Shawn Keough

Shawn Keough
Legislative District 1 - Senator, incumbent

Age: 47

City of residence: Kootenai

Years of residence in Bonner County and Idaho: 27

Marital status/family: Married 19 years; two teenage sons

Contact information:


Education: I completed and graduated high school in 1978. I have attended North Idaho College and Lewis Clark State College majoring in Business Management. Having a family and a career has slowed my work towards my goal of graduating from college.

Recent or pertinent employment history: In addition to serving as the State Senator for District One since 1996, I currently work for the Associated Logging Contractors, Inc. (ALC). I have been employed at the ALC since 2000 as their executive director. The ALC is a statewide organization of logging contractors. Our organization provides safety supplies and consulting and our subsidiaries and affiliates provide insurance programs for loggers. Previous to working with the ALC, I spent over 12 years with the Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce. My major work and employment background is in management and public relations.

Public offices held: I was first elected to the Idaho State Senate in 1996. I have been successfully re-elected to the office for 5 two year terms. I am seeking a sixth term in the State Senate. I have not served in other public offices.

Relevant professional affiliations:

Nonprofit groups or service organizations to which candidate belongs

Relevant experience: My service in the state senate and my work in the private sector has provided me the experience and background needed to succeed in fulfilling the duties of the office of the state senator for district one. I serve as Vice Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee (the senate side of the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee – JFAC – which is the powerful budget committee of the legislature), senior member of the Senate Transportation Committee, and member of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. I also was appointed by Senate leadership to the position of Co-Chair of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee (JLOC). JLOC oversees the work of the Office of Performance Evaluations. This arm of the legislature is entrusted with conducting evaluations of state agencies and policies to ascertain if the work of the people is being carried out appropriately by state agencies.

Why are you running for public office?

I am running for re-election because I have made a positive difference for our area. I have helped to get roads built, schools better funded, economic development efforts underway so that there are more jobs in our area and worked to overhaul our property tax system and to relieve the burden of property taxes. I believe that my experience and proven ability to move our issues forward are positive attributes that I can continue to offer in service to the people of our area.

If you are elected, how much time will you spend each week in the office?

The Idaho State Legislature is a “citizens legislature”. As such, it is a so-called “part-time” legislature.  Legislators meet “in-session” in the state capitol – Boise – in the months of January, February and March.  The rest of the time legislators are at home in their communities and unless independently wealthy or retired, are working at their occupations.  There is work that constituents call upon their legislators to do “off-session”.  If re-elected I will continue my record of service which includes attendance and active participation in legislative sessions, interim committee assignments and constituent service.  I am on call basically 24/7, 365 days a year and accessible to each of my constituents to carry out the duties and responsibilities that come with being the state senator.

Describe the top three to five issues you believe are most important, why you consider them most important, and your position on these issues.

I believe that continued work on property taxes, overhaul of the entire tax structure, continued improvement of roads and bridges, a strong education system and continued economic development are among the issues that are critically important to our area.

I believe these issues to be important as our local citizens have communicated with me that these are among the priority concerns for them.  Property taxes and the wild market valuation increases we are seeing have seriously concerned me and many in our area.  There are people who feel that they will be forced to sell their homes and move because of the increases.  I believe that it is not right to have a tax policy that would force people from their homes.  I have worked to provide changes to our property tax system to provide relief but we need more.  I support a variety of different approaches to accomplish this.  At a minimum I am working for sales price disclosure.  If Idaho is to continue to be a “market value” property tax state then we must be certain we actually have hard data on which to establish “market value”.  I also am working towards implementing the concept that “market value” be established at the time of the sale, increase for inflation from 3% to 5% over time, but not have a new market value set until the property sells.  I also will work to move away from the use of trends and to allow appeal of valuations at all levels and in expanded time frames. 

I have led an effort to repeal the sales tax on food.  I pledge to continue this effort and at a minimum will work to radically increase the grocery tax credit to $ 100.00 per Idaho resident, even for those who do not file income tax returns.  I have done a great deal of work on this already and have assisted in building the coalitions needed to make progress on this issue next session.

As the wife of a teacher and mother of 2 teenagers in the Sandpoint public schools, I have a personal stake in a sound public education system.  I have consistently supported and obtained increased funding for our schools from the state and will continue to do so.  I have also supported accountability measures to ensure we are on the right track in providing our students a sound educational foundation.  I have also succeeded in obtaining additional funding tools for maintenance and construction of school buildings.  I have also supported and provided expanded higher educational opportunities in our area and region.  If re-elected I will continue my work in all these areas.

Roads and bridges are key components of the infrastructure of our communities.  My work, along with the work of other area legislators, has provided the political clout needed to gain our fair share of transportation projects.  We have completed projects like the widening between Laclede and Priest River, improvements on Hwy 95 north of Bonners Ferry and have scheduled critical projects like the Garwood to Sagle project.  As a senior member of the Idaho State Senate Transportation Committee I am best positioned to keep our projects on track.

Jobs are critical for our community members.  I have focused on boosting and supporting economic development efforts to retain and grow the businesses we have and to attract new ones to the area.  I have helped to provide funding for rural infrastructure needs like sewer and water lines and provided funding for economic development specialists that assist communities in their job growing efforts.  I will continue to do this type of work if re-elected.

What differentiates you from other candidates? Why should people vote for you?

I believe that my experience as an effective leader and my seniority in the Idaho State Senate gives me the edge and makes me the better candidate for this office.  I rank 9th in seniority out of 35 members in the Senate.  Should I be re-elected I will move up to 7th.  This places me in an excellent position to accomplish solutions to issues as the Idaho State Senate operates on a seniority system. I would be honored if people would give me their vote and believe that their vote for me gets them the best qualified, most experienced and most effective person for the job.

I appreciate all the support the voters have shown me and the honor of serving as the state senator for district one.  Thank you!