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Eye On Boise

District 4: Dems try for comeback, bid to retake Rep. Sayler’s former seat

A dozen years ago, two of the three state lawmakers from Coeur d’Alene were Democrats.

Now District 4, like the rest of the North Idaho Panhandle, is an all-GOP legislative stronghold. Local school board member and longtime resident Tom Hearn is hoping to change that this year.

He intended to challenge Rep. Kathy Sims, R-Coeur d’Alene, regarding her votes against public school funding, but Sims lost in the primary to Paul Amador, a relative newcomer to the community who just registered as a Republican this year.

Amador counts education, the economy and health care as his top issues. “I think I bring a vision for the future, somebody that’s forward-thinking and looking to improve the community and create a better opportunity for future generations, and I think I have a lot of experience that will be helpful serving in the Legislature,” Amador said. He wasn’t affiliated with any political party before this year, he said, but he noted that’s true of nearly 45 percent of District 4 residents.

Hearn’s campaign co-chairman is former Rep. George Sayler, a high school government teacher who represented the district as a Democrat until he retired in 2010; his campaign committee includes former longtime Democratic Sen. Mary Lou Reed of Coeur d’Alene.

“People know me,” Hearn said. “Whether you like me or not, I’ve been in this community for 35 years, I know the community, my positions are reasonable and moderate, I’ve been involved in both the public and private sector. I feel fairly confident that if people pay attention, don’t just vote for the party but also look at the candidates, look at their backgrounds and look at the issues, I’ll do well.”

While the Amador-Hearn race, with an open seat at stake, is the hottest in District 4 this fall, other seats in the district also are contested. Second-term Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, faces a challenge from Democrat Patrick Mitchell for the district’s other House seat; and first-term Sen. Mary Souza, R-Coeur d’Alene, is up against Democrat Kristi Milan, a retired teacher. You can read my full story here at

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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