By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
Boise attorney Terri Pickens Manweiler announced her intent Wednesday to join the 2022 race for the open lieutenant governor’s seat in Idaho.
Pickens Manweiler, a Democrat, is the only member of her party to join the race so far, while the Republican race has three candidates.
She made the announcement at the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial and Sen. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, introduced her.
“She understands the heart and soul of this state,” Wintrow said. “And as I talk to her, she says ‘From the sidelines, it is not a pretty picture.’ Idaho deserves better and we deserve someone in that office who legitimizes it. Who gives it credibility. Somebody who comes to this office with the heart and soul of problem solving.”
Pickens Manweiler said she chose the memorial as the site for her announcement because she believes in its mission. Anne Frank believed in the good in people, even in the worst of times, she said.
As she approached the podium, Pickens Manweiler started her speech by saying “I am not a politician, I have never been a politician. I’m a small business owner. I’m a volunteer, I’m a wife, I’m a mother. I’m running because I have a vision for Idaho. The Idaho I was born in, the Idaho I was raised in, and the Idaho where I chose to raise my children.”
She stressed that it is time for unity, not division. She believes in the need for new leadership and doing away with “political theatre.”
The campaign announcement focused on the importance of public education, economic growth, public lands and civil rights across the state.
“Idaho needs a voice of reason, a voice for change and a voice for hope,” Pickens Manweiler said. “It’s time Idahoans start voting for leaders who actually have their interests at heart.”
Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin is running for governor and her current seat will soon be up for grabs. In the Republican primary race, House Speaker Scott Bedke, Rep. Priscilla Giddings, and former House representative and attorney Luke Malek have announced their candidacy.
Pickens Manweiler said she plans to put education first, saying she supports pre-K education, full-time kindergarten, and full access to education in rural areas, calling children “the future of Idaho.”
“Public education is critical to ensure that all Idahoans have an equal opportunity to learn and get a head start in life,” she said. “In order to be a successful state, we must first have successful citizens.”
When asked about McGeachin and Giddings’ Education Task Force, which focuses on allegations of indoctrination or critical race theory being taught in public schools, Pickens Manweiler criticized the idea.
“To me it’s political theatre,” she said.”Because frankly, this task force is not doing anything other than introducing the boogeyman into public education that quite frankly doesn’t exist. The first time I heard of anything related to critical race theory I was a third-year student in law school.”
Pickens Manweiler said schools are not teaching critical race theory. She said they are teaching history, and it’s up to the boards of education to decide what children will learn.
“I believe (teachers) and I trust them to teach my children,” she said. “I don’t trust a task force meant for political theatre to guide and force any type of issue on my children. My children deserve to learn the facts, they deserve to learn science and they deserve to learn the actual and factual history.”
The State Board of Education has repeatedly said they have seen no evidence of indoctrination in schools.
Pickens Manweiler said she is running for lieutenant governor because she’s not afraid to use her voice. She did criticize McGeachin for reports that she was not speaking regularly with the governor.
She said she plans on using her voice to work with the Land Board’s influence on public lands.
“As a native Idahoan I’ve spent a great deal of time in the public lands, from hiking, camping, fishing, whitewater rafting, skiing and recreating,” Pickens Manweiler said. “…We must protect and preserve that for future generations.”
She wants to get back to bipartisan efforts, saying it is still possible and used to be the norm. Pickens Manweiler was confident she could work with either a Democrat or Republican governor, depending on who wins that race in 2022.