BOISE – Sen. Jim Hammond won’t seek a fourth term in the Idaho state Senate and instead will apply for the upcoming opening for president at North Idaho College, along with looking at other options that will keep him closer to home and family.
“I never intended to set a record here,” Hammond, R-Coeur d’Alene, said Thursday. “It’s an opportunity for someone else.”
Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, immediately announced he’ll run for Hammond’s Senate seat. Nonini, who’s in his fourth term, is the House education chairman.
Hammond said being away from his wife, kids and grandkids so much was the main driver of his decision. “About 20 months of the last six years I’ve been gone,” he said. “I’m missing my grandkids’ plays and baseball games. … Five years from now, nobody’s going to remember what I did here, but my grandkids will remember that I was there.”
Hammond, a former Post Falls mayor and city administrator and school principal, had been rumored as a candidate for the upcoming opening when NIC President Priscilla Bell retires. “I have not applied, but I intend to,” he said. “That’s the kind of thing that I love doing – working with the community, working with employees. I find that very rewarding.”
However, he emphasized, “My decision to leave here is not directly related to that. That’s one of the opportunities out there.”
In his three terms in the state Legislature, Hammond has served on the joint budget committee, which sets all state agencies’ budgets, and last year he was named chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.
“I feel good about how I’ve represented my constituents,” he said. “I feel respected down here. … That’s important. If you have no credibility, you can’t do much for your constituency.”
Hammond, 61, is a Missoula native who graduated from Carroll College and holds a master’s degree in education from Whitworth College. He started his career as an Idaho public school teacher in 1973; he served as mayor of Post Falls from 1991 to 1996. Hammond served on the State Board of Education from 1999 to 2004 and chaired the state charter school commission from 2004 to 2006. He and his wife, Cyndie, have three children and four grandchildren.