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Hanks drops out of Senate race, supports write-in over Souza

by CRAIG NORTHRUP
Staff Writer | April 1, 2020 1:00 AM

Shem Hanks, the former chair of the Kootenai County Democratic Central Committee, has dropped out of the race for District 4’s Senate position.

“It is becoming increasingly likely that I will have to move out of the district, as housing prices are just too costly in Legislative District 4,” Hanks said Tuesday.

Hanks said he was prepared to put off the move because he believed a Democrat should be on the ballot for the seat. But a new write-in campaign for teacher Shari Williams gave Hanks an opportunity to reconsider.

“Shari had wanted to run and be a voice for education and working families in Coeur d’Alene,” Hanks said, “but she wasn’t able to file during Idaho’s incredibly short filing period because she was out of town. Shari and I talked over the last week, and she really wants to run a strong and active campaign.”

Williams is a substitute teacher in Coeur d’Alene School District #271. She was a dental hygienist and a clinical professor at Eastern Washington University, according to the biography Hanks provided. A Coeur d’Alene resident for the last 42 years, Williams is married to retired coach and North Idaho College athletic director Rolly Williams.

“Shem asked me to consider it, so I decided to do it,” she said. “My biggest goal is to unite Idaho and give everybody a voice in the Senate. I don’t think there isn’t anything we can’t accomplish with a little intention and honest.”

Hanks said he’s staying on the campaign trail as Williams’ treasurer, giving him the option to buy a home outside of the district while still remaining tethered to the race.

The Idaho Secretary of State’s office was informed Friday that Hanks was no longer running for the position. The Coeur d’Alene resident was slotted to run against Republican incumbent Sen. Mary Souza. As the lone Democrat, Hanks was expected to win the state primary election May 19, which will be a mail-only election.

Friday was the deadline day for a candidate to withdraw. Kootenai County Elections manager Shelly Amos confirmed Hanks’ name will not appear on the May 19 Democratic ballot.