Election of Heroes

Image courtesy J. Howard Miller

The top of the ticket seems to drive our political conversations, indeed, our political manners, when it really shouldn’t. Politics really is, despite what Facebook or Fox News tries to sell us, local. And the local folks we elect are heroes.

Those elections are coming up soon enough. Maybe you have already voted. Good for you. Those who represents us in our city, our county, our school, or highway district deserves our attention come election time. We are asking them to do the difficult work of representing us, let us honor their task with an informed vote. And then, we should be paying attention to the work they are doing. They deserve our attention.

I am very happy with the number of folks who have turned up asking for my vote locally. That’s a good sign this representative government experiment might work. I looked through some of the other city and school board races in this North Idaho neck of the woods, and we shouldn’t be griping about a lack of choices.

I am just happy folks are willing to do this work, given the animosity addressed their way these days. I thought County Coroner was a pretty thankless position, but school board members are getting threatened, screamed at, called names. But that’s what the top of the ticket “leaders” we elect emulate, so it’s acceptable behavior for some, I guess. I can’t imagine those parents would tolerate such behavior around the dinner table.

Don’t think this running for office thing is easy. There’s a lot of forms to fill out about the money you raise, who gives it to you and how you spend it. The legislature decided this was important public information back in 2015, so anybody running for school board in a district with more than 500 students must file such reports. Let me know if you find any dirty politics.

But even if the legislature has made it a little harder for folks to run for school board, after you get elected, our leaders in Boise haven’t made serving any easier either. The funds sent out from their overfull coffers are meager, so school boards across the state have to decide whether to run supplemental levies.

Most district do go, hat in hand, and ask their neighbors to pony up so the teachers can be paid, and the heat stays on. The legislature is proud they have pushed this job downstream. They like to keep politics local.

And our governor and legislature don’t want to make any Covid decisions easier for the locals either. No direction about masks or shots from Boise, you guys decide. Those wily legislators and Boise Bureaucrats know who can take getting yelled at. I guess local yelling is better in their mind.

City councilors might have it easier that school board members. They get all the glory of raising sewer rates or passing a bond when the treatment plant fails. But God forbid they try to institute any restrictive measures about this pandemic. Those mad-as-a-hornet Freedom anti-maskers know where they live.

For representative government to work well, it’s best if the representative is approachable, knowable. If you live in a town of 1000 and you have 4 city council members, that’s a 250:1 ratio. Odds are, you would know one of those councilpersons. Same with school boards, it’s a similar ratio. You could, at any time you chose, make a phone call, and get an answer to your question. Or you could instead go to their home about dinner time with a tiki torch and burn them in effigy. Each of us has different methods of dealing with our elected representatives.

These representatives we elect are heroes, folks. Sure, they don’t always make decisions we agree with, but neither do our spouses. But please, don’t burn any effigies of the old man on your front porch.

About ddxdx

A Family physician, former county coroner and former Idaho State Senator
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