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Eye On Boise

Roark to let Hansen go, Dems say they’ll ‘try some new things’

Idaho Democratic Party Chairman Keith Roark has decided not to reappoint party Executive Director Jim Hansen when Hansen’s term ends Dec. 31, though Roark insists he doesn’t blame Hansen for the GOP sweep in the Nov. 2 election. “There is a need for some new direction, some new approaches,” Roark said. “Obviously with the Democratic Party in the situation that it’s in, looking forward, we’re going to have to try some new things that have not been tried before.”


Hansen, a former three-term Democratic state lawmaker from Boise and the son of former Idaho Congressman Orval Hansen, headed United Vision for Idaho for 13 years before he took the party post in 2008; there, he was recognized with a prestigious $100,000 leadership award from the Ford Foundation in 2005. When Hansen became the party’s executive director in 2008, Roark, in a press release, called him “one of Idaho’s best known and most experienced community leaders.”


Roark, who has served as party chairman for three years, said he’s not sure himself if he’ll seek another term in February. “I think our biggest failure has been the failure to develop and articulate a message that clearly reflects what we stand for, and consequently we have found ourselves in a position where we are defined by the Republicans, rather than by members of the Democratic Party, and that’s a significant shortcoming on our part,” Roark said. “We’ve had a very difficult time creating an identity and a message for Idaho Democrats that is separate and distinct from the national Democratic Party. That’s a challenge.”


Roark added, “Jim has worked extremely hard,” and said no individual could have fixed the problem. “We’ve got to look forward, and that means some new names, some new faces and some new personalities with different ideas than those that we pursued for the last three years,” Roark said; click below to read his full message to the party’s central committee about the move.

November 16, 2010




To: The Idaho Democratic Central Committee


From: R. Keith Roark, Chair




Following the meeting today of the Executive Committee of the Idaho Democratic Party I am announcing to the full Central Committee that the term of our current executive director, Jim Hansen, will expire December 31, 2010 and his appointment to that position will not be extended.  I am forming a search committee and the process of hiring a new executive director will begin immediately.  Jim has agreed to continue serving as executive director while the search process is being carried out.




Jim Hansen’s outstanding record of service to the people of Idaho and the Idaho Democratic Party is well known.  He has served as a state legislator, a community organizer and as executive director of the IDP while also giving tirelessly to his church and Rotary International.  We are grateful for the time and effort he has put forth during the past two and one half years and wish him well in all future endeavors.




R. Keith Roark, Chair


Idaho Democratic Party

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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