CEO of Heritage Health Seeks Republican PC Seat

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COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho – Mike Baker is the chief executive officer of Heritage Health, formerly Lake City Health and Dirne Health Centers, which is organized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

According to Baker’s LinkedIn account, he has been with Heritage Health for 14 years, manages a $35 million budget, and oversees more than 200 staff members. His account also states that he has been part of the LGBT Task Force with the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) since 2014 and was a board member of North Idaho Pride Alliance (NIPA) from September 2018 through November 2020.

Heritage Health is a prominent sponsor of annual Pride events hosted by NIPA. In 2022, the featured event included a public drag queen show in a downtown Coeur d’Alene park that children were encouraged to attend. When promotional flyers where released highlighting NIPA’s “family friendly” drag queen show, there was extensive pushback from the local faith-based community who views drag queen shows as adult entertainment that should be held in private, adult-only venues. In response to this viewpoint, Baker made a post under his personal Facebook account that called Christians “hateful” and were “using God to justify their messages of hate and fear.” He called on “real Christians” to come support the noble groups “creating safe, accepting spaces.”

When it comes to his tenure at Heritage Health, the group advocated pro-mask, pro-social distancing, and pro-coronavirus vaccine policies. At the time of this publication, the group’s YouTube account still had a video posted where one of their doctors claimed everyone will need to mask and social distance “until a majority of our nation and the world get vaccinated.” During the push to get Americans to receive the mRNA injections, Heritage Health heavily promoted the two-shot series and claimed it was “very safe” and “effective.” According to, 57 percent of Idaho’s population are considered “fully vaccinated” and less than one percent have received a booster dose.

Currently, Baker is campaigning to get Republican primary voters to select him as a precinct committeeman (PC) for the party’s central committee. The CEO of a large healthcare organization who advocates for LGBTQAI+, promotes the experimental mRNA injection, and calls Christians hateful now wants to be the grassroots Republican representative for precinct 401

If you are a Republican voter who lives east of Huetter Road and west of Carrington Lane between Prairie and Poleline Avenue, then your choice for PC on the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee (KCRCC) is between Baker and Kara Claridge, a third grade teacher at a public charter school.

Precinct 401 boundary map.

Claridge has been engaged in keeping her neighbors in precinct 401 informed of upcoming elections since August 2022. She is a quintessential American mother, raising five children with her husband of 24 years. With a quiet and gentle demeanor, she has consistently advocated for the protection of children and has helped multiple conservative campaigns. According to her campaign literature, Claridge has been “involved in encouraging our local libraries to adhere to Idaho State Statute” and supports “traditional American values,” including pro-life, pro-parents/family rights, and pro-2nd Amendment. Claridge appears to be running independently from the current KCRCC leadership, seeking to serve the broader Republican coalition.

Due to her interest in civics and dedication to serving the community, Claridge completed the application process for a seat on the Coeur d’Alene Library Board of Trustees. Mayor Jim Hammond, who is also running for a Republican Party PC seat, refused to appoint her. Instead, he re-appointed Steve McCrea who has sat on the board for over 20 years. Claridge’s quiet advocacy helped reveal that the Coeur d’Alene Library had been violating open meeting laws for over a year, which the trustees, former mayor, and councilmember Kiki Miller had denied.

Jim Hammond appears to be a career politician, having spent time in multiple elected and appointed offices, including city council, mayor, state legislature, and Idaho State Board of Education. As a board member of the pro-development nonprofit known as the Coeur d’Alene Area Economic Development Corp, Hammond has participated in using taxpayer funds from local, state, and federal levels to create unprecedented growth in Kootenai County.

Recently, Hammond joined the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations at a press conference which advanced the narrative that Idaho is full of “racist rednecks” based on a uncorroborated claim from an out-of-state visitor. To date, Hammond has not retracted his comments from March 26, nor has he issued a statement of support for the good people of North Idaho who were defamed when the visitor referred to the entire community “hillbilly white trash.”

Hammond is challenging Doug Bacon in precinct 412. It is noteworthy that both Heritage Health and the Coeur d’Alene Area Economic Development Corp (CdAEDC) are nonprofit organizations that the current Kootenai County Commissioners voted to stop funding with taxpayer monies. Additionally, Pam Houser, a board member of CdAEDC and VP of Community Relations at Heritage Health, is running for a KCRCC PC seat in precinct 502. Is it possible that Baker, Hammond, and Houser are seeking seats on the local Republican central committee in an effort to install elected officials who will reinstate policies that direct taxpayer funds to their nonprofits?

Idaho’s primary election is Tuesday, May 21. In-person early voting is available from May 6 through May 17 at the county election office in Coeur d’Alene. Election day voting is held at your assigned precinct polling place. Absentee ballots must be received by the county elections office by 8 p.m. on election day to be counted.