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COMMENTARY: Work not woke

by BRENT REGAN/Common Sense
| September 23, 2022 1:00 AM

Election season is upon us (again) and the air is full of so many claims, accusations and outright lies. For example, just last week a My Turn author accused the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee of wanting to “get rid of public education.” They offered no justification or proof, which is not surprising as the claim is patently false. The KCRCC has a long history of supporting actual education as several of the committeemen have also served as school board trustees; receiving Boardmanship Awards for excellence in the process.

One should assume these wild claims are false unless they can prove it.

“Prove it” is sound advice when considering claims regarding the future of our community college, NIC. Your vote will determine if NIC breaks free of the decades long power monopoly that has witnessed a steady decline in enrollment as it slides into a culture of woke progressivism or will NIC return to its proper role of preparing our students for a prosperous future by teaching “in demand” job skills?

At the beginning of this century, control of NIC was firmly in the hands of the “downtown crowd” good old boys. This began to change in 2012 with the election of Todd Banducci and Ron Nilson to the Board of Trustees. Banducci is an Air Force veteran and Nilson a local entrepreneur, founder of Ground Force and who was instrumental in launching K-TEC — the Kootenai Technical Education Campus. Both gentlemen understood that NIC should be focused on teaching the practical skills that our children need to prosper and not a progressive “woke” agenda.

NIC administrators found these views abrasive and they soon had a “solution.” In 2016, House Bill 512 was passed which established that the trustees must reside in different zones within the county. The NIC board adopted a map which had each of the trustees in a different zone, but at the next meeting repealed that map and adopted a new map on a 3:2 vote that put Banducci and Nilson in the same zone. Nilson resigned in protest of this violation of the anti-gerrymandering law.

In his 2016 resignation statement Nilson wrote: “North Idaho College is in the middle of a ‘hostile takeover’ and I’m not going to be a part of it. Taxpayers of Kootenai County, it’s time to wake up. You need to know what’s going on inside the walls of NIC. As a trustee, I was able to see the inside of this education system…For the last eight years, I have watched a system that says: If you are not with us, you are against us. If you are against us, we will attack you and discredit your character.”

Nilson’s words were both accurate and prophetic as the ad hominem character assaults against Banducci, and now McKenzie, have been relentless.

So why is the KCRCC involved in NIC?

Remember that the KCRCC is not some self-appointed board representing a special interest. We don’t hide behind a “Friends of” or "Save NIC” feel good motto. KCRCC members are a diverse cross-section of the entire county. They are the Precinct Committeemen (PCs) that are elected by YOU, the Republican voters. There is one PC for each of the 73 precincts. Your PC is your neighbor and represents you on the Central Committee. Issues and concerns that are important to you are important to them and they bring your concerns to our committee.

Your concerns about the struggles at NIC were one of the reasons the KCRCC adopted a candidate rating and vetting process. The KCRCC established a sub-committee to recruit qualified candidates and a separate sub-committee to vet those candidates through a series of interviews, questionnaires and candidate forums. The candidates are then evaluated by the entire KCRCC and voted on by secret ballot. The candidates with more than 50% of the votes become the KCRCC’s Recommended Candidates.

Take a few minutes to get to know all the candidates. Let them earn your vote on Nov. 8.

It’s just common sense.

• • •

Brent Regan is chairman of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee.

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