North End: Life Off the Ballot


Idaho public figure Nicole LeFavour is taking 2013 to slow down, reflect and recharge

By Jamie Dillon
Photography by Copper Chadwick

It’s official: Nicole LeFavour is completely, totally unofficial.

This articulate, bright-eyed, placid-but-firm civil-rights champion who’s used to having a “(D)” tacked to the end of her name flies off the radar these days. No boards. No ballots. In her own words and with a hint of surprise even to herself, “No nothin’.”

These days, you can find LeFavour in a coffee shop instead of at a legislator’s desk. She’s traded miking up in front of the media for hiking up a hill and teaching kids the power and beauty of their own words with a summer writing gig. She spends her time taking snapshots of pretty things, be it a daisy or a panoramic view from the Boise Foothills. Her pen still hits paper frequently, but now to write her memoir and poetry rather than legislation.
And it’s good.

“I was at the Flying M the other day, and it occurred to me that it’s the first stretch of time I’ve been in establishments and have not just naturally been looking for a spot on the wall to hang a poster,” said LeFavour. “It’s such an odd thing to not be working as a community organizer. And at the moment, it’s really an okay place to be.”

Instead, this 49-year-old North Ender lives simply and quietly, spending her time reflecting on her life up until now.
“I’ve lived an amazingly varied life. I spent seven years with the Forest Service. I’m a teacher. I’ve worked on campaigns other than my own. I ran for Congress, which was such a beautiful experience. I’ve been a political organizer for decades,” LeFavour said. “There are things about my character that are plusses and liabilities, and I think it’s beneficial for any person to understand the complexity of that in themselves.”

But don’t confuse this intense introspection for idleness.

Toward the end of her legislative career, a literary agent known for publishing stories of bravery approached LeFavour to write a memoir.

“I didn’t know why he’d be interested in me, considering that he’s known, among other things, for working with people who’ve rebuilt their lives after catastrophe,” LeFavour said of Rob Weisbach, who has represented a recent client who was a plane crash survivor and another who survived ground zero on 9/11. He’s handled books authored by celebrities such as John Stewart, Tim Burton and Ellen DeGeneres. “But he’s helped me look at my story in a different light. What drives people to do things that are uncomfortable and confrontational and stay strong in the face of a great deal of unwelcome?”

While there’s no firm date on when the book will hit shelves, she understands the potential impact of the stories and subject matter contained within it will need to be heard sooner than later.

“My timeline is indefinite, but I realize my story has a shelf-life. Things are moving so quickly in terms of the politics of equality for the gay and transgendered community. I have a lot to say about gender and sexuality, and I’m excited about that part of the book,” LeFavour said. “My favorite thing is to sit down and put the pieces together that tell the story best.”