Legislative candidate consults with locals

By Clarice McKenney

Legislative candidate Kathryn Larson, running for Idaho House of Representatives Seat 1B, discussed issues with residents from the towns and rural areas of Boundary County during a garden party in Bonners Ferry Monday afternoon.

Larson shared her approach with the group, saying, “I put issues through three tests in order to prioritize them. First, how will this affect our quality of life here in District 1? Second, how will this impact our freedom and right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Third, will it clear obstacles or invigorate our local economy?

“So much of what our legislators have focused on in this last legislative session would not have been given priority or would have been voted down,” she said, “if theses three tests had been applied.”

The group shared their most important concerns, most of which related to the candidate’s own platform. Among them was the need for fairness in taxing methods to fund necessary services, including schools. Many stressed that taxes should not be supporting private or charter schools. Considerable discussion involved the new “classical education academy” opening in the county this fall that is connected with the religious-based Hillsdale College outreach program. Several highlighted the complete absence of quality standards for these schools and the evidence that profit is a poor priority in education.

All who shared their views stressed that the Christian nationalist movement to inculcate public schools with their brand of Christianity should not be subsidized with public funding. It is just the latest attack by a movement that has continually built a power base beginning in the earliest part of the last century.

There was a discussion about how many labels and symbols of national unity have been “highjacked” by the far right to the point where many no longer see the American flag as a symbol of freedom.

“We need to take back our flag and our country it used to stand for,” said one. “Yes, and the term ‘woke’ is not a bad word. It just means to be aware, come out of a trance,” he said. Another man agreed and said this takeover of our government on so many levels came about because most of us were ‘unaware.’

Larson would apply her three-questions test—does it have a local focus?, does it promote greater freedom? and does it benefit the local economy?— as a lens to examine any legislation that is proposed, should she be elected in November.

One attendee shared a story about how a parent at a school whose library she ran tried to ban the book Where’s Waldo? Because there were line drawings of scantily clad Egyptian women in the book. “Our libraries are a vibrant part of our community. They are gathering places for teens (who are not prohibited from checking out a book that their individual parent might object to),” the woman said. The Bonners Ferry woman’s explained that one of last session’s laws is going into effect and will adversely affect all of our libraries, costing them, individual librarians and local communities a lot of time and money in potential lawsuits.

Larson agreed and said, “This legislation will have a negative impact on our local quality of life. It will limit the freedom of all parents to allow their children to read books that another parent might object to. And it impacts our local economy as we garner national news that might chase away potential employees or tourists.”

“We see too much focus on issues that distract and diminish rather than on those that enhance our local quality of life,” she told the group. Several commented on the number of ridiculous or damaging bills in the last legislation session, like the one on cannibalism our former representative Heather Scott introduced. “The worst part is that Scott got that notion from social media. When people tell me they’re doing their own research on things, I tell them going to social media is not research,” a woman stated.

Larson said that she agreed. “Let’s not waste precious time and resources arguing and legislating things that do not make a real difference for the people of North Idaho.”

Larson won the Democratic Primary for Legislative District 1 and now faces the Republican Primary winner in the general election. She explained that voters have a choice to make in her race in November between Larson, who wants to solve problems for individuals like those attending the gathering and their communities and a man who follows the dictates of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, an organization funded by out-of-state money from billionaires like the Koch Brothers.

Learn more about Kathryn Larson’s qualifications on her campaign site: kathrynlarsonforidaho.com.