John Shirts announces House, Dist. 9 candidacy

John and Mercedes Shirts
Philip A. Janquart
John Shirts formally announced his candidacy for Idaho’s Dist. 9 House seat A during the Lincoln Day Banquet held at the Vendome Events Center in Weiser on Jan. 26.
 He will challenge Rep. Jacyn Gallagher of Weiser who ran for the position unopposed in November 2022.
 Shirts, 37, came up through the Weiser School District, graduating from Weiser High School in 2005. He participated in several sports programs, including football and wrestling. 
 He obtained a BS in Political Science from the University of Idaho in 2009 before attending the University of Colorado where he earned his law degree in 2013.
 The “Shirts” name is well known in Weiser.
 “My dad is one of 10, third in line; I’m fifth generation in Washington County,” he told the Signal American in an interview last week. “I grew up on Mann Creek. My dad and his brothers ranched sheep for a long time. The three of them had a big sheep operation and now my Uncle Frank runs one down in Wilder. My dad runs cows, and then he does sugar beets and hay.”
 His great-great-grandfather homesteaded in Washington County in the 1880s. Shirts spent a year helping out on the ranch following his graduation from UofI before attending law school in Colorado. He then clerked under the Hon. Justice Robyn Brody in Rupert, Idaho before earning a commission in the U.S. Air Force as a JAG (Judge Advocate General’s Corps) officer. 
 He served active duty in that capacity until 2018 during which he served in Korea as an advisor to the 51st Fighter Wing on Osan Air Base and was later appointed to the Air Force’s Special Victims Unit where he prosecuted sexual assault cases at 30 air bases around the world from Germany to Hawaii. 
 He continues to serve as a JAG officer as an Air Force reservist.
 After leaving active service, Shirts was appointed as an Assistant U.S. Attorney during the Trump administration. He served as a federal prosecutor in Idaho, convicting illegal alien drug traffickers and child predators. Shirts spoke to the Signal American about why he is running for office.
 “I am a pro-life, pro-gun fiscal conservative. I’m a conservative person with a faith background that drives me in my everyday life,” he said. “I really want people to know that I am focusing on farmers and ranchers, fighting for their water rights; focusing on backing our law enforcement, and our veterans; and fentanyl.”
 Shirts said fentanyl is a monumental problem gripping the country and the state, affecting almost every community, even Weiser, and wants to help slow down the pace at which it is entering Idaho.
 Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid used clinically as pain management for cancer patients and those recovering from painful surgeries. It is said to be 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine and can kill simply by getting even a small amount on your skin.
 The fentanyl problem in the U.S. has been described as an epidemic, law enforcement carrying Narcan – a nasal spray that can reverse overdoses – as one of the basic tools of the trade.
 “We have to do something about this; from my view, we need mandatory minimums because it deters those criminals,” he said. 
 Mandatory minimums, Shirts said, attach mandatory minimum prison sentences to those caught transporting or distributing the drug in Idaho. 
 “We don’t have a mandatory minimum for fentanyl; we have it for every other drug, like heroin and meth,” he said. “That’s one of the big reasons I’ve stepped into this race. The stats show that it does work. It’s not going to get rid of it, but it is a piece of the puzzle. You want to get the dealers, which, largely … are cartel members; these are the people that are shipping it up from the southern border. These are the people who are bringing it into our communities and making money off it.”
 Shirts added that his decision to run for office is, in large part, rooted in his desire to serve others.
 “It’s a really good opportunity to give back to a community that has really given me a lot,” he said. “The campaign has been going well; I’ve had a lot of support, so I’m excited to see how this all turns out.”


Signal American

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