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Two Retiring Idaho Democrats Reflect On Their Years In The Minority Party

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Otto Kitsinger
/
AP Images
Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, waits in the senate chambers at the state Capitol building in 2016.

 

Republicans control about 80% of both the House and the Senate at the Idaho Statehouse. Out of 105 seats, only 21 are held by Democrats. 

State Senators Cherie Buckner-Webb and Maryanne Jordan have both been leaders in the Democratic caucus at the state capitol. Both plan to retire from the legislature, and won't run for re-election in the fall. They joined Idaho Matters for an exit interview of sorts.

 

“You get tired of the answer to a lot of questions being ‘I can’t do that, I have to get back for a meeting,’” Senator Jordan said. That’s part of the reason this session will be her last. She and Buckner-Webb are happy to open up two senate seats for a new batch of “forward-thinking” legislators. 

 

“Part of what makes [the legislature] a vibrant body is that we bring on younger folks," Buckner-Webb said.

 

During their interview, both spoke to the experience of trying to legislate as the minority party.

 

"Part of what makes [the legislature] a vibrant body is that we bring on younger folks." - Sen. Buckner-Webb

 

“There's a certain freedom in knowing that you’re not going to get a whole lot done [in the minority],” Jordan said. “You can actually talk about how things are adversely affecting Idahoans…and I think that’s really important for that voice to be heard.” 

The Democrats have spearheaded bills including Add The Words campaign, which would bar discrimination on the basis of sexuality and gender identity. Jordan introduced the bill this session but it hasn't gained traction. It's unlikely to pass while they are in office — as several bills proposed by their Republican counterparts actually target transgender folks.

 

Specifically, Buckner-Webb and Jordan spoke out against a current House bill that would prevent trans women athletes from participating on female sports teams. The bill — sponsored by Rep. Barbara Ehardt (R-Idaho Falls) — has drawn public scrutiny and questions from the Attorney General's office, but has advanced to the Senate.

 

After their legislative careers end this spring, both senators are eager to take time off and relax. Buckner-Webb smiled and joked that she might release release a new album called "Oh, Freedom" after her years in public service.

 

Have a question or comment for the show? Tweet @KBSX915 using #IdahoMatters

Frankie Barnhill is the Senior Producer of Idaho Matters, Boise State Public Radio's daily show and podcast. She's always interested in hearing surprising and enlightening stories about life in the West. Have an idea for Idaho Matters? Drop her a line!