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Norman Semanko, Executive director & general counsel, Idaho Water Users Association Inc. in Boise

norm-semankoNorm Semanko’s passion for the law began at a junior high softball game more than three decades ago.

A kid slid into home base, and the call was up in the air. Semanko knew the rules of the game and he knew what he’d seen, so he stepped up to explain to the other players and officials what the call should be and why.

“I looked around and saw everybody listening,” he says. “And I thought: ‘They’re all listening. Maybe I can do this.’”

Right then and there, an attorney was born.

“It’s the idea of reasoning with people, getting them to understand your point of view and persuade them to a certain position,” he says. “I was arguing for what I thought was right.”

And that’s what Semanko has continued to do in various capacities since he graduated from Georgetown and joined the Idaho State Bar in 1993.

He started off working for first Congressman, then Senator Larry Craig. That’s where his exposure to, and interest in, natural resource issues began. Later he moved to Twin Falls, where he took cases relating to water rights and taught a course on Water Management at the College of Southern Idaho.

In Boise, he has continued his private practice, with cases still centering on water law.

In 2000, he was hired as the executive director of the Idaho Water Users Association. He has continued in that role, analyzing policy, leading seminars and advocating for water users in the Idaho State Legislature, before Congress, and in federal, state and local agencies.

He’s come to be recognized as a leading expert on water policy in Idaho and beyond, and he’s done so with grace. He aims to shape good policy through collaboration with all parties, whether interests align or not.

“Mr. Semanko is always a professional and works with the utmost of integrity,” says Russ Hendricks of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation. “It is clear that building and maintaining relationships is quite important to him, regardless of whether another person or organization supports or opposes the position he is advocating. His long term influence and success has proven this to be a sound business practice.”

Semanko loves being involved in the political arena. He has served as chairman of the Idaho Republican Party and as Eagle City Councilman. He runs a political consulting operation called Red States Solutions.

In his various roles, he’s at heart a skilled communicator, just as he came to understand that day on the softball field.

To view photos from the 2016 Leaders in Law networking reception and awards event Nov. 17, 2016, visit //www.idahobusinessreview.smugmug.com/.

About Dani Grigg