On election eve, I have been thinking a great deal about the people on the ballot here in Idaho. This year is a year of a strong, determined slate of Democratic candidates who gave endlessly not only of themselves but of their bank accounts to make things happen for the oft-forgotten Democratic Party in Idaho.
From a somewhat outside perspective I have watched with interest the campaign of Holli Woodings, impressed by her respect for the election system that is undoubtedly in danger if Lawerence Denney becomes Secretary of State. I have watched newcomer A.J. Balukoff and have had my hope renewed that Democrats can compete in this state. I've met Nels Mitchell, an intelligent liberal, yes, I said liberal. And I have been reminded of what it is Shirley Ringo possesses that makes her so well liked and respected by Democrats and Republicans alike.
Where I am no outsider or unbiased observer is in the lieutenant governor race and the race for the 2nd congressional district. The first I'll write about here, the other in a separate piece.
I am reminded of when Senator Bert Marley announced on the lawn of the state capitol
building in 2006 that he would be seeking the office of State
Superintendent of Public Instruction, he stated that when he began
teaching "he went from working everyday for [his] own success to working
everyday to ensure the success of [his] students." I continue to attest to
the honesty in that statement as his former student. I truly believe that his commitment to his students, his family, his faith are all things that are only rivaled by his commitment to this state. Electing Bert to the office of lieutenant governor would be to the advantage of a state that desperately needs honest, brave leadership.
While, unlike his top of the ticket running mate Butch Otter, Brad Little has done nothing to offend Idaho voters. But he isn't a high profile leader, either.
In 2006, Marley lost to Jana Jones in that superintendent's race. Jones alienated many Democrats and Bert's supporters were crushed on election night. I was no different. It was one of the toughest political heartbreaks of my young life. It stings to this day. However, I never thought I would have the opportunity to vote for him again. Having him on the ballot in 2014 means I have the pleasure of casting my ballot once again for someone I believe has and can still make a mark on the direction of this state.
For those just tuning in, my reason, as a former student of Senator Marley, for wanting to cast my ballot for him is because I
can say without hesitation that my life would be drastically different if
it were not for the influence of Bert Marley.
When I was fifteen years old, I was lost in the usual ways that a fifteen-year-old can be. But for me, my life felt fractured in ways that most high school students don't experience. I was frustrated by my inability to do well in all of my classes, failing several my freshman year after what had been a blemish-free academic record up until that point. Had I not been in Bert's classroom that year, I would have dropped out of high school when I was sixteen. It was my only goal--to reach the age where I could.
In elections, in all the debate over the
issues, in the nitpicking how realistic the goals the candidates have for the office itself, and the
reforms they hope to implement, we seem to overlook the little things
that are so important to voters, not just on a political level, but on a
human level. The influence Bert Marley as an educator has had in my
life is immeasurable and that very x-factor that is far too often overlooked in elections.
Just as I believed six years ago that he would make an exceptional State Superintendent of Public Instruction, in hindsight a decision the voters of Idaho ended up costing the children of this state, I
have no doubt that Bert Marley would make a great lieutenant governor.