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Boundary County kicks off Open Primaries Initiative

August 24, 2023

By Jo Len Everhart

Members of the Boundary Team of volunteers working on the Open Primaries
Initiative. Front top back (l-r); Clarice McKenney, team leader; Luke Mayville,
leader of Idahoans for Open Primaries and Reclaim Idaho, Jeannie Robinson,
Copeland, Orrin and Jo Len Everhart, Paradise Valley/Bonners Ferery,
Elsie Hollenbeck, Valley View, Gonzalo Pereilla, Bonners Ferry, Don Jordan,
Naples, Kate Painter and Gray Henderson, North Bonners Ferry, Cindi Pereilla
and Rob McKenney, Bonners Ferry.
Luke Mayville, leader of the Idaho Coalition for Open Primaries, explained the basics of a new citizens’ ballot initiative to a dozen volunteers from Boundary County Friday night. It was the first official kickoff in the state, followed by three more over the weekend in North Idaho. If volunteers around Idaho obtain enough registered voter signatures before May 1, 2024, the initiative will be placed on the ballot in November next year.

Everyone, Mayville said, whether they sign the initiative or not, will be able to then vote yes or no.

Idaho’s closed primary blocks over a quarter of a million independent voters from participating in the most important elections. This initiative would correct that by having one primary in which independents and members of all the parties would vote.

Volunteers at Friday’s meeting expressed enthusiasm that by signing this petition each individual will help get the initiative on the ballot for every registered voter in Idaho. Assuming it makes it to the November ’24 ballot and passes, it will give all voters the freedom to vote in all elections.

One volunteer pointed out that this measure, if voted in, will allow us each to pick leaders who are more accountable to voters and focused on solving real problems for Idaho.

Boundary County lead for the initiative, Clarice McKenney, told the group after Mayville spoke that although Mayville is modest, she valued what she had learned about his education, experience and dedication to Idaho.

“After graduating from Sandpoint High School in 2003, Luke attended North Idaho College, Lane Community College and the University of Oregon and majored in political science,” she explained. “Then he earned a PhD from Yale in political science. Luke didn’t just stay in the east but returned to Sandpoint to help pass the local school levy in 2017. When he cofounded Reclaim Idaho, he moved his beautiful wife and adorable son to Idaho. His mother lives in Sagle where he grew up. We’re all so lucky that he’s here doing this work, and I’m so grateful to him for helping us in this county.”

She and Mayville knocked on doors in her neighborhood when Reclaim Idaho, one of the organizations in the coalition, began its first ballot initiative. That initiative was the Medicaid Expansion ballot measure, which passed overwhelmingly. It provided low-income Idaho workers with affordable medical coverage.

“At first, asking people to sign the petition was difficult,” she told the volunteers, “but each time it became easier and actually was a lot of fun.”

After the meeting, Mayville and McKenney’s husband, Rob, knocked on doors in the neighborhood. Mayville said voters in all but one of the houses they visited signed the petition.

“What you did here tonight will encourage volunteers in Bonner and Kootenai County,” Mayville told the McKenneys. Mayville and his assistant, Abi Sanford, distributed clipboards, petitions and resource materials to help Boundary Team volunteers as they obtain local signatures for the ballot initiative.

McKenney urges anyone interested in helping to gather signatures, whether from friends, family and neighbors, or going door to door, to sign up by calling her at (208) 610-2301.

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

A 9B Media LLC publication
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