Idaho gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan was upbeat and positive during a fundraising speech south of Ketchum in Gimlet subdivision Monday. She touted her indigenous values and a willingness to take on corporate interests to bolster education, medical care and social services in rural communities.
In the crowd of about 150 people were Idaho Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, Rep. Sally Toone, D-Gooding, and former state Sen. John Peavey, who recently took over as campaign treasurer for Jordan.
Peavey said that due to current disfavor with President Trump, the fall election could be a “watershed election.”
“It’s a whole new deck of cards now,” he said.
Jordan is facing incumbent Lt. Gov. Brad Little in the fall election for the Idaho governor’s seat. She said during her 30-minute speech that she has been underestimated by some analysts who said she could never win because she was woman, a Democrat and a person of color.
‘They say I have no experience—they didn’t look at my résumé,” she said. “They certainly didn’t know the family I came from, the elders who raised me, formidable.”
According to information on the internet, Jordan’s great-greatgrandfather, Chief Moses of the Sinkiuse-Columbia tribe, met with President Rutherford B. Hayes in Washington, D.C., in 1879. Another of her great-great-grandfathers, Chief Kamiakin of the Yakama, Palouse and Klickitat tribes, led the Yakima War of 1855-1858 and never surrendered.
“When you have the spirit and wherewithal and connectedness, there is no way that you can lose. This is not arrogance, this is our reality,” she said.
Jordan stepped down in February after serving four years in the Idaho House of Representatives. She was the youngest member of the Coeur d’Alene Nation ever elected to its tribal council, on which she faced the challenges of operating a sovereign government. Jordan is serving her third term as senior executive board representative, finance chair and energy initiative chair for the National Indian Gaming Association, a nationwide nonprofit with a mission to “protect and preserve the general welfare of tribes striving for self-sufficiency through gaming enterprises in Indian Country.”
Jordan said that as an elected official in the Statehouse, she saw people “misappropriating” funds, but gave no specifics.
“A lot of that [tax] money was going back to the privileged few,” she said. “People are taking for themselves and not respecting our individuality and our sovereign ways to have this beautiful way of life.”
Jordan provided few specific actions she would take to address what she said was a “broken mess” in the state government that has “suppressed” people for 40 years.
“We have extremely high [insurance] premiums. We have not expanded Medicaid. And on top of that, we are very rural, so if you are from rural Idaho, the clinics are few and far between. Trauma centers are few and far between … the state has a lot of work to do.”
Jordan said she would draw on her Native American values to serve Idahoans.
‘My grandparents did good without ever saying bad things about anybody,” she said. “When someone was having a drug issue or a mental health concern, they didn’t judge them, they just went there and helped them because they saw where the need was. So we should see where the needs are and we know where to go to address them.”
Despite her forebears’ reticence to speak badly of others, Jordan had some comments about the current Republican leadership.
“Every day I wake up and read the news and see a president and his base that continues to harm, not only our land and our wildlife, but our children and our elderly,” Jordan said. “Being responsible is about appropriating funds and resources that are taken out of people’s pockets and funneling them back into the people. We simply shift resources back towards education … toward families that need health care. It shouldn’t be that hard.”
Jordan said this could be accomplished “without raising a dime” on the working families of Idaho.
Jordan has pointed to the legalization of marijuana as a way to increase the state’s tax revenue.
On July 8, The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., reported that “[t]he benefit would be twofold, she argued, because it would create a new revenue source while also freeing up funds that have increasingly gone to Idaho’s growing prison population.”
“We don’t have time to waste. I don’t have time to waste. This is our opportunity,” she said Monday. “The Republican national party knows that once we flip Idaho, we flip the entire country. They are smart enough to know that, but they are not smart enough to acknowledge peace relations across the world.”
During an interview following her speech, Jordan said she is “big on local control” over natural resources, something she learned about in detail when studying state and local government at Harvard University while in state office. She said what she learned there resonates with the issue of “sovereignty” among tribal nations.
“Sovereignty means you can live by your own gods, with your own foods and not be bothered by outside leadership,” she said. “Indigenous people have a different perspective of what land means. It is beyond money and greed. We are here on borrowed land that is for our children. This is not a political position. We raise our children to be good stewards of the land.”
Jordan said she would make it a priority to pass legislation that would allow more participation from local communities in permit leasing for natural-gas and mining industries.
She said a current example would be to not allow oil and gas company Alta Mesa to “write its own rules” with regard to well drilling in Idaho.
“Fracking can impact properties miles away,” she said. “We should instead be building on the beauty of our lands, which brings tourism.”
Jordan said she sees Idahoans as “one family” yet respects individualism.
“My grandparents would say you can always tell who the chief is because he is always giving. I look at politics the same way. The chief is at the bottom and the people come first.”