Jim Woodward

Woodward, a lifelong resident of North Idaho, was born, raised, and educated in Idaho. After graduating from Bonners Ferry High School and studying mechanical engineering at the University of Idaho, Woodward embarked on a 21-year career in the U.S. Navy, including service on the USS Alabama submarine and as a Commanding Officer. Woodward is involved in numerous local organizations, including Northern Lights Electric Co-op, Sagle Fire District, and the Bonner General Hospital Foundation. Woodward, a lifelong conservative Republican, has served two terms previously in the Idaho State Senate from 2018-2022.

News Stories

News • Kevin Richert, Idaho Ed News • 05/02/2024

A business owner with a degree in engineering, Woodward had a hand in education budgets and several pieces of education policy during his four years in the Senate. That list includes teacher pay raises and a budget line item that allows districts to move school employees under the state’s insurance plan, a shift designed to provide improved health benefits at a lower out-of-pocket cost.

But on his website, Herndon repeatedly refers to Woodward as a liberal. And Herndon cites a string of education issues: Woodward’s 2020 vote against a law banning transgender students from playing in girls’ sports; Woodward’s support of a $6 million-a-year federal early education grant, rejected by the House in 2021; and Woodward’s support of higher education budgets that allow spending on diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

Woodward defends his votes. The transgender athletics bill was legally flawed, and remains mired in federal court. The grant, from the Trump administration, would have allowed teachers, parents, nonprofits and schools to come up with local learning plans to help young readers. And the backlash against DEI runs counter to preserving intellectual freedom at colleges and universities.

“I don’t feel the need to oversee everyone’s thoughts on a campus,” he said. “That’s, I believe, another distinction between myself and Scott Herndon.”

If he returns to the Senate, Woodward says he would like to return to JFAC and Senate Education.

Woodward has some reservations about the changes in JFAC. He says the followup budgets are nothing more than a “scheme” that allow conservatives to kill some spending bills while still saying they supported maintenance budgets for schools or public safety.

If Woodward returns to Senate Education, he’s likely to be a consistent vote against school choice measures. He’d also be likely to take up an issue that was brewing when he was in the Senate before: revamping the school funding formula. He’d like to see a rewrite that would provide more funding for special-needs students.

News • Clark Corbin, Idaho Capital Sun • 03/15/2024

In the Idaho Senate race in Legislative District 1, which includes Bonner and Boundary counties, former Idaho Sen. Jim Woodward, R-Sagle, is running against incumbent first term Sen. Scott Herndon, also R-Sagle. That sets up at least the third primary showdown between Woodward and Herndon. In 2018, Woodward defeated Herndon in the GOP primary election. But in 2022, Herndon defeated Woodward. Two other independent candidates, Daniel Rose of Sandpoint and Steve Johnson of Sagle, have also filed to run for the Idaho Senate in Legislative District 1 and will look to take on the winner of Herndon and Woodward’s primary election during the Nov. 5 general election.

News • Kevin Richert, Idaho Ed News • 04/16/2024

Through March 31, incumbent Sen. Scott Herndon and challenger Jim Woodward have spent $132,162 ahead of the May 21 GOP primary.

Anyone who has been following Idaho elections has been watching this Panhandle rematch between two Sagle Republicans. Herndon unseated Woodward in an expensive 2022 primary, in a major pickup for the GOP’s hardline conservative faction. Herndon now sits on the Senate Education Committee and the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee.

So far, Woodward has spent $90,707 to Herndon’s $41,455.

Editorial • Ron Smith, Bonner County Daily Bee • 04/24/2024

Jim is a native Idahoan who was raised here in Boundary County. Jim attended the University of Idaho, and served 21 years of active and reserve duty in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a commander. Jim served in the Idaho Senate for two terms, where he did an exemplary job representing Boundary and Bonner counties. He currently serves as a Northern Lights director and a commissioner of his local fire district. His public service and life experiences make him the best candidate to serve us in the Idaho Senate.

News • Evie Seaberg, Bonner County Daily Bee • 01/19/2024

Jim Woodward, who held the seat Herndon now holds and is running for the seat again in 2024, said most don’t want age-inappropriate material in the libraries. However, he said this legislation could be massaged out a bit more to find the best solution for communities and their libraries. He also said that library boards are elected for a reason — to offer local voices a say in what happens in their communities.

“We’ve created those positions, as an elected official, to have responsibility for a library,” he said. “The closer to home a decision is made, the better the decision. That’s local control versus the idea of a state-wide answer. One size fits all never fits well. We don’t have to have somebody at the state level telling us how to do things at the local level.”

With certain definitions being somewhat vague, including what it means to “relocate” a book, Woodward said this bill could just cost extra taxpayer money with little success.

“The result might just be a lot of time in court trying to decide what this bill really means, so it’s costly for the taxpayer to do this wrong,” he said.

With similar legislation being presented right now, Woodward said there are other opportunities to address concerns from the public that won’t include a private right to action like HB 384 does.

“When you put something into law, it’s mandatory, so you ought to get it right the first time,” he said. “If the porridge is too hot or the porridge is too cold, you better make sure you wait until the porridge is just right, then we’ll vote yes and do it once and not multiple times with court cases in between.”

Initial attempts to pass this type of legislation first began in 2023 with HB 314.

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