Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, has decided not to run for another term, after serving two terms in the Senate and two in the House. "The job that I've had, I think, often is just speaking up for those who are about to lose, the side that's going to go down," she said. "I think your heart can only take that for so long."
LeFavour, 48, a teacher and a writer, is the Legislature's only open gay member. She's been an outspoken advocate of legislation to expand the Idaho Human Rights Act to cover discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; that legislation has seen growing support, but lawmakers have never granted it a hearing. She serves on the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee.
She said, "My biggest worry is letting a lot of people down." Click below to read her full announcement.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 24, 2012
Idaho State Senator Nicole LeFavour announced Friday that after eight years serving in the Idaho legislature she will not seek a third term in the Idaho Senate. “It has been such a deep honor to represent the amazing people of Boise’s district 19 where I live. The district has been so good to me and I like to think I’ve been a dedicated voice for those here and for many statewide who otherwise might not have had someone to speak for them.”
In her four terms in the legislature LeFavour was well known for her work on tax policy, prison sentencing reform and improving Idaho’s treatment and support for those facing mental health or substance abuse issues. She also has advocated for adequate services to keep Idahoans with disabilities independent and healthy in their homes and communities.
“It is with the deepest sense of regret and sorrow that I leave the legislature, a place that has taught me so much about politics, policy, process and people. Idaho is a tough place to be in the minority. I took very, very seriously my duty to speak for those who were to be harmed by the policy we passed. That’s not a popular role to play and one simply can’t do it forever. It is especially hard knowing that speaking up for a wrong about to be done was so often not enough to change the outcome. You hope for the best in people and I always have hoped my colleagues would rise to that. Last year was tough and I left the session knowing this would be my last.”
In the legislature, LeFavour served for four years on the powerful Joint Finance and Appropriations committee, for six years on the Judiciary & Rules Committees of the House and Senate and for four years on the Senate Education Committee where she led efforts to oppose Tom Luna’s 2011 Education reform bills which make it law that the state would increase public school class sizes by using drastic cuts in funding for teaching positions to pay for new lap tops and mandatory on line courses.
LeFavour was elected by her peers in the House and Senate three times to serve on Legislative Council. For more than four years she served on the Commission on Hispanic Affairs. All eight of her years in the legislature she served on the Joint Economic Outlook and Revenue Assessment Committee where for five out of the seven years she had the closest year end revenue estimate of any legislator on the committee.
First elected in 2004, LeFavour was Idaho’s first openly gay elected official and the only openly gay person elected to Idaho’s legislature.
“The four or so months of the legislative session are hard on family. My partner Carol has put up with a lot of stress and has stood by me as I dealt with a lot of loss. She’s so smart and keeps me laughing through the hardest times but you can only ask that of someone for so long.”
LeFavour hopes her district will work to make sure that she is replaced in the legislature by another openly gay member.
“It is so critical that the house and senate have openly gay members. If I weren’t here there are times I’m certain that some in this Capitol would say they didn’t know anyone gay. And then how would they ever know that they cared about what happens to gay people in our state?”
LeFavour says she’s seen progress, “After all these years, finally this body of 105 people is beginning to see that people do still discriminate and do intentional harm to gay and transgender people in our state. I know for a fact that a majority of my colleagues also finally feel that doing intentional harm to gay people is wrong. In a civil society it is our duty to say this is wrong. If we don’t, we might as well be saying that we condone the harm and don’t care about the lives of good people who lose their jobs, housing or educational opportunities for no other reason than that they are gay.”
“I began this session knowing I would not be returning and had one of the most amazing experiences of my legislative career. In August I began working with a group of people who became known as Add the Words, Idaho. Many, gave their every spare hour over the last five months strategizing and organizing to help the Idaho legislature see that Idahoans believe it is time to include gay and transgender people in our existing human rights act. I love the group of people I’ve gotten to know these past months. I think they’ve changed history on this issue. For the first time in all my years working on this issue I have two votes shy of a majority supporting the bill in both the house and senate with at least three maybes and several I’ve not talked to yet. That alone keeps me hopeful about what may still be possible this year.”
“I leave the legislature knowing I did everything I could last year to try to stop the cuts to education and the radical change in priorities from teachers and classrooms to technology. I put my whole heart into stopping the cuts to Medicaid and to mental health treatment therapy and to services that keep people with disabilities independent in their homes. This year I will continue to do everything I can to get my politically fearful colleagues to acknowledge that this may be the only year in the next ten years that we have such a clear opportunity to pass legislation to include gay people in Idaho’s human rights act. I hope it weighs heavy on their consciences that in history they have the choice to do that now or to continue to allow good people across the state to live in fear every day.”