Idaho politics: And the Republicans make their (new) redistricting commission picks

Republicans have picked two former lawmakers and the widow of a state GOP chairman to sit on the new, re-formed redistricting commission, which begins its work Wednesday.

Former state Reps. Dolores Crow and Randy Hansen were named today, joining longtime GOP activist Sheila Olsen of Idaho Falls.

I've covered all three in my various stops around the state. Olsen's GOP credentials are unquestioned, but she is a fair and independent thinker. The same can be said for Hansen. Crow, of Nampa, is probably the best-known of the GOP appointees, especially here in the Treasure Valley. The longtime chairwoman of the powerful House Revenue and Taxation Committee, Crow wasn't exactly what one would call a consensus-builder. It will be interesting to see how she works on a committee split between three Republicans and three Democrats.

Last week, the Democrats named former state Sen. Ron Beitelspacher of Grangeville, former state Rep. Elmer Martinez of Pocatello, and Boisean Shauneen Grange to the panel.

Here's the GOP news release:

Idaho Republicans announced their appointments to the Idaho Redistricting Commission today. House Speaker Lawerence Denney has appointed Dolores Crow of Nampa, Senate President Pro Tempore Brent Hill has appointed Sheila Olsen of Idaho Falls, and State Chairman Norm Semanko has appointed Randy Hansen of Twin Falls.

The Commission will convene on Sept. 28 at 9 a.m. in the Idaho Capitol Building. As required by the Idaho Constitution, the Commission will have 90 days to redraw all of the district boundaries for Idaho’s two congressional districts and the state legislative districts.

In response to their appointments, State Chairman Norm Semanko, Senate Pro Tem Brent Hill, and House Speaker Lawerence Denney issued the following joint statement:

“We are pleased that quality individuals, with diverse talents, such as Randy Hansen, Sheila Olsen and Dolores Crow are willing to put aside their personal lives for a time and to serve the people of Idaho through the redistricting process. We are optimistic that these commissioners will be able to effectively reach across the aisle to work with the commissioners appointed by the Democrat leaders and to agree on Congressional and legislative boundaries that will serve all Idahoans well for the next 10 years.

We would also like to thank the members of the previous redistricting commission: Dr. Lorna Finman, Lou Esposito and Evan Frasure for their hard work and commitment to the redistricting process, and mostly for their efforts and attempts to reach an agreement with the Democrat commissioners. Commissioners Finman, Esposito and Frasure should be commended for their good-faith efforts, and the Idaho Republican Party is grateful for their service.”

Below are short bios of the commissioners:

• Sheila Olsen is a long-time community activist and is heavily involved in the Idaho Republican Party. Sheila has been a prominent player in the Idaho political arena at both professional and volunteer levels for many years, including being selected as an elector from Idaho, where she cast one of four votes in 1988 for George H.W. Bush. Sheila chairs the Development Workshop Foundation Board, a non-profit rehabilitation organization, and is a charter member of the Idaho Falls Mayor’s Race Relation Ambassadors. She also sat on the Brigham Young University Alumni Board for five years. Sheila is the widow of former State GOP Chairman Dennis Olsen, and is the mother of 10 children, 37 grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren. Sheila currently resides in Idaho Falls.

• Randy Hansen is a former state legislator from Legislative District 23, and is currently a small business owner in Twin Falls. Randy served as the first president of Valley House, a homeless shelter to help families and individuals in need, as well serving on many boards, including Twin Falls Public Library, the American Red Cross; Randy also currently serves as Chairman of the 5th District CASA. Randy is a graduate of Brigham Young University, and has been married to his wife, Kathy Jo King, since 1978.

• Dolores Crow is a former state legislator who served in the Idaho House of Representatives from 1983 to 2006. During her time in the Legislature, Dolores chaired both the House Revenue and Taxation and Environmental Affairs Committees. Dolores is currently a commissioner on the Idaho Hispanic Commission and the Idaho Capitol Commission, as well as currently serving as a member of the Permanent Building Fund Advisory Council. Dolores currently resides in Nampa, where she is active in her community and Crossroads Community Church in Nampa.

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