Former longtime state Rep. Mary Lou Shepherd, D-Prichard, has passed away at age 80. She represented North Idaho’s Silver Valley, and during her final years in office was the only Democrat among North Idaho’s increasingly GOP-dominated legislative delegation. Shepherd served in the House from 2000 to 2010, before she was defeated by GOP Rep. Shannon McMillan. A retired restaurant/tavern owner, Shepherd was known for departing from her fellow party members in the House to cast votes she said reflected the views of her district – often polling and keeping track of her constituents’ input via their calls and emails.
“Mary Lou invented constituent service,” said former House Minority Leader Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum. “I remember her as always on the phone with some agency working on a solution for a constituent. She was hard-working, cared deeply about Idaho and her district. … She had a large number of legislators on both sides of the aisle who were very fond of her.”
When Shepherd lost her bid for a seventh term in 2010, she said she’d “enjoyed just about every moment” of her legislative service, and offered her successor this advice: “To listen well, don’t make assumptions … and at all times remember who you’re representing and how they want to be represented.” She and her husband Jim raised seven children.