First elected to the Idaho State Senate in 2008, Dean Mortimer is the new Idaho State Senate Education Committee chair.  

Born in Moscow, Idaho and currently a resident of Idaho Falls, he attended East Idaho schools, including then-named Ricks College, followed by a bachelor’s degree and MBA from Utah State University.  He has worked extensively in the mortgage industry, including founding his own business, and is involved in residential and commercial development. He and his wife, Judy, have four children and seven grandchildren.  His legislative district wraps around the city of Idaho Falls and includes Ammon.  In his spare time he enjoys fishing, gardening and raising animals.

What are your priorities as Education Chair? My first priority is to be a good, well organized chairman who listens, following the example set by the previous chairman.  I believe making the committee process vigorous, inviting, and open is important.

What are your thoughts on a resolution to the issues facing the Idaho Education Network?

This is a very complex and difficult issue that must be addressed and resolved to the satisfaction of all parties and with the ultimate result being the complete and effective education of our students.  We need to give our students and educational professional staff the ability to have technology and learning components in the schools.

How is the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Sherri Ybarra, doing?Superintendent Ybarra has a very difficult job of working with a budget that she didn’t draft and with staff and policies she didn’t put in place.  She is working hard and being both deliberate and reserved and, yet, progressive in her work with the Legislature and the political process.  She is also working hard to learn the local districts’ issues and concerns.

Any thoughts on Governor Otter’s proposes education budget? The Governor has proposed an aggressive and positive infusion of significant resources into the education budget.  He should be applauded for his leadership and encouragement to make education a priority in our state.

Where would you like to see Idaho’s education system in 5-10 years? A healthy, vigorous, and embracing educational process is necessary for the long term economic and individual growth of our citizens.  Over the next 5-10 years it will be necessary to focus on adequately funding with accountability of the educational community. It is necessary to get all educational professionals working cooperatively together to accomplish this goal.  Parental and student engagement is critical during this process.  Technology will have a significant role.  Professional technical education will be a major factor in education and employment during the next 10 years.  The concurrent and dual enrollment along with the scholarship programs for these courses will encourage advanced learning and career readiness.  Flexibility and mobility in the education process will also be a focus.  Career counseling and individual learning plans will also have additional focus. 

Steve Taggart is an Idaho Falls attorney specializing in bankruptcy (  He has an extensive background in politics and public policy.  Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..