BOISE — At the age of 38, Paulette Jordan is among the youngest candidates to ever run for Idaho's highest office. If she were to be elected she would not only become the state's first female governor, but the country's first Native American woman to serve as governor of any state.
In our series of one-on-one interviews with the candidates, we get to know the Democrat from Plummer in north Idaho who believes the time for dramatic changes in our state is now.
This second-term state representative says she has her finger on the pulse of the state. And she says that once people get by the fact that she is a 38-year-old female, Native American Democrat that they'll see she has a plan for real change in Idaho.
"It’s not about age, my gender, status, racial background ... it's simply the fact that I am someone that they can believe in as a true leader of the people," Jordan said.
And, she says that leadership would begin with education.
"You know it’s unfortunate that we have a governor and we have a current leadership body who does not see investment in our schools as a priority."
She says the state needs to increase teacher incentives to keep the good ones from leaving Idaho for better pay across the border.
And she says she would also fix the crumbling schools in the rural parts of the state.
"I think there’s a multiple level of abilities for us to address in terms of building a plan, a blueprint, if you will, that will help them not just be more prosperous but be successful and be able to compete in the broader world," Jordan said.
Closing Idaho’s health care gap is also a priority for her, with Medicaid expansion at the top of her list.
"It's unfortunate that we would choose not to expand Medicaid in the state primarily because of a political position or how that would appear in the public eye," she said "I think you have to look beyond that and think of our humanity at large and what it is to say that every single citizen in Idaho has the right to health care.”
Jordan said another priority for her is the state’s crumbling infrastructure.
“Beyond education and health care I would certainly say that building up our main streets will be a priority because we're looking at building up the economy in the state," she said. "You have a lot of main streets in rural Idaho that are being ignored. So, for me, as a businesswoman, a mother, someone raised out in the countryside I’d like to see the revitalization of our cities, our small cities especially in our rural towns and a lot of that has to do with connecting our infrastructure."
Jordan said she believes it’s time for real and dramatic change in one of the West's fastest-growing states, and that the current path is the wrong path.
"It goes beyond just livable wages and access to quality health care," she said. "We have major issues in this state that are really, truly affecting people. You have a drug crisis and you have many issues you see at the national level being brought home, so all of these conversations need to be addressed and it’s not just about the wealth or the economy of this state. You have to look at internal structure of our society and make sure that those ills are also being addressed."
And when asked about a celebrity endorsement from Cher that she recently received while speaking at a women's rally in Las Vegas, the question was raised:
"A better campaign walk-up song as you're coming up to address a crowd: 'If I Could Turn Back Time,' or 'I’ve Got You Babe.?'"
"Ha-ha...ok, let's see...not my generation...but I would say 'I’ve Got You Babe' because I have every single Idahoan’s back. I will do whatever it takes to fight to ensure that every single Idahoan and our future generations have the best and the brightest in the United States."
Jordan stepped down from her District 5 legislative seat last week to concentrate on her campaign.
Gov. Butch Otter will appoint a Democratic replacement who will serve the remainder of Jordan’s term, which ends after November.
Jordan will face off against Boise’s A.J. Balukoff in the Democratic Primary Election on May 15.