What does the election mean for conservation in the legislature?


Watching last Tuesday’s results come in hit us a bit differently this year. There’s always the buzz, the emotion, the excitement as the ballots are counted… but this year, the stakes were high, and it was palpable. CVI is involved in Idaho politics at every level, from local offices to the statehouse, and we support our endorsed candidates through all the steps, start to finish. From recruiting and training for the race to the congratulations or condolences afterwards – we’re here. 

In this election, 26 of CVI’s endorsed candidates earned the honor to serve in public office. From county commissioners to ACHD to the legislature, conservation champions were a top priority for Idaho voters once again. Here are some key legislative wins from November 8:

  • District 15 in West Boise is now purple. CVI worked hard in support of our endorsed candidates in legislative district 15. Rick Just secured a seat in the state Senate, flipping a district we’ve been working in for nearly a decade. Just has an extensive resume in conservation, including roles with the Department of Parks & Recreation and with Friends of Idaho State Parks. His knowledge and expertise on land use and open space will be a significant asset in advancing conservation policy for Idaho communities. 
  • CVI-endorsed candidates will serve in both the Senate and House in the upcoming legislative session, including full slates of endorsed candidates in Districts 16, 18, and 19. James Ruchti, representing District 29, will move up to the Senate. There are also several districts where CVI has strong relationships with 2 of 3 legislators. Each of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts has two representatives and one senator, and with friends in districts across the state, there’s opportunity to build even deeper relationships and work to uphold conservation values in Idaho.  
  • CVI’s endorsement process isn’t reserved for the general election. We also support candidates in the primary. In May, our efforts secured a victory for Phil McGrane, who went on to earn more votes statewide than any other candidate in Idaho. During the 2022 session, attacks on the ballot box were nearly constant, with multiple bills designed to limit voters’ access to elections. With a solid Secretary of State in office, we don’t foresee the same defensive work. Instead, we’ll be working with McGrane to address any deficiencies in Idaho elections and confirm Idaho’s safe and secure elections. 

It’s important to recognize that one in every three legislators will be new. With so many rookies in the Statehouse, there are opportunities to deepen relationships with our endorsed candidates who won, but also with those who are new to CVI or may not have heard of us before. In a world with so much division, one thing uniting us is a shared value for Idaho’s natural spaces. There’s opportunity to recognize this shared value and build our conservation priorities with new individuals and groups in the upcoming session. In the remaining weeks before January 9th we’ll be busy making introductions and reminding all legislators that conservation is important to Idahoans statewide. It’s exciting to think of so many eager individuals ready to serve their constituents! 

Along with celebrations, we are also looking closely at what didn’t go as planned. Most notable is the passage of constitutional amendment SJR102. Giving the legislature the ability to call themselves into session – with no limits on length – is a big loss. The potential cost to taxpayers is large, as each day of legislative work costs taxpayers around $30,000. CVI will need to be ready for special sessions with little or no notice to the public, and the possibility of a full time legislative body. 

After our staff and volunteers unwind from what was an incredible feat, we’ll look onward to the next round of work – municipal elections. All that buzz, emotion, and excitement will return, and CVI will be there supporting conservation champions every step of the way.