A career devoted to advocating for openness and transparency in government has earned Ben Ysursa the City Club of Boise's fourth Dottie and Ed Stimpson award for civic engagement.
The City Club award honors people whose work exemplifies the City Club founder and her husband's belief that no problem is so great it can't be solved by people with open minds using civil discourse. Previous winners are the Stimpsons; members of the Owhyee Initiative; and the members of the second reapportionment commission in 2012, who rose above partisanship to draft Idaho's legislative boundaries.
Ysursa, 65, is retiring this year after 12 years as Idaho's Republication Secretary of State. His nomination cited three cases when Ysursa stood up- including to his own party- to do what he thought was right; His fight to keep primary elections open to all voters, regardless of affiliation; protecting the independence for the 2012 redistricting commission; and forcing a campaign group to disclose where it got its money during the 2012 election that ultimately repealed Idaho's Students Come First laws. In his talk, Ysursa will reflect on a career dedicated to transparency and civil discourse and respond to questions from the audience.
Ysursa, Idaho's 26th Secretary of State, was born and raised in Boise and graduated from Gonzaga University in 1971. He earned his law degree at St. Louis University Law School in 1974 and was admitted to the Idaho State Bar the same year. But he did not go into private practice. He went to work for legendary Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa in 1974, serving him for 28 years as deputy and then chief deputy Secretary of State. When Cenarrusa retired in 2002, Ysursa ran for and won the office. Ysursa and his wife, Penny, have three children and two grandchildren. When he leaves office in January, Ysursa says he's going to focus on the two G's- grandkids and golf.