Former Idaho lawmaker and Controller Donna Jones made her first major public appearance Wednesday after a May car wreck caused serious injuries that prompted her resignation in October.
Jones, 73, was showered with affection by attendees at the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho's annual conference.
"How are you?" said Lt. Gov. Brad Little, one of dozens of well-wishers who bent down to hug the 4-foot-10 Jones before lunch. "It's great to have you here."
A former chairwoman of the House Revenue & Taxation Committee from Payette, Jones stepped down Oct. 15 to focus on her rehabilitation. She said she's an inch shorter after surgery to fuse her spine.
Gov. Butch Otter appointed her chief deputy, Brandon Woolf, to complete her term, which expires in January 2015. After Otter's luncheon remarks, he acknowledged Jones and the crowd stood to applaud.
Jones said she purposely choose the ATI conference, a tradition start to the legislative season.
"This is my coming out party," she said. "I've been coming to Associated Taxpayers since 1988 and I just wanted to come and say 'hello' to my old friends."
Jones was accompanied by another former Rev & Tax chairwoman, retired Rep. Dolores Crow of Nampa, and a longtime secretary for the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, Kathyrn Yost.
Jones is living in Boise during her rehabilitation, but said her family is keeping her home up for when she's ready to return. "My kids weeded the yard this fall. My family has been absolutely wonderful."
Dan Goicoechea, Jones's former chief deputy, said Tuesday that he'll be returning to the controller's office as Woolf's chief deputy. Goicoechea has been working as a lobbyist for Paris Hills Agricom, which mines phosphate in Bear Lake County. Goicoechea also was chief deputy to former Controller Keith Johnson, who Jones replaced in 2007.