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Boundary County Democrats Gearing Up for Office

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John O'Connor John O'Connor

Has Boundary County been Republican so long it hurts?

Boundary County’s been Republican so long it hurts North Idaho, literally. All of the three-member Board of Commissioners in this northernmost county are Republican, as are, of course, all the other major elected officials representing the county in state and federal government. That will be different, soon, as John O’Connor is running unopposed for the second district Democratic nomination, and vows to change things. It could be a harbinger of winds of change ahead for north Idaho.

John has owned Bonners Books in downtown Bonners Ferry for the past 21 years and feels it’s time for the board members to start serving the broader electorate, not just powerful special interests. As a member of the Idaho Conservation League his own expertise and interests will focus on water issues (he’s a past member of the water quality subcommittee of the now-failed Kootenai Valley Resource Initiative), the county landfill (it’s approaching the end of its life and the present all-Republican board has waited until the eleventh hour to broaden recycling measures), and the county’s comprehensive plan (he believes its formulation has been badly bungled by the present board and new and existing businesses need to be encouraged and planned for).

He just may be right. At the last caucuses, Boundary County Democrats recorded their largest voter turnout ever and, according to Linda Langness, Democratic Party Chair, with a president whose approval rating is down to 28 percent (and falling steadily), even long-time Republican stalwarts are fleeing their party in droves over the inability or unwillingness to deal with the real issues concerning middle-America.

She sees these issues as “billionaires paying a smaller percentage of their income in taxes than families making less than $100,000, an army slowly deteriorating miles from home in a needless war opposed by 80 percent of its own citizens, a State Department hiring as Middle East “experts” people who not only don’t speak the language but whose only expertise lies in the fact that they oppose abortion.” The list seems like a catalog of Republican incompetence. Global warming? Denial and inaction. Health care? Tax breaks for big drug companies and arrest for those buying medicine just over the border.

Many feel Idaho - a Democratic stronghold for years - turned Republican in the 1970s because of unions and environmentalists, but those are no longer the evil catchwords they once were, not with average American’s real wages falling annually and with our state and county’s growing concern and respect for nature and the need to preserve it for our children.

Steve Elgar, who narrowly lost to Republican Eric Anderson in the last election for the position of state Representative for District 1, position A (representing both Boundary and Bonner counties) is running again and this may be his year as well. Democrat Tom Hollingsworth will be running against long-time Republican George Eskridge in the District 1 legislative district as well.

Jerry Pavia (208-267-7374) is another Democrat who is casting his hat into the ring in the commissioner’s race, running against Republican Ron Smith for the District 1 seat on the board. A professional photographer in Bonners Ferry for the past 32 years, Jerry agrees with John that the make-up of the present board is conducive only to cronyism and an “old boy” back-room mentality. “It’s time for more civility and professionalism in Boundary County government,” stated O’Connor. “It’s time for a wider spectrum of citizens to be represented and involved.”

I attended a gathering of the Disabled Veterans last month and after the meeting a battle-scarred Marine veteran and long-time Republican took me aside and said he was finally planning on voting Democratic this year. “The sheer incompetence of the people in office now is not only costing lives overseas, working families are being affected all over and no one seems to give a damn. They seem to be living in a fantasyland!”

The winds of change are starting to be felt even here in Boundary County and they may push John O’Connor to victory in November. To speak with John and find out where he stands on the issues he can usually be found behind the counter at Bonners Books at 7195 Main Street in Bonners Ferry, Idaho (really cool books too!).

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Jody Forest Jody Forest When he's not hidden behind the palatial gates of his Dover estate, Casa de Bozo, Jody is out using outdated and corny pickup lines on various gullible women.

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