Idaho Politics: Some were giants

Judy Ferro     [Published by the Idaho Press-Tribune on July 14]

Last week Marc Johnson posted a memorable tribute to former Governor John V. Evans, who died July 8 at the age of 89.  Johnson was a producer and television host at Idaho Public Television during Evan’s 1976 to 1986 tenure.

“Evans took the small town qualities that make a mayor successful – attention to detail, remembering people’s names and needs, and a focus on practical and common sense solutions – and created ten productive years in the Idaho Statehouse. He should be remembered as one of Idaho’s best governors and, moreover, as a very nice and very decent fellow.”

Among the Evans’ accomplishments Johnson includes beginning adjudication of the Snake River water rights, battling the aftermath of the Mount Helena eruption, and ending INEL’s injection of process water into the Snake River aquifer.

Johnson’s description of Evans’ handling of the economic downturn of the late 1970s and early 1980s made me yearn for leaders like Evans today.

“Three times he worked magic…to prevent the kind of broad scale damage to education that we have seen in more recent difficult economic times.”

Earlier, in a column on Idaho Democrats who came to power due to Republican failures, Randy Stapilus mentioned other Idaho greats like Frank Church, Cecil Andrus, and Marilyn Howard

Just reading the names, I get a chill—followed by the urge to roar, “We Democrats have given you giants.  Now give us respect.”

During Frank Church’s 24 years in the U.S. Senate, he became a noted liberal on the national stage.  He fought for U.S. withdrawal from the Viet Nam War, supported the Civil Rights Act, and warned of government spying abroad and at home.

“If this government ever became a tyrant…the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together…no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know.”

Although Cecil Andrus is now 83, many believe he could still win a statewide election.  His intelligence and humor disarm opponents.  I imagine him dealing with a legislative uber-conservative by saying, “OK, that’s what you feel you have to say, but what is it you hope to get right now?”  His genius was working out a compromise that both sides regarded as the best they were going to get.

Andrus is an outdoorsman and conservationist dedicated to seeing that our forests and lakes will be here for our children and grandchildren.  He served as Idaho’s governor from 1971 to 1977, as U.S. Secretary of the Interior from 1977-1981, and as governor again 1987 to 1995.

A truly great man, Andrus puts others at ease.  I talk with him and come away feeling somehow brighter and more capable.

The first time I heard Marilyn Howard speak she convinced me she understood where education had to go and the details that made change both necessary and difficult.  During her tenure, she respected and supported teachers even as she pushed for new tactics and resolve.  Her mantra was, “If it was easy, we’d have done it already.”

Many potential greats never got the chance to serve Idaho because voters didn’t respect the “D” after their names.  These were strong men and women committed to solving problems and making Idaho a great place for all her citizens.  They were dedicated to making Idaho’s economy, communities, and families stronger.

Please take the time to know the Democrats on your ballot this November—Mitchell, Ringo, Balukoff, Marley, Silver, Woodings, Bistline and Jones.  You will find potential greats

Published by Judy Ferro

Judy Ferro is communication director for the 2C Dems and a columnist for the Idaho Press.

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