Nicole’s Open Letter to Former Colleagues

Friends, Former Colleagues,  

I
no longer serve with you, but I’d like to say a few words. You, of the
Idaho House and Senate, I think you know in your hearts, you still have
work to do.

I never was allowed the privilege of bringing a
bill to “add the words” to the floor of the house or senate. I'd like
to you to hear what I would have said had i been granted that dignity. I
can not do justice to all the lives affected. There is so much you will
hear when you finally listen to the stories of gay people, your sons
and daughters, nieces, nephews, neighbors, and silent friends.

First,
despair takes far too many of young people. It never should. Please
consider the loneliness of a young person who has been rejected by their
parents, then their church, even their friends. Too many stand over
sinks with razors or knives alone, because no one stood to protect them
when the world grew cruel.

You may feel this matter is not
a place for policy but for church or family. But what of when one or
both fail good people? Should any one of God's beautiful young creations
feel they are unworthy of life? What if this were your child?

There
is sometimes folly in religions when they need to find demons from
among us. Every century, every decade has had them. And politics takes
them up because what church preaches is powerful. It motivates action
and votes. But at the expense of lives? So people we love live in fear
of meeting a baseball bat in a parking lot or alley?

I
know none of you wish harm on anyone. Tragically though, this
legislature’s failure to act is the same as an endorsement of the
violence, a nod to the unworthiness people feel when they live in fear
and no one will stand for them. In the far, most rural parts of Idaho it
can be the hardest. What if this were your child? Your sister or
brother?

Politics and political parties are not your
highest obligation as law makers or as citizens of this beautiful state.
Your highest obligation is to protect lives, to ensure freedom, liberty
and life. 

Please. This is so simple. Idaho already has laws that decry
cruelty on the basis of chosen religion, race, disability, national
origin, age over 40 and gender. Every business in Idaho operates within
these laws and has for decades. The laws mediate and protect businesses
and as much as alleged victims. They allow penalization
only for blatant, intentional, systematic acts of cruelty; the kind
trampling of a person’s liberty that we all feel civilized societies can
not function with or tolerate. It is very simple to include gay and
transgender people, my people, me, within these existing public safety
statutes.

Please, understand lives will be lost quietly each year, each month, you do not to act, each day that more of us despair.

Thank you for reading this. Please put conscience before politics. With respect.

…nicole

 

Former Senator Nicole LeFavour
Box 775 Boise, Idaho 83701
208 724-0468 • nicole@4idaho.org

 

P.S. This
bill is so simple. Just insert four words “sexual orientation, gender
identity” within the Idaho Human Rights Act which is the state’s
existing fair employment, housing and education law.

The Speaker or Pro Tem could request a hearing on the bill and it would, as you all well know, with your help, still have time to pass this year. Please.

 Nicole-COMPOSITE-2

Photos from the Road

Photos from my 2012 Campaign for U.S. Congress.

500 Volunteers. 10 Staff. 4 field offices. 2000 donors. Over $300,000 raised from regular ordinary Idahoans. 110,000 votes in one of the toughest years to run as a Democrat in Idaho. Over 1/4 million phone calls made. Over 25,000 voters contacted and logged. More votes than any Democrat has gotten in the East half of the state ever.

With my deepest respect & gratitude: Thank you all. With LOVE & hope that we can & will do better. My staff is phenomenal. We would be nothing but 10 people in a cafe without all of YOU who gave time or money to make this happen. We organized half the state in ways that helped other candidates on November 6th. The work you all did will continue to help many in the years ahead.
What will I do next. I don’t know. I do know it’s not over Idaho.
.. nicole

Stay in touch: http://4idaho.org

What to Celebrate

Nicole-field-good-crop-smEight months ago, standing in the statehouse considering whether to run for Congress, I figured I could run a good
campaign. What's amazing is that, together with thousands of you, my team ran the best campaign many have
ever seen run in Idaho. Stronger, better organized, more tech savvy, more deeply rooted in communities and more issue-focused than I could have imagined.

NUMBERS

Thirty-five percent of the vote. While that sounds dismal, it still means more than 110,000 voters chose me over Mike Simpson on Tuesday. I think that's ten thousand more votes in the east half of the state than any democrat in any congressional or statewide race has ever gotten. And in spite of how LDS enthusiasm for Mitt Romney made this one of the most difficult possible years to run as a Democrat in Idaho, it appears that our campaign brought in about 25,000 new voters to participate in this election. That's an impressive twenty-five thousand people who did not vote in the 2008 presidential race.

We engaged Idaho's powerful Hispanic community and worked so hard that Mike Simpson gained fewer than 2,000 votes from the Romney tide. In fact thousands of LDS men and women and more than 10,000 Republicans and Independents voted for me. That was the work we all did on the phones and the doors –and it mattered.

CHANGING THE DEBATE

More than anything, you all allowed me to finally have the resources to use TV and direct mail to push back on issues we so rarely get to re-define here in Idaho. I'm proud we exposed the attitudes that have led to Idaho's grim record on fair pay for women and the kind of cowardice that allowed passage of the Luna laws. We also changed the debate on budget cuts by focusing on job loss, and
explained who the job creators really are in the economy and why.

And last but not least, we've put to rest the question of whether Idahoans will actually vote for a gay person.

GRATITUDE

I feel profoundly grateful to you all. From the unemployed carpenter who gave me four dollars, to the Republican mothers,
fathers and working people who've crossed streets and sent email to tell me they
voted for me. From the long hours and tremendous heart, hard work and intelligence of my staff and volunteers, to the sense that so many of you gave your time and money because this work is something you believe in.

This has been the most amazing experience of my life. We've made history. Idaho needs us all to keep talking to neighbors over picket fences in our communities, volunteering to organize other volunteers, raising money or using phone calls to change minds on the issues we care about — perhaps to strengthen political organizations and non-profits, to run campaigns or, for many of you, to run for office yourselves.

WHAT'S NEXT

I have no idea what I'm doing next but I love this state. Sadly, Idaho has failed so many families who've faced hardship these past years, those who've lost jobs and homes or small businesses; those who've waited so long for respect and dignity or legal status; those who strive for simple security or the tools for independence; those who struggle to pay for a college degree or just to put a meal on the table.

The work is not over. What you all have done is so beautiful. Many of you came to this because you care and believe Idaho and its policy makers can do better. Lives depend on all of us using our skills to motivate friends to challenge our Idaho Congressmen, state lawmakers and local officials when policies become cruel or disrespectful.

For the lives and futures of people we care about, let's carry with us what we did this year and make this congressional campaign not an end, but a beginning.

 

Thank you. Idaho, you continue to amaze me.

Nicole-DC-bwsq

 

When I filed to run for office in March, I couldn't have
imagined what beautiful things I'd see in this state, in its people, in
the generosity and passion and kindness so many have shown me. Every
day I am humbled by how much people give to this campaign. I am humbled
by the words of encouragement from people I pass on the street, by
people who open their doors to talk about issues they care about, by
students who come and spend spare hours on phones talking to strangers
about me and what matters this election.

I'm humbled by those who gave time or any amount of money to keep
this campaign strong so that we've been able to open offices across the
district in Idaho Falls, Pocatello and Twin Falls. A few days ago we
reached an important marking point. We exceeded the amount raised by all
the Democratic challengers to Mike Simpson combined. And it will take
that and more to win on November 6. But it is an important marking
point and it shows why some of us have faith in what's possible in this
state. It also shows how serious this campaign is.

We have so much to celebrate today. We have met goals I wasn't sure
I'd be able to meet. It will take a few days to count but with the mail,
the credit card donations and pledges into our offices, we think we
will exceed what we thought possible for yesterdays deadline. Amazing.

I look around and every day I'm astounded by the creativity and hard
work of my staff and particularly the field team, and the solid
leadership of Ryan Hill, the let's get this done brilliance of Rialin
Flores my finance director and the many of you who have talked to others
or raised funds for me these past months by hosting house parties or
calling and asking friends to give.

We have a month more now to raise what it will take to buy television
and the last of our mail. So no, it's not over. I have more weeks of
torturing you all with my asks for donations.

But last night proved we can do this. The total fundraising goal of
our plan is within reach now. With new donors, more house parties, more
generosity and creativity and passion, I know now that I can raise what
it takes and run the kind of campaign it will take to win on November
6th — to become Idaho's next Congresswoman. Thanks to you, I can say I
know this now.

To all those willing to work hard for what matters to them, my deepest deepest thanks, You just continue to amaze me. 

Just 5 weeks left. For me, no resting. Back to work. Again, thank you.

…nicole

 

You can buy TV Ads here: https://secure.actblue.com/page/nicole-on-tv

 

 

Congressional Budget Cuts Decimating Jobs

Nicole 2 smile 1823As a member of the House Budget Committee today voting to oppose a
continuing resolution to keep

from shutting every federal agency and
service down, Rep. Mike Simpson does little to offer solutions to the
current budget stalemate.

As a state lawmaker who has served for four
years balancing Idaho budgets and dealing with fiscal crises, it seems
clear to me that those offering a "cuts only" approach to eliminating
the deficit and passing a budget, have created not only this impasse but
in part also created our nation's continuing economic crisis.

Over the course of the past five years federal budget cuts have
eliminated more than 600,000 American jobs. Congress still pays
unemployment benefits to a great number of these workers. We have to
ask, if job creation is the most critical key to economic recovery, why
has congress not restored these jobs so those families again have full
income to support their community's small businesses, American
manufacturers and our nation's economy?

Like many, I fear Congress these past two years has delayed addressing
real economic issues in the interest of keeping the economy down until
after the November election. Essentially they have played politics with
American lives. This sort of partisanship has decimated jobs, families,
security and the values of cooperation and compassion which made this
country great.

It is time for Congressman Simpson to do the real work of proposing a
budget that takes into account that the problem with our deficit goes
beyond simple government spending and has an equal amount to do with
fighting two wars and refusing to roll back eight years of tax cuts that
have benefited the nation's most wealthy, obviously with no positive
economic affect.

Rep. Simpson has voted more than once in favor of the Ryan Budget which
further decimates jobs while cutting and essentially privatizing social
security and Medicare for future generations of American seniors. Paul
Ryan's budget is no solution to our nation's economic problems and is
not a proposal any thinking policy maker would seriously consider as a
compromise to resolve the current budget impasse.

Yes, it is time for Congress to get to work and to take seriously the
affect that repeated cuts have on the economy. It is time for them to
look all of us in the eye and ensure for once they are not decimating
jobs more quickly than America's private sector can create them.

 

Senator Nicole LeFavour grew up on a ranch in rural Custer County in Central Idaho. She’s well-known across the state as a hard working legislator, respected advocate and teacher. In her eight years in the Idaho legislature, Senator LeFavour built strong relationships with Democratic and Republican colleagues from across the political spectrum. She earned bi-partisan support on her legislation year after year and has been formally recognized for her leadership by local and national organizations.

 

DONATIONS: https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/go-nicole

VOLUNTEER: http://4idaho.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=29&Itemid=31

INFO: http://4idaho.org

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: LeFavour announces candidacy for congress

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 10, 2012

Four-term Idaho State Senator Nicole LeFavour announced today she will seek election to the U.S. House of Representatives in Idaho’s second congressional district which encompasses North East Boise, Mountain Home, Twin Falls, Ketchum, Burley, Pocatello and Idaho Falls.

Said LeFavour in a Friday twitter post, “I’m running for Congress because I love Idaho and we can do better.”

Stepping down after eight years serving as one of Idaho’s most passionate voices in the legislature, LeFavour said of her move to run for Congress, “This is a hard time in our nation and sadly I feel Congress is not doing all it could to set our economy right. Idaho families want to feel secure about retirement, about their jobs and the opportunities their children will have. I understand that so well. We have a job to do as a nation and we have no time for partisan struggles.”

“I don’t love political parties but I am a Democrat because Democrats care about working people and families, we believe in communities and that people can pull together to overcome great obstacles. We believe that a strong public education system and a more affordable college education are the foundations of our own American dreams. I’m a democrat because I feel it’s time to recognize that the wealthy do not create jobs, ordinary families create jobs. They create jobs when they can afford their doctor bills and can replace a broken washing machine, buy clothes for their children, eat out at a restaurant, travel, or pay for a college degree.”

LeFavour was not a supporter of the Mitt Romney style health care reform adopted in Federal health reform, “No one should go bankrupt over medical bills or fear that the cost having of insurance is out of their reach. We needed to hold insurance companies accountable, not make them more powerful by mandating that everyone buy coverage and offering no other option.”

Well known statewide for her work opposing Tom Luna’s three bills which cut support for teachers to pay for laptop computers and mandatory on line classes, LeFavour is a former teacher. She grew up in rural Custer County in central Idaho where for seven years she worked in water quality, fire fighting and as a wilderness ranger for the U.S. Forest Service.

“I grew up on a ranch which was once a pretty modest place. We took in guests and raised chickens, milked cows, made butter, bread, bacon and raised a lot of vegetables. My sister waited tables in the restaurant and I worked in the kitchen. I’ve always worked hard.”
 
“Working for the forest service I saw how the federal government works. It creates a lot of important jobs for rural communities protecting our drinking water from pollution, our forests from devastating fires and making sure Idaho still has amazing places to hunt and fish. At the same time government can feel huge and can grow uncaring if we don’t have people representing us who watch out for our communities and our families.”

In the legislature LeFavour served for four years on the powerful Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee while Idaho balanced its budget through some of the worst economic times in the nation’s history. LeFavour was an advocate for Idaho’s schools and reducing prison budgets by increasing funding and access to mental health and substance abuse treatment statewide. “Balancing a budget is about cutting spending and about understanding how cuts will affect jobs, families, the economy and next year’s budget. Some cuts don’t make economic or human sense because we eliminate thousands of jobs, create greater costs in our prisons or in emergency medical care. Congress needs to recognize this.”

LeFavour continued, “We all want our tax dollars to be put to use for the betterment of our country, keeping wages livable, ensuring seniors and people with disabilities stay independent in their homes, making a college degree more meaningful and more affordable, lowering health care costs for small businesses and inspiring American companies to increase their manufacturing and create jobs here in America to make us strong again.”

Senator LeFavour can be reached for comment at208 724-0468

Those wishing to donate, volunteer or help build a base of support across eastern Idaho should contact the campaign at contactnicole@4idaho.org

I can now accept checks of $30, $60, $100, $500 or ANY amount up to $5,000 before the Primary May 15 or $2500 after May 15. P.O. Box 775 Boise 83701. The more quickly I get my first $100,000, the more likely I can win Nov. 6!

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: LeFavour will not seek another term

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feburary 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 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.”

Senator LeFavour can be reached for comment at208 724-0468
Texting is an efficient way to reach her as well.

If it Doesn’t Work

Off through the dark tonight the stathouse grounds are cold and snowless. When the gavel falls and the 2012 session begins on January 9th, I will begin my 8th year serving in the Idaho legislature. After what seem like so many years, I still come to the work with the expectation that what lies ahead holds some promise of hope. I work hard to hold onto that.

Each year is different. That is comforting. It could be better.

But going into this session I hear far too many whisperings of Republican colleagues setting their agendas and limiting the range of legislation they will support based on what they think the extreme of their party demands. This will be an eleaction year. New closed Republican primaries are unknown enough to strike fear into every moderate heart.

Tonight as vapor clings in frozen patterns on windsheids and cold cuts deep into every stone, I have a caution for my colleagues: You give them this power. With their threats will they now get everything they want? While perfectly reasonable people elected you, often by overwealming margins, will you none the less vote in the interest of the few in your districts who wish you ill and in May will seek to drive you from office regardless of how you answer their threats?

And what if you wake up tomorrow and those who elected you for your intelligence and integrity grow disgusted? What if those who purposely elected you as a moderate, a reasonable person, what if they abandon you and stay home on election day or vote for Democrats because of the compormises you made out of fear of the central committee lynch mobs down the street?

What if standing for what you believe in your heart inspires others to do the same? What if it inspires people at home in their houses to work for you, to grow passionate in their support?

Which will you really choose?

Don't bother telling me you have no choice. I see those conversations coming. Do you really think that voting the way they want will make them easier on you? Sadly, I suspect no matter how you vote those cross hairs will still be leveled at your heart.

Primary Transgression

On the floor of the Senate in afternoon session. The sun shines down from above through the frosted sky lights and we Democrats are posing a long series of questions to Brent Hill, the Senator charged with carrying the Republican Party's closed primary bill.

The bill gets personal to me. As you dig through the layers you find that not only does it allow Republicans to do as they have long wished to and close their primary races off to Democrats or even independent voters, but in fact it forces counties all over the state to reveal publicly which ballot an independent or unaffiliated voter chooses when they come to vote in any primary election — even a Democratic primary that our party will keep open to anyone.

Even worse, this choice of chosen primary ballot by an unaffiliated or independent voter will become an assigned party affiliation for that voter if they choose to vote in a primary that is closed by a party like the Republican Party. And it will not be easy for voters under this legislation to get your names again unaffiliated and  your selves once again unassociated with a political party if you perhaps don't live and die by political parties and you want instead to vote for the candidate of your choice without having a Political Party listed by your name.

But today the debate is unlike any I've seen. Many Republicans in this room smile at our questions, nod and many even laughed when Diane Bilyeu asked Senator Hill to explain why the Republican Party brought the lawsuit that forced the state to pass legislation changing its primary elections. It was a bold question and Senator Hill answered that he could not explain that.

But Senator Siddoway just now stood, clearly shaken, he broke ranks and debated how the Republican Party has forced its way into the Capitol "into our house" to make him and others pass this legislation. In the gallery, Rod Beck, former Republican Party Chair sat watching. Siddoway concluded his debate against the bill telling Senators to vote yes. Many laughed. His statement obviously adhered to whatever agreement was reached on this bill in the closed Republican caucus meeting held yesterday upstairs in the grand room facing West.

Like Senator Siddoway, I grew up in the small town wilds of rural East central Idaho where privacy is precious. This bill did not have to trample on Idaho's privacy. No court or judge or constitution dictated that it do that — but sadly that is exactly what the Republican Party has chosen that it will do, that the state will do and that we all must suffer with as this bill flies through the statehouse to become law.

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