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This Idaho state senator’s new home will bring change to the legislature

Ali Rabe is resigning as an Idaho State Senator for District 17, but will run in District 16 where he new home sits.
Boise State Public Radio, Ali Rabe
Ali Rabe is resigning as an Idaho State Senator for District 17, but will run in District 16 where her new home sits.

Former Idaho State Senator Ali Rabe, who spends her days as executive director of Jesse Tree of Idaho helping to prevent evictions and homelessness, says her and her fiancée’s effort to buy a new home was painfully ironic.

“The past several months have been emotionally taxing,” she wrote on Facebook. “I’ve been searching for housing by night and seeing so many folks in eviction court by day.”

Rabe and her fiancée were fortunate enough to find a new home, but there will be another twist: she won’t be able to represent her old district’s constituents in the State Senate.

“Under our statute, because I moved, it requires me to resign my current position and creates a vacancy in District 17.”

Rabe visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about her resignation and her decision to run for office again in her new district.

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It is Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning. I'm George Prentice. State Senator Ali Rabe helps people find a new home for a living. She and her colleagues at Jesse Tree of Idaho spend their days doing their best to prevent evictions and homelessness. So, it caught our interest when Sen.Rabe had an announcement of her own regarding housing, and how that announcement impacts her work at the Statehouse. So, let's talk a bit about that this morning, Senator Rabe, welcome back to the program.

SEN. ALI RABE: Thanks for having me, George.

PRENTICE: Your story is not uncommon, in that you've been actively trying to find housing. So, if you don't mind, I'll ask you about the personal side of this. Tell me about that journey.

RABE: My fiancee and I have been looking for a home that we can live in for the rest of our lives for several months now, and we put in many offers, been outbid or beat out by full cash offers. So, it's been a long journey over the last several months.

PRENTICE: Your new home, though, takes you out of your current district.

RABE: Yes. So, we were we were finally able to find our dream home, but it is in District 16. Under our statute, because I moved, it requires me to resign my current position and creates a vacancy in District 17.

PRENTICE: So, for a layperson, can you give us a sense of what areas of Boise we're talking about that you're moving away from and moving to?

RABE: District 17 is on the Boise Bench, down from the Boise River, up to the airport to Boise State and now over to the Towne Square Mall. Those lines have changed a little bit with redistricting. And then District 16 is more of the Collister area and Garden City.

PRENTICE: Have you made a decision about whether you want to represent constituents in your new neighborhood?

RABE: Yes, I am planning to run for State Senate over in District 16 at this point. Sen. Burgoyne has announced that he is retiring, so I am planning to run for that position.

PRENTICE: Well, in the meantime, let me ask you:. Can you weigh in on the fact that the Legislature is coming back into session?

RABE: I am disappointed that the Senate has decided to come back with the House. The Senate decided to sine die back in… was it May finally when we sine die’d?. I'm worried about the precedent this sets for future sessions should the House decide that we will not sine die. And I also looked at the agenda. I'm not sure there's anything on the agenda that really warrants the necessity of coming back right away,

PRENTICE: Technically, doesn't the Senate have to be called back into session from the governor? I know the House did not recess, but since the Senate did recess, it gets very technical, right?

RABE: It is very technical and there are a lot of legal questions around this unprecedented situation.

PRENTICE: In the meantime, let's talk about how you spend your days at Jesse Tree. I am particularly interested in something called the Housing Law Clinic and a partnership that Jesse Tree has with the U of I Law School. What can you tell me about that?

RABE: Jesse Tree has been very busy in eviction courts… over the last few months, especially. It's been kind of an all-hands-on-deck situation here. We have been able to create a Housing Clinic with the University of. Idaho Law School, just to bring more people power to our work in court.  And now we're better able to connect people to legal, financial and social support when they're in eviction court. Our legal interns will affirmatively reach out to all of the parties going to court ahead of time. And we are also present in court, same day, so court staff, tenants, attorneys, landlords can pull us into cases and we try to get involved in as many cases as possible.

PRENTICE: Is it your sense that the demand of resources in eviction court is going to increase through the winter months?

RABE: We do normally see an uptick in demand in the winter months. There's less seasonal work available around the holidays. Budgets are tighter, of course, with kids out of school and things like that, more health issues. So, we do tend to see an uptick during those months.

PRENTICE: She is State Senator Ali Rabe.  Congratulations on your new home.  And best of luck with all of your decisions, and goodness knows there are quite a few of them in front of you, some of them very immediate. And in the meantime, thank you and have a really good rest of your morning.

RABE: Thank you, George, and thanks for the congratulations. It's been a really difficult decision, but my fiancee and I are really excited to have a place to call home.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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