Did you know that seven IEA members are running for office in Idaho? Five are retired members and two are actively teaching. This is the first in a series of questions we posed to these members about their run for office. First up, Representative Donna Pence. First elected in 2004, Rep. Pence lives in Gooding and is running for house seat 26B.
1. What inspired you to run for office?
I blame Wendy Jaquet. We both belong to a teaching society. I piped up about a policy issue at a meeting, and Wendy said “Put your money where your mouth is; run for office.” She was right, and here I am.
2. Tell us a bit about your teaching experience.
I’m a retired PE teacher. I taught about 20 years. Early on I taught in Pocatello, Buhl, and Boise (Borah). Then we moved to Gooding where I taught for 16 years.
3. In what ways does your teaching experience make you a better legislator?
You have a lot of empathy. You understand the plight of a lot of people. I have seen families in need, rough situations. Teaching also helps you be a better planner. You learn how to plan ahead and get things done, which helps at the legislature. Still, sometimes things don’t go as anticipated, and you have to change plans. This happens in teaching, too. Being a good teacher means you sometimes to approach situations by seat of your pants, and this happens in the legislature, too.
4. What legislative issues are you most passionate about?
I’m really passionate about education. You almost have to be a teacher to understand how things work best. Businesspeople don’t always understand as well, they haven’t been in the classroom. I’m also passionate about natural resources. My husband and I used to do a lot of hiking.
5. What do you do when you’re not campaigning or legislating?
Last year we climbed Mount McCaleb just down from Mount Borah. We like to hunt and fish and used to do a lot of rafting and canoeing.
Representative Pence and family atop Mt. McCaleb last summer