Former Olympian and retired engineer Dick Fosbury made a formal announcement in Bellevue Monday that he intends to run for a seat in the state Legislature, representing District 26.
Fosbury will be running on the Democratic ticket, along with Sen. Michelle Stennett and Rep. Donna Pence, the second District 25 representative. He will presumably run against Republican Rep. Steve Miller, from Fairfield, who currently holds the seat. The election will take place in November.
Fosbury emphasized his intention to increase spending for education and infrastructure maintenance in Idaho, a move that he said would increase household incomes.
“Politics is more social, which is more complicated.”
“It is time to raise the bar,” he said Monday, during a meeting of about 20 campaign supporters at Oak Street Foods, on the corner of Main and Oak streets. “We can do better than the bottom of the country in education spending. We can do better than the bottom of the country in household incomes. Some families are working two or three jobs to get by.”
Known affectionately as “Foz” in the Wood River Valley, where he has lived and worked as an engineer for 36 years, Fosbury is known around the world as a legendary Olympian who brought the innovative “Fosbury Flop” to the high-jump event.
He was the first to cross over the bar backwards in competition, rather than forwards or with a scissor-kick, winning a gold medal at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.
Despite his success at sports, Fosbury described himself during an interview as a bit of a geek.
“I love games and mathematical problems,” he said. “Engineering is very project-oriented. I like problem solving. That is my personality.”
Fosbury put those skills to use while working in appointed positions as a civil engineer for the cities of Ketchum and Sun Valley. He currently sits on the Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission and is beginning a review of the county’s comprehensive plan.
Fosbury has served in public office before. He is past president and currently serves on the Executive Committee of the World Olympians Association. He is vice president of the United States Olympians Association. He travels the world as an Olympic ambassador.
He has also traveled around the state completing engineering projects, which he said allowed him to learn “how people in Idaho think.”
Yet, running for a seat in the state Legislature could provide new challenges.
“Politics is more social, which is more complicated, but I am looking forward to the challenge,” he said.
Retired Idaho Rep. Wendy Jaquet, who used to hold the seat Fosbury is seeking, attended the event, saying she is “delighted” that he is running.
“I know he will work hard,” Jaquet said.
Fosbury touted his engineering expertise as a qualification for office, saying he knows firsthand the dangers of deferring maintenance of infrastructure. He spearheaded a successful campaign in Blaine County last year to repair the Wood River Trails system.
A news release issued by his campaign manager, Kathryn Goldman, stated that the trail project will provide “significant savings to the community by repairing the trail in 2014 and 2015, rather than delaying the project.”
Fosbury said Monday that spending more on infrastructure projects around the state, including school buildings and highways, would bring more high-salary jobs to Idaho.
“We are not sure if he will have a [Democratic Party] primary challenger yet,” said campaign supporter and former Blaine County Commissioner Tom Bowman, who also showed up in support of Fosbury in Bellevue on Monday.
Bowman said Fosbury will have to win over voters not only in predominantly Democratic Blaine County, but also in Camas, Lincoln and Gooding counties, where many voters tend to lean toward Republican candidates.
“When he asked for my help, I asked him if he would be willing to work hard to get elected, to go face to face with voters and knock on doors,” Bowman said. “His answer was unequivocally, ‘Yes.’”
Fosbury lives with his wife, Robin Tomasi, on a 20-acre farm south of Bellevue.