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OPINION: Precinct by precinct, take back your party

by JACK T. RIGGS/Guest Opinion
| March 15, 2024 1:00 AM

Did you know that this year, for the first time in years, you will have a choice for whom you want to represent you on the Republican county central committee (KCRCC)?This will be the most important election on the May primary ballot.

Please let me explain.  

Every two years in the May primary, the Republicans of every precinct in the county have the opportunity to elect a Republican "precinct committeeman" (PC) specific for their individual precinct. Kootenai County has 73 precincts, so that could be up to 73 Republican PCs elected.

There are four officially recognized parties in Idaho: Republican, Democrat, Libertarian and Constitution. The elected PCs of each of these official parties make up the county central committee for that respective party. For Republicans, that group is the KCRCC (Kootenai County Republican Central Committee).  

Each PC plays a role in shaping election strategies, endorsing candidates and advocating for issues that should resonate with community values. They are the decision-makers on the KCRCC, making choices that directly impact our schools, libraries, and the quality of governance in our cities, county, state and the Idaho Republican Party.

And these decisions have consequences. Take for example the activities of the currently elected KCRCC over the past few years, including damage to NIC, libraries, schools and the assessor’s office. KCRCC continues to recruit, rate and vet candidates unsuited for their roles, misleading the public at every opportunity.

For the past 10 years, however, very few Republican precinct committee races have been contested, with only 12 out of 73 contested two years ago. This means that the current KCRCC members keep being re-elected in their precincts. Quite often, you won’t even know the name of the person running for PC in your precinct and the current KCRCC likes it that way.

They want the silent majority to stay silent. They want to make all the decisions for you. They want to be in charge and they want to be in control. They don’t even really want you to vote, except for themselves and their hand-picked candidates. Remember the recent presidential caucus with 92% of Republicans NOT participating? That was intentional.

The current KCRCC does not want your input. Fortunately, this year the silent majority of Republicans will have a choice of who sits on the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee (KCRCC) for the next two years. This year in May there will be good choices on the ballot in nearly EVERY precinct.

Imagine a well-functioning central committee that is looking out for the best interests of families and businesses in our area. Imagine having good debate and good choices for Republicans to serve at all levels rather than having few or no choices and being told exactly who to vote for, no questions asked. Imagine a local “official” Republican Party that tries to bring people together to solve problems rather than split people apart.

Imagine a KCRCC that truly represents the spirit of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan — a committee that upholds the sanctity of the family, the rule of law, personal responsibility and the prosperity brought by free enterprise — a committee that doesn’t dictate, but listens and leads, with the community’s best interests at heart.

This vision can become a reality, but only if we seize the moment to make our voices heard. The power to enact this change is in your hands. The PC race is your opportunity to profoundly influence the future direction of our local politics. By electing PCs who stand for traditional values and community engagement, we can return to our roots that genuinely reflect and respect the will of the people.

We invite you to join with North Idaho Republicans and embrace this vision, and to ensure that the Republican Party of the future stands for the traditional conservative Republican values of supporting freedom, patriotism, democracy, families, economic prosperity, personal responsibility, honesty, hard work and quality education.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution to the current KCRCC pathway of turmoil. You just need to vote in May. Start at the bottom of the ballot first because that is where the vitally important Precinct Committeeman race will be located.  

Request an absentee ballot through Idaho Secretary of State Phil McGrane’s website www.IdahoVotes.Gov. This takes just two minutes online, but the impact of that small action can make a big difference. 

And remember, in the grand scheme of local politics, the race for Precinct Committeeman isn't just another election; it's a pivotal moment that will define the future of our community. This year, Precinct Committeeman will be the most important race on the ballot!

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Jack T. Riggs, MD, is former Idaho Lt. Gov. (R) and founding member, North Idaho Republicans.