Sen. Gerry Sweet, R-Meridian, is resigning from the state Senate to join the staff of new 1st District GOP Congressman Bill Sali. Sweet will head up Sali’s district offices in Idaho. That means the Republican party’s legislative district committee must submit three nominations to the governor and he then has 15 days to appoint a replacement senator.
Sali also named Rob Schwarzwalder, a Washington state native whom Sali described as “an experienced D.C. hand who has never lost touch with his roots in the Pacific Northwest,” to head up his Washington, D.C. operations, and picked Boise attorney Lisa Tanner, a Bonners Ferry native, to head his D.C. legislative staff.
Meanwhile, Gov.-elect Butch Otter announced that he’ll be keeping on 12 state agency heads from the Risch administration: Richard Armstrong at Health & Welfare; Lois Bauer, Idaho Commission on Aging; Jim Caswell, office of species conservation; Olivia Craven, Commission on Pardons & Parole; Brad Foltman, Division of Financial Management; Gavin Gee, Department of Finance; Toni Hardesty, DEQ; Molly Huskey, state appellate public defender; Maj. General Lawrence LaFrenz, Idaho National Guard; Roger Madsen, Department of Commerce & Labor; Dyke Nally, liquor dispensary; and Brent Reinke, juvenile corrections. Otter said his transition team will have additional announcements in the next few days. Already, he’s already identified three agency heads who won’t be staying on: Pat Takasugi, agriculture; Roger Simmons, lottery commission; and Karl Dreher, water resources.
Over at the state Department of Education, the Idaho Statesman reported today that new GOP Supt. Tom Luna will send 20 department employees packing when he takes office. When current Democratic Supt. Marilyn Howard took office from GOP predecessor Anne Fox, she jettisoned just one department employee right off, and two others after a couple of months.