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Idaho state Rep. Sue Chew dies from pancreatic cancer

Rep. Sue Chew standing in front of a hydrangea bush for a posed photo
Idaho Democratic Party
State Rep. Sue Chew (D-Boise) died Wednesday after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.

Idaho’s longest serving House Democrat, Sue Chew, has died at 66 after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.

She first won election in 2006 representing the Boise Bench and areas south of downtown.

The Idaho House honored Chew’s record of service late last month, appearing in-person with several family members.

Rep. John Gannon (D-Boise), who shared that district with Chew for more than a decade, said during the ceremony that she would do anything for constituents.

Gannon gave one example from a woman he spoke with while knocking doors who wasn’t particularly interested in his policy stances.

“’You know, when Sue Chew came to visit, she washed all my dishes,’” the woman told Gannon.

“And I looked over and there was a pile, there was a little work to do there,” he said. “That’s what it was like to be Sue Chew’s seatmate.”

House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel (D-Boise) sponsored the resolution honoring her, saying she always fought for the underdog.

Rubel said Chew worked with a wide spectrum of people during her career – many of whom recently celebrated her achievements.

“People from the healthcare community and pharmacists, addiction recovery, juvenile corrections, higher education, judiciary, youth groups, Chinese Americans, the LGBTQ community, the disabilities community [attended],” Rubel said.

“It’s really incredible how this lady has gotten around and touched so many people who needed help in this state.”

Rubel’s resolution specifically acknowledged Chew’s bill from 2018 that ensured those overdosing on illegal drugs wouldn’t be charged with a crime if they seek help.

She was born in 1958 in California. The resolution said Chew’s father was one of the first lawyers in that state of Chinese descent.

Chew earned her undergraduate degree from University of California at Berkeley and her Doctor of Pharmacy from UC San Francisco.

She eventually moved to Idaho to work at the Boise VA hospital, and later, Saint Alphonsus.

Chew planned to retire following this session, leaving her seat open for the first time in 18 years.

Copyright 2024 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season.

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