The COVID-19 Primary

Primary Election 2020 North End and Nearby

For Ada County absentee ballot information click here.

Most people will agree politics and elections are important to Northenders. We’re one of the more engaged voting blocks in the entire state. And, amid the Coronavirus pandemic, this year’s state primary has taken on a whole new meaning. Instead of showing up at the polls, all voting is being done via absentee ballots. In fact, most of you have probably already voted!

As a qualification for how this post is written, it is abundantly clear the Ada County Republican Party (namely their Vice Chair Gloria Urwin and other “leaders”) have made it abundantly clear they’re not interested in North End issues and values. As a result we aren’t spending time reviewing or contrasting the Republican candidates in the district primaries. While we’re sure they’re good folks, one of the goals we set out with decades ago was to bring some balance to the statehouse. The North End is the place to bring balance. In 1985 we elected a Democrat named Ken Robison. Ken was a journalist and went on to serve nine terms in the Idaho House. He wrote “Defending Idaho’s Natural History” which was published in 2014. Ken passed away in 2016. Here’s more about Ken in his obituary.

Why is Ken Robison important?

The 50% Homeowners Exemption is just one example of the type of legislation Ken fostered against all odds much like we see today when Democrats stand up for principles and issues like domestic violence, gender and income equality, LGBTQ rights, healthcare, the environment and climate change, public lands and schools, reproductive and tenant rights, and more.

All of our Democratic candidates are recommended, and the races in 17 and 19 are are close calls. We’ve decided to make a couple of difficult choices based on our subjective assessment of the candidates. We really like both of the candidates we heard from but didn’t select, and we hope they continue to refine their messages and stay engaged in Idaho politics and community life. All of these candidates are holding up the high standards pioneered by Ken and those who have followed like Melissa, Mat and Cherie.

Here are the contests and selected candidates we’ve decided to feature for this primary in District’s 17, 18 and 19. Take particular note of the competitive Democratic races in Districts 17 and 19.


State Senator Democratic Primary:

The first of the contested Democratic primary contests we’re calling is between a no longer new to Boise politics Adriel Martinez and Idaho native, public interest attorney and Jesse Tree Executive Director Ali Rabe. We are excited to see someone as committed and knowledgeable about Boise causes and issues as Ali. That is what we’re throwing our support behind her in this cycle. We respect what Adrien has accomplished and here he stands as he begins to carve out a place for himself in Boise and Idaho politics. We sincerely hope he continues to make his voice heard.

Adriel Martinez of Boise

“District 17 voters should vote for me for several reasons in this upcoming primary election. I have lived in the district since 2009 and represented my district in the recent mayoral election. I have the humble background that fits in with my district and its demographics. I have been outspoken about city and county issues affecting District 17. My candidacy is all about grassroots support and I don’t boast a war chest filled with downtown money. My election would be historic and I will change what it means to be a Boise Democrat!”

Ali Rabe of Boise

Ali is an Idaho native, born in Boise and raised in Middleton, and a human rights attorney who has dedicated her career to service.

Ali met Senator Maryanne Jordan through her work in the community, and when Senator Jordan decided to retire she asked Ali to run for her seat. Senator Jordan believes Ali will bring a needed perspective and generational change to the Capitol.

Ali wanted to be a public interest attorney from a young age after seeing various challenges close friends and family members faced with the criminal justice system. She graduated from The College of Idaho, then ventured to William & Mary Law School to fulfill her dream. Since then, she has represented veterans, the accused, refugees, people experiencing homelessness, and indigenous populations abroad. She currently directs a nonprofit, Jesse Tree, which prevents eviction and homelessness.

The 2016 election sparked Ali’s desire to make more impact through local grassroots work and run for office at the state level, where there is still an opportunity to keep her home state a beautiful and equitable place to live. She is looking forward to bringing her heart for service, drive to work, big-picture thinking, and desire for an effective government to the legislature.

State Senator Republican Primary:
Gary Smith of Boise

State Representative Democratic Primary, Position A:
John Gannon of Boise (incumbent)

State Representative Republican Primary, Position A:
Brittany Love of Boise

State Representative Democratic Primary, Position B
Sue Chew of Boise (incumbent)

State Representative Republican Primary, Position B
Anthony Dephue of Boise


State Senator Democratic Primary:
Janie Ward-Engelking of Boise (incumbent)

State Senator Republican Primary:
Mark Bost of Boise
Joseph Crowell of Boise
Hilary Lee of Boise

State Representative Democratic Primary, Position A:
Ilana Rubel of Boise (incumbent)

State Representative Republican Primary, Position A:
Gary Childe of Boise

State Representative Democratic Primary, Position B:
Brooke Green of Boise (incumbent)

State Representative Republican Primary, Position B:
Pete Thomas of Boise


State Senator Democratic Primary:
Melissa Wintrow of Boise

State Senator Republican Primary:
Aaron Tribble of Boise

State Representative Democratic Party, Position A:
Lauren Necochea of Boise (incumbent)

State Representative Republican Party, Position A:
Jim Feederle of Boise

State Representative Democratic Party, Position B:

We have a long history with Chris Mathias and are excited to have him run for Melissa’s seat in the Idaho legislature. He is accomplished in so many ways, they’re hard to count. His kindness, experience and proven leadership are what makes him a great choice for District 19 and all of Idaho. We also want to congratulate Jeff Gabica on his candidacy and commitment to North End values. He made the choice very hard indeed. They have, between them, two wonderful smiles.

Jeff Gabica of Boise

“I have been an activist all my life and I am so excited to have a chance to recognized marginalized communities, including the Latinx community and LGBT people like me. I have spent time this session, opposing the anti-inclusion bills and I have a long history of Activism. I have fought for those living with HIV and AIDS, stood up against the Trump Presidency for women’s rights, and I supported the movement to protect the foothills in my own, literal, back yard. Your vote is greatly appreciated in the May 19th Democratic Primary.”

Chris Mathias of Boise

“Hello, I’m Chris Mathias! I’m proud to be running for the seat recently vacated by my friend Melissa Wintrow. Here in D19, we need a smart, dedicated, and strategic team of legislators, one that will continue to effectively fight for our values in an often-hostile Statehouse and find significant, long-shot wins at the margin. I know some things about overcoming difficult odds.

As the bi-racial son of people struggling with addiction, raised in a rural New England community, I lived through bouts of racial prejudice and poverty. After high school, I enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard, where I earned multiple commendations while learning discipline and how to truly function as part of a team.

The GI Bill brought me to Boise State where I thrived: I became the University’s first McNair Scholar, served as student body president, and interned at the Idaho Supreme Court to support the early days of Idaho’s problem-solving drug courts.

I went on to earn a J.D. and Ph.D in Law and Public Policy, and I’ve served as a U.S. Senate law clerk and lecturer at Northeastern University. More recently, I was the Chief Academic Officer for the Idaho State Board of Education and in my current role, I help build and maintain Idaho’s standards achievement system. I’m uniquely qualified to advance some of my party’s education goals. I live with my wife Katie and our (now-homeschooled but still) amazing children here in the North End.

I’m a realist and know that Democrats and progressives don’t get things done at our Statehouse by sheer force of will. We have to be relentlessly strategic, know how to navigate the law and lawmaking process, build coalitions, and treat public service like a full-time job. That’s the type of lawmaker I intend to be, and why I’m humbly asking for the honor of your vote in the May Democratic primary. I’m ready to dig in and fight for stronger schools and healthcare access, to defend our warming climate and civil rights, and to show up every day for Idaho’s people.”

Note: Charlene Taylor of Boise withdrew

State Representative Republican Party, Position A:
James Jacobson of Boise
Gary Parent II of Boise

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