Boise Democratic Rep. Janie Ward-Engelking will be relocating her Statehouse office belongings from the East Wing to the West Wing, and will soon have a new prefix: state senator.
Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter appointed Ward-Engelking Dec. 20 to District No. 18's Idaho Senate vacancy left by the resignation of Boise Sen. Branden Durst last month.
"I thought about it long and hard before I put my name in," Ward-Engelking told Boise Weekly as she was awaiting word on the appointment. Ward-Engelking was one of three names submitted by District 18 precinct committee members as possible appointees.
"I have absolutely loved the House; coming in this year with a whole new group of freshmen was pretty fun. We had a lot of camaraderie." Ward-Engelking told BW. "I will definitely be the newbie on the Senate side."
Ward-Engelking will become one of only five women in the Idaho Senate and one of only seven Democrats, including Boise Democratic Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb.
"She's amazing," Buckner-Webb told BW in anticipation of the Dec. 20 announcement. "I hope the 2014 session will be a kinder, gentler session."
District 18 precinct committee members are expected to reconvene sooner than later to put together another short list, this time to make recommendations to fill Ward-Engelking's seat in the Idaho House.
Meanwhile, Boise District No. 15 Republican precinct committee members will be meeting soon to choose three possible appointees to take the seat of Boise GOP Rep. Mark Patterson, who submitted his resignation to Otter this past week after precinct committee members issued a "no confidence" vote in Patterson's leadership.
Patterson has been a controversial figure almost from the moment that Boiseans in District 15 first elected him to the House in November 2012. A few weeks after his win, it was revealed that Patterson's official biography didn't jibe with the truth. Among other things, he wrongly claimed he was a graduate of the University of Southern California and seemingly stretched the facts with a reference to his time as a “professional road-racing cyclist.”
Then, in a November investigation by the Idaho Statesman's Dan Popkey, it was revealed that Patterson had been arrested in Florida during the 1970s on a charge of rape. Patterson pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of “assault with intent” in exchange for a withheld judgment and five years’ probation, from which he was released after only two years.