Caroline Nilsson Troy said she has more to offer her constituents as she seeks a fourth term as an Idaho 5th District state representative while challenger Renee Love said she is fed up with recent legislation in the statehouse and wants to take action.

A third candidate for the position, James Hartley, C-Moscow, could not be reached for comment after multiple attempts to reach him.

“I have a long list of legislation that I still want to do,” said Nilsson Troy, R-Genesee.

Love, D-Moscow, said legislators discussed five main “hate” bills last session that attacked things like LGBTQ rights and affirmative action protections.

“These hate bills are for no other purpose other than discriminating against other populations that our Legislature don’t understand,” Love said.

Love said the Republican supermajority in the Legislature makes it difficult to discuss issues that represent moderate and liberal voters.

If elected, Love said she wants to address education funding, the overcrowded prison system minimum wage and climate change.

Idaho ranked last nationwide in per K-12 student spending in 2018-19, which Love said is not OK.

“When you have a poorer community, those youth are missing out because they cannot pay extra for levies and bonds and they won’t approve them, and so we need to make sure that all our youth across the state have equal opportunities,” Love said.

Nilsson Troy said it is unfair to rate Idaho’s education system on per pupil spending.

“I think what we should be looking at is what the outcomes are,” said Nilsson Troy, noting money does not fix everything.

According to Education Week’s 2019 Quality Counts annual report, she said Idaho ranks 24th overall in education, an improvement from 45th in 2018.

Love said Idaho’s prisons are so overcrowded that some inmates are sent to Texas, separating parents from their children. Love said prisons are overcrowded because the majority of inmates are in for nonviolent parole or probation violations.

“That tells me that something is really wrong with the system and we need to make sure that we’re looking at people that are being released from prison and how to help them succeed in society after they’re released,” she said.

As for minimum wage, Love said it should be raised as many Idaho residents make $7.25 federal minimum wage, which equates to about $15,000 per year.

“That’s extreme poverty and nobody can live on that,” she said.

Nilsson Troy said she would like to get her hemp legislation across the finish line. The bill would legalize the production and sale of hemp.

“It’s really been an education process,” Nilsson Troy said. “There’s still a lot of concern within the Legislature that hemp equals marijuana. … It’s really unfair that our farmers can’t grow it when their neighbors across the street can grow it.”

She said she is also concerned about old school facilities, like Moscow High School, and how they are funded. Nilsson Troy said she is trying to find a way to use state matching funds for facilities improvements.

“Like I told the governor’s office, we’ve got to quit kicking this can down the road or we’re going to be in the same place where we were with roads and bridges,” she said.

Nilsson Troy and Love said their career experience makes them the best candidate for office.

Love said the best legislators are made up of residents who have had similar experiences as their constituents. She said she grew up in poverty and did not see a doctor or dentist until she was 18 when she finally went to college.

“I know what it’s like to be in extreme poverty and to see parents that are working hard to make ends meet,” Love said.

Nilsson Troy said she is a hard worker, sponsoring 85 bills in her six-year tenure in the House.

“That proves that I can collaborate,” she said. “It takes a lot of work to get a bill across the floor as hemp has proven. I don’t win them all but I win 95 percent of them.”

Nilsson Troy said she also brings international experience, having lived in Africa for five years and traveling back several times since.

“Not only do I have a really good Palouse perspective and Idaho perspective, I also have a global perspective,” she said.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to


Running for: Idaho Fifth District State Representative, Position B

Party affiliation: Democrat

Age: 37

Education: Bachelor’s degree in geology from Washington State University and doctorate in geology with an emphasis in plant fossils and climate change from University of Idaho

Work experience: UI geology instructor; owns probiotic tea business Love’s Kombucha with her husband; previously worked as exploration geologist for ExxonMobil in Houston and as petroleum geologist and geologic mapper for Idaho Geological Survey

Prior political experience: None

How long lived in area: 33 years

Family: Married


Running for: Idaho Fifth District State Representative, Position B

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 58

Education: Bachelor’s degree in communications from University of Idaho

Work experience: Runs nonprofit consulting company Nilsson Advisory Group; previously worked as fundraiser for Washington State University and UI

Prior political experience: Seeking fourth term in Idaho House

How long lived in area: 53 years

Family: Married, four children

Recommended for you