Idaho, one of the nation’s most proudly red states, has few places where it’s easy to be a Democratic politician. Of 105 seats in the State Legislature, Republicans hold 80. Statewide, the most prominent exception to Republican strength is District 19, which encompasses downtown Boise, the North End, East End and Foothills. District 19 is “Idaho’s most powerful Democratic bastion” according to the leadership of both the Democratic and Republican parties.
It’s important for us to know, understand and support the people who represent us. If not for them, there are literally thousands of Idahoans across the state that would lack the basic representation they deserve because of who they are and where they’ve come from.
District 19 is led by Cherie Buckner-Webb. She’s a fifth-generation Idahoan, brings a wealth of administrative skills developed in large local companies and as a small business owner, along with numerous endorsements from groups and businesses, as well as a list of achievements in community activism as long as your arm. Words like “diversity”, “tolerance” and “acceptance” (better yet) are the norm in our district, so many who live here are surprised Cherie is the first African-American elected to state office in Idaho.
Cherie loves the North End. In a 2010 interview she said:
“I’ve lived here since I was 5 years old, and I purposefully chose this district to live in—not just for politics, but for what this district offers. The old-fashioned neighborhood thing draws a lot of people across the spectrum, both Republican and Democrat.”
First the story! In 1996 Melissa rode her bike across the United States with two guys 4,000 miles from the Pacific to the Atlantic. During the bike trip they came through Boise and rode through downtown and “there was just nothing there”. Many of us can remember just 20 years ago, there was actually almost nothing there.. But Melissa said “Gosh, this is a cute town. I could live here.” and it was the only place she said what during the entire trip. Long story short, one of the guys ended up Melissa’s husband and their journey together brought them back to Boise. To read Melissa’s fun story – click here.
In a February 2015 profile in the Boise Weekly, District 19 Representative Melissa Wintrow was characterized as “the Idaho legislature’s new ‘Ironwoman'”… and rightly so.
Melissa came to Boise to work at Boise State University as the school’s first Women’s Center director in 2000. She headed up Boise State’s faculty-in-residence program. Despite not seeing politics in her future when she first came to Boise and took up residence in the North End, she was elected in 2014 to represent District 19. I love this quote from the Boise Weekly article:
“I have 45,000 people that I’m representing, and the most important things that came out during the campaign were education, Add the Words and disdain for the Ag-Gag law. But I want people to walk toward me, not be pulled toward me; and it’s my obligation to demonstrate to others that I’m not a stereotype.”
“The final test for me of the legitimacy of the [mountaineering] experience is ‘How well does your experience of the sacred in nature enable you to cope more effectively with the problems of mankind when you come back to the city?” – Willi Unsoeld
Rep. Erpelding gets nature and the outdoors. To say he is a “rugged individualist” would be an understatement. Mat taught at the College of Western Idaho training teachers to use “experiential education” in the classroom. Before that he worked in Student Affairs at Boise State University, California State University, Chico, Evergreen State College, and Texas Tech University. Mat also co-edited a text for outdoor leadership programs called Outdoor Program Administration.
Mat moved to Idaho in 1993 to attend Idaho State University and has lived in Boise since 2006 and continues to be a a high-altitude mountain guide. In fact he’s reached the 20,320 ft summit of Denali 4 out 5 attempts. His love for Idaho comes out of his love for the outdoors and has been a strong advocate for open space, public lands and outdoor recreation. He’s equally passionate about social and economic issues like Add the Words, minimum wage, student loans and more.
“When you’re by yourself with your thoughts, it’s a strange experience.” During his long stretches of isolation, Erpelding, who has a quick wit, sometimes imagined his personal worst case scenario: a newspaper headline that said “Unarmed Idaho Democrat Eaten by Wolves.”
Support Your District 19 Team
When we look across the spectrum of ideologies that exist in Idaho, there is nothing that compares with the honesty Cherie brings to her position of leadership. Melissa is a feminist and peace maker, and Matt gets the broad scope of issues facing the people of Idaho. Our District 19 team is just as invested in how we treat our rugged environment and its inhabitants, to building a just and brighter future for everyone.
As Cherie reminds us that Northenders in general “thrive on diversity in socio-economics, ethnicity and other aspects of everyday life.”