as a Family Practice physician. I set up my own solo practice, saw dozens of patients a day in the office, delivered babies when they wanted to be delivered and cared for those precious newborns. I admitted and cared for patients in the hospital and had the privilege of assisting in various surgeries. I joined a group because of the pressure of my full scale Family Practice was beginning to weigh on me. Burnout is tough especially when you are a strong patient advocate. I believed in a more holistic approach to medicine and still do so even today. It was a tough decision.

So I changed gears, and found a new passion at our local community college. Working with college students and teaching them Anatomy & Physiology was amazing. I met so many wonderful people as their A&P instructor and saw so much growth in the students. A community college is a place for students of all ages and stages in life. They willingly walk through those doors of academia to be challenged and changed. Its marvelous to be part of that process. North Idaho has some real talent and the members of this community should be proud. I saw students gain skillsets they never knew they had. They proved that when you are ready you can achieve your dreams and more.

I retired from North Idaho College and began traveling with my husband, Peter. RVing is great and I highly recommend it. The United States has the most fabulous national parks to explore. And you can travel with your dog. I found retirement is what you make it. I have chosen involvement in organizations that impact our community. When I was working I threw all my energy into my work and never had the time to look at anything else. Now I look and I see the growth in our community and notice we are being challenged on many fronts. I want to help with these challenges and protect what we value.

Top 3 Issues:

1. Property tax reduction. Property taxes for homeowners have not been fair for a while. The recent real estate boom is just making this situation worse. Our legislators have done nothing to help. Longtime Idaho residents are being ignored. Too many live on fixed incomes. They want to stay in their homes and they should be allowed to do so. I want to present legislation to reduce property taxes for homeowners. I will do it in a way that protects our longtime residents. These residents should not be forced to sale their home because they cannot afford their property taxes. There are others that need property tax relief and I will ensure that they will not be left out either.
2. Public schools. I support Idaho’s public schools and all day kindergarten. For sometime our public schools have been under attack by various organizations. These attacks have happened in the legislature and locally. We need to support our teachers and public schools financially and professionally. Our teachers work hard for our students and deserve our respect. Our schools are required to hire qualified teachers and it should remain so. If we are having a difficult time finding qualified educators and other states around us are not having this same problem it will be because of how we treat our educators. Good pay and adequate resources matter. You can only ask someone to do more with less for so long before a crisis occurs. We cannot keep doing this and expect good people to stay. A quality public education is insurance for economic prosperity. Good paying employers will not want to relocate to a place with a faltering educational system. Idaho will lose out on great opportunities to advance the incomes of their residents. We need to look at different funding formulas. The current supplemental bond system is unfair, especially for those in the smaller rural communities. I plan to craft legislation to help fund our K-12 schools in a more equitable fashion.
3. I fully support the second amendment. Gun ownership is a valued right of all US citizens.

Integrity in Affiliation

Submission: No

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