GRANGEVILLE – Jessica Chilcott sees the need for balance in the state legislature in rising above partisan stagnation and reaching compromises to find solutions.
Chilcott (D) of Sagle is running for District 7A representative in the Nov. 4 general election against Republican incumbent Shannon McMillan of Silverton. District 7 encompasses Idaho, Clearwater, Shoshone and a portion of Bonner counties.
Chilcott made a campaign visit through Grangeville during Border Days last Thursday, July 3.
“People don’t feel like they’re being represented, they don’t feel like they’re being heard, and that’s important,” Chilcott said, based on her discussions with District 7 residents.
“Part of the solution is to create balance and in finding solutions together. If everyone is so locked into partisanship and tied down to stay with the extreme view on one side or the other, there’s no room for compromise.”
“We need to be able to come together for everyone to move the state forward, to meet the needs people have and support businesses and support families,” she said.
One of those needs is for strong, stable education, according to Chilcott, which is currently underfunded in Idaho, a situation that hurts not only students but also the state’s economy.
“We have to find an appropriate, sustainable way to fund our schools,” she said
At the start of the recession, Idaho education funding was cut back, but with the economy since improved that amount was not returned and funding has not kept pace. The result is the visible signs of buildings falling apart, schools that can’t stay open for a five-day week, and that around 94 of Idaho’s 115 school districts have to conduct supplemental levies to operate.
“Failing to make that investment, ultimately it’s going to cost us,” Chilcott said. Education is about investing in the future of all of Idaho’s students, providing them the skills to find the jobs that meet the needs of the state’s employers.
“It’s a smart investment,” she said.
Chilcott also discussed Idaho’s standing as being among the top in the nation for minimum wage jobs, and how this threatens the need for population sustainability as families move elsewhere to support themselves. Idahoans, she said, “shouldn’t have to make the decision between quality of life in their communities and feeding themselves, and have to go to Spokane or Seattle to make a living.”
“Idaho can do better,” she said.
Chilcott has a master’s degree in social work and bachelor degrees in social work and psychology. She is currently working at an agency growing a program that provides developmental therapy services for adults and children with developmental disabilities. Chilcott spent the last six years working as a case manager for adults and children with mental illness and as a service coordinator for children with developmental disabilities.