Thursday, June 01, 2023

OPINION: What did we learn, and how will it change Kootenai County?

by EVAN KOCH/More Perfect Union
| May 17, 2023 1:00 AM

The run-up to yesterday’s election was unlike anything we have witnessed in recent Kootenai County political history. We saw and learned a lot over these past months.

We came to know the names, hopes and dreams of many people on both sides of the political aisle. We learned that there are some public institutions that transcend politics, namely our libraries and our public schools.

We learned that although some things may divide us, other things unite us. And we learned that we can work collaboratively, especially for a common cause that we all hold dear.

It would be naive to assume that all people who voted yes for public school levies or in favor of the incumbent library trustees are closet Democrats. Republicans didn’t run out en masse and change their party affiliation. But some people did. And that is both encouraging and telling.

We saw people who opposed the Republican Central Committee’s heavy-handed authority come out of the woodwork. Conversations about local politics that previously took place around the privacy of kitchen tables are now a full-blown fearless public roar. People aren’t afraid anymore to openly oppose the KCRCC’s pedaling of ignorance and lies. As a community, we discovered that more people than we ever thought possible share that opinion.

The years-long split dividing the Republicans is wider and more evident now. Some Republicans still believe the lie that libraries spread pornography to children. But others knocked on doors to get out the vote for candidates their own party would not endorse.

We saw kindness and humanity emerge in the face of despair and fear.

A group of compassionate locals, including many Democrats, stepped up following the failed March 14 levy to buy a coffee gift card for every teacher, bus driver and district office staffer.

We saw students stand up, organize and march for their schools. We saw remarkable scholars stand in front of school boards and eloquently explain the value and the impact of a North Idaho public education.

We saw students support the yes Campaign with letters to the editor of this paper. Other students spent hours in the sun going door to door to pass out campaign literature or wave signs.

We saw the Coeur d’Alene Regional Chamber of Commerce and individual business owners speak out in support of a solid public education.

People discovered their voices. And they enjoyed the feeling of empowerment that comes with raising it in the company of other like-minded people.

We saw humanity at its best.

What is the most important takeaway from yesterday’s election? When we work together we can find our way toward a More Perfect Union in Kootenai County.

Will we pursue that path further, or will we let these lessons fade into obscurity?

The answer is up to you.

• • •

Evan Koch is chairman of the Kootenai County Democrats.

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