August 27th, 2009 18:32 EST
Judyth Piazza chats with Idaho Gubernatorial Candidate, Rex Rammell
Rex was born January 2, 1961 in Tetonia, Idaho, a small rural town near Yellowstone National Park and the Teton Peaks Mountain Range. Home to the Rammell family since 1898, Teton County, was the ideal place for a boy to grow up and develop a love for the outdoors. Rex`s father and grandfather taught him the skill of hunting and fishing, a tradition the Rammells valued above all others. As a young boy and then to manhood Rex either had a fishing pole or a rifle in his hands.
Rodeo has also been a love of Rex`s since he was a boy. When they were old enough, Rex and his younger brother Gary, learned how to ride roping calves. During the summers through high school Rex and his brother had their own business cutting post and poles in the mountains. They worked all week and rode bulls on the weekends. They continued to ride bulls into their twenties and Rex even became an accomplished bull fighter. He is still a big fan of the sport today.
Following high school Rex served a two year mission for the LDS church in Tokyo, Japan. Upon his return he married his high school sweetheart, Lynda in 1983. The two made their plans around Rex becoming a Veterinarian and Lynda a teacher. They both received Bachelor degrees from the University of Idaho.
From there it was on to Kansas State University where Rex received a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in 1989. He was honored as Cum Laude for his academic achievement. Following graduation Rex and Lynda bought a Veterinary Clinic in Idaho Falls, Idaho where Rex practiced until 1995.
In 1994, Rex decided to try his hand at elk ranching, a novel agricultural enterprise in Idaho. He enjoyed raising elk so much that he sold his veterinary practice and made ranching his full time occupation. In 1995, while Lynda and the kids watched after the elk during the week, Rex went to Utah State University and received a Masters degree. From 1994 to 2007 the Rammells owned and operated a successful elk ranching business.
Rex and Lynda have four children. Mandy their oldest represented Idaho in 2003 and 2007 as Miss Idaho Teen USA and Miss Idaho USA. Their son, Jake, is attending the University of Utah. Alexis is 19 and trying to figure out her life and Jessica is a junior in Rexburg. Lynda has been a 5th grade teacher and in 2004 was honored as `Teacher of The Year.`
If you had asked Rex ten years ago if he ever thought he would be running for Governor of Idaho, first you would have gotten a blank stare, then a frank no. " Politics, prior to 2002, was never one of his goals. But the winter of 2002 and a couple of Idaho legislators changed his life.
He was just coming off a major confrontation with the State of Idaho, Department of Agriculture over whether Rex needed a license or not to own an elk ranch. Since 1994 it was a requirement that all elk ranches be licensed. Prior to 2001, the Department of Agriculture inventoried the elk by counting heads. In 2001 they decided each elk needed an individual inventory. This required catching each elk and reading their small metal ear tags.
Rex was unable to catch nine elk that were on the mountain, but still contained in his 1000 acre facility. Because he couldn`t catch the elk and refused to dart them, the Department of Agriculture refused to renew his license. Rex challenged their authority to license ranches. Being a veterinarian and having worked with many cattle, sheep, and horse ranches he knew that they were not required to have a license, so why should elk ranches have the requirement?
The Department of Agriculture frustrated by the challenge and their inability to enforce the licensing, went to the 2001 legislature and changed the civil penalty law for what they ostensibly claimed were bad actors " that thumbed their noses at the law.
The law prior to 2001 was a $100 minimum with a $5,000 maximum if a person was found guilty. Following the law change in 2001 it read, each day of a continuing offense can be treated as a new offense. " So instead of a maximum penalty of $5,000 per offense if convicted, the new law allowed for $5,000 a day.
From the day the new law became effective until Rex had a formal settlement meeting for operating without a license the potential fines were over $750,000.00.
Rex`s solution to the problem was change the law! And that is what he did. With the help of Representative Dennis Lake in the House and Senator Don Burtenshaw in the Senate, the civil penalty law of 2001 was repealed and the rule requiring licensing of elk ranches was deleted.
Rex was profoundly moved by the victory and realized that rather then submitting to bad laws it is a person`s responsibility to try and change them. He also learned that it is possible for one man to make a stand against the government and win. This led to an intense study of the Constitution by Rex.
Since his victory in 2002, Rex has challenged the law successfully several times. He also launched a political career in 2002 with an unsuccessful bid for the Idaho House of Representatives. Although defeated, he realized that it takes time for people to trust someone and is hopeful this time that enough people know what kind of man he is and will elect him to be their next Governor of Idaho.
Read about Judyth Piazza in the new book Dream reachers
A Nation Divided:
The War for America`s Soul
by Rex Rammell