SANDPOINT — State Rep. Eric Anderson is retiring from public office, but plans to remain on the front lines of repelling the scourge of invasive mussels.
“That’s just one of those things I’ve been working on for a long, long time and I need to concentrate more time on it. I’m very concerned what happens to the entire Columbia Basin if we get these mussels in our water systems,” Anderson said on Tuesday.
Anderson said he wants to use relationships he’s built with elected officials in Utah, Washington state and Montana to bring the fight against quagga and zebra mussels to a regional level.
Anderson has been a tireless advocate for ridding Idaho waterways of aquatic invasive species and keeping new ones from taking hold.
Anderson said he does not have a job lined up, but expects to find a role somewhere in the private sector. He said water is such a big part of people’s lives and believes the threat that mussels pose can be easily underestimated.
“We need to be protective of that resource and mindful of how quickly we could lose those things,” he said.
The Priest Lake Republican has been serving in the House of Representatives in District 1A since 2004. Anderson said he will miss the relationships and friendships he forged in Boise.
“But it’s time to move on and let someone else move in and serve the people. It’s healthy to see rotation,” he said.
Anderson said it was a “tremendous honor” to serve District 1 constituents and work alongside fellow lawmakers Sen. Shawn Keough and Rep. George Eskridge.
“They’ve become family to me,” he said.
Anderson politely declined to say what he won’t miss when he leaves the Legislature.
Republican Heather Scott, a fisheries and aquatic biologist, announced her intention to seek the GOP nomination for the District 1A seat. Another candidate is reportedly planning to run, but has not announced their candidacy.
Anderson’s advice for his successor, which he attributes to his father, is to establish friendships.
“Not everybody’s going to be with you on every vote and everything you carry. They may be against you on one thing, but you’re going to need ‘em the next time,” Anderson said.