The 19th Century Governor’s Mansion concept isn’t working in the 21st Century and that is why Idaho’s 25 year old Governor’s Mansion program has been a failure. After 25 years, many costly plans, and a costly empty mansion for 6 years, the program has failed. The failure is not a result of personalities, political party wrangling, or the present circumstances.
The fact is that modern transportation systems allow a Governor to have more housing choices. Different family sizes make it difficult to have one Mansion that fits every Governor. And very importantly a spouse has joint management and control over the household. The State of Idaho should not dictate to a spouse and family where and under what roof they should live.
This is why we have struggled with the Governor’s Mansion program for 25 years. This is fundamentally why the modern Simplot Mansion has been empty. Quite simply, the idea of a Governor’s Mansion is obsolete.
Other states are facing the same dilemma. Those with unoccupied mansions include Colorado (Governor Hicken looper ); Michigan (Governor Snyder); Indiana (Governor Daniels) ; New Jersey (Governor Christie); New Hampshire (Governor Lynch); New York (Governor Cuomo); Ohio (Governor Kasich). Additionally, Arizona, California, Massachusetts , Rhode Island and Vermont don’t have Governor’s Mansions.
Governor’s Mansions in Nevada and South Carolina have had serious problems recently because of marital issues.
It is simply unfair to require a Governor to live at a particular location, with furniture and the design picked out by someone else. Virtually no other executive or employee has this requirement as part of the job. Legislators receive an allowance.
Some mansions nationwide are preserved partly as essentially century old museums. That isn’t the case in Idaho.
However, housing assistance has been a part of the Governors compensation package as long as anyone can remember. Therefore a modest allowance or assistance in the purchase of a home should continue as the present or future Governor desires. It should be the Governor and the family’s choice, just as my home is my choice.