Chenele Dixon began her journey into politics when she ran for student council in seventh grade. Even though she didn’t win that election, it began the path of getting engaged in government.
Dixon has run for office at all levels — Student government in high school, the Student Service Association at BYU, the Republican precinct chairman for her county and state legislator for District 24.
“Honestly. I think I was born wanting to get into politics,” Dixon said.
Dixon said the highlight of her first session in the legislature has been the people she’s met.
“I have met so many people in my district, in Boise, all the other legislators and all the different people that I need from different industries, and it has just been phenomenal,” Dixon said. ” I love learning, and I’ve really enjoyed learning from other people about their industry and their life experience as it pertains to things happening in the legislature. I’ve really, really enjoyed that.”
However, as a freshman legislator, Dixon said there’s a big learning curve. There are committee meetings and floor sessions, not to mention evening events and hundreds of pieces of legislation.
Her solution to juggling all these responsibilities takes her back to her college days.
“It occurred to me to pretend like I was back in college — like each of my committees is a three-credit class,” Dixon said. “I go to my committee, and then I have my homework, and I still have my social life because we have a lot of meetings outside of committees and floor sessions and meeting people and talking about things. There are a lot of social events in the evenings. As soon as I thought, ‘Okay, I just have these three three-credit classes and I have to balance that. I have to get the homework done for each one.’ For whatever reason, that really simplified it for me.”
Dixon’s background in education and her husband’s background in healthcare have helped her form connections to create better policies in these areas.
“I can call and talk to people who live that every day, Dixon said. “I think that’s important because it can be easy to assume that 105 people in that building sitting in the House and the Senate know what’s best, but I feel like we ought to consult with the people who are living it, whatever it is, and ask, ‘How is this going to affect you?’ I have those connections that I can do that in terms of both education and health care in Idaho.”
Dixon expressed gratitude for the women who came before her in the Idaho Legislature and the influence of other women who have influenced the U.S. She saw Women’s History Month as a time to place these on people’s radars and highlight their achievements.
“It’s so wonderful to just have this month to reflect on the women who came before us that have influenced and helped our country and our communities and our families to grow in positive ways and to lay that foundation for us,” Dixon said. “I’m certainly not blind to the fact that what many women did before has given us opportunities that we have today.”
One of Dixon’s role models is Margaret Thatcher, who served as England’s Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990.
“I remember I used to listen to her speeches, and I just felt like, ‘Wow, what a strong woman’,” Dixon said. “Obviously, I didn’t know her, so maybe somebody that knew her personally would say differently. I just felt like she had a strength, but she was still feminine and she was well-spoken and articulate.”
Dixon encourages all types of women to get involved.
“I think that we have a real opportunity to bring civility and thoughtfulness — and that doesn’t make a woman weak, it makes them a great contributor,” Dixon said. “I really believe that. I think when women try to become men maybe by being more aggressive, I don’t think that serves us as women and I don’t think it serves our societies. I think we can be smart and articulate and ambitious, and still be kind and civil.”
Dixon, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said the principles of the church can help everyone, including members of the church, navigate the political playing field.
“We’ve heard a lot from the Prophet recently about being kind and loving God and loving our neighbor,” Dixon said.”I think it’s important as people are involved in politics that they remember that because sometimes it goes out the window. Everyone — even if they don’t believe like you do, or don’t think like you do, or don’t look or act like you — everyone is a child of God. We just need to be cognizant of that when we’re making decisions and looking at laws. I think you can still do that. You can still have some compassion and be a policymaker. You know, you can still blend those two.”
To learn more about Dixon, visit her website.