A fixture in Idaho politics reflects on his career

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) John Sandy, a fixture in Idaho and Washington politics for decades, is retiring after years of public service. He’s planning to travel and spend more time with his wife and family.

John Sandy looks out one of the windows of the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. (Source: Gray DC)

“There’s some sadness, but there comes a time when you have to pass the reins,” said John Sandy.

John Sandy has worn many hats through the years—most recently, chief of staff to Idaho’s Senator Jim Risch. An Idaho native, Sandy grew up in Hagerman and Stanley, joining his family in the livestock business at a young age. But Sandy had a different calling. Politics is in his blood.

“My grandmother Sandy was the registrar up in Shoshone,” he said. “She would get in her Falcon and go register them to vote,” he explained.

Sandy took his family’s passion for public service a couple steps further.

“Became involved in the Republican party and one thing seemed to lead to another and wound up in the state senate,” the former chief of staff said.

Sandy served in the Idaho legislature from 1996 to 2002.

He became Chief of Staff for then Idaho Gov. Jim Risch and later followed Risch to the Senate on Capitol Hill.

“I think we’ve actually done pretty well,” said Sandy. He said their office has the one of the lowest response times for their constituents.

“In Idaho, we have a great crew of people,” he said, about the staffers back in his home state.

Sandy met Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) decades ago at the University of Idaho. He’s grateful for their years of friendship—both professionally and personally.

“One of my most trusted friends and confidants…we’ve hunted together many times, fished together many times and of course struggled with the struggles we have here,” said Risch.

Sandy leaves a successful full-time political gig, knowing he’s made a difference, like successfully negotiating a water rights agreement in Idaho, getting Ritter Island under Idaho state control and helping purchase Billingsley Creek State Park.

“That was my idea and took me two years to shepherd that through the legislature,” he said, referring to Billingsley Creek State Park.

He also amended the Idaho constitution to save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.

“They were my brainchild,” said Sandy.

Sandy wishes his grandfather who emigrated here from Wales and arrived to the U.S. with just a small suitcase could see his success first hand.

“He wasn’t alive to see me walk by and to look up there, but unbelievable, only in America,” said Sandy.

Sandy is not done with politics just yet. He will be an advisor to Sen. Risch and said he’s ready for new challenges.

“Stay tuned,” said Sandy about his future plans.

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