It is often said “power corrupts,” and “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
There are exceptions to that rule and one exists in Benewah County.
For almost 40 years one person has worn lightly with grace and humility the crown of absolute political power in this north Idaho county: County Commissioner Jack Buell.
Now 76 years young he has served the public interest well, won many friends along the way, and most would admit made some enemies also. Jack wears his heart on his sleeve. He personifies the old adage, “show me a man with no enemies and I’ll show you a man with no character. If you stand for anything in this world you make enemies.”
By this definition Jack may have lots of character. Two entities that have felt the lash of his tongue and done little to endear themselves to him over the years are the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the Idaho State Police.
Jack is also what a fan of his, former Governor Cecil D. Andrus, would call a “lunch bucket” Democrat - a person who cares about jobs and people having decent-paying jobs where they make an honest day’s wage for an honest day’s labor so they can provide for their children’s education while also enjoying Idaho’s quality of life on weekends.
Given that both Cece and Jack come out of the “slab, sliver and knothole” business it is no coincidence there is a casual mutually respectable affinity between the two.
As the founder of Jack A. Buell Trucking he has provided jobs for many folks in and around Benewah County for many years. His unique “Jack Buell green” (reportedly a registered color) trucks which started by hauling logs but now also haul chips are a familiar sight on the roads and highways of north Idaho.
What few know is that Jack understands loyalty and believes in investing in people. He is especially loyal to his employees and their families and he knows too that it is a two-way street. During economically challenging times he strives to keep as many workers employed as he can and loathes laying anyone off.
People don’t forget that kind of loyalty.
For years now anyone who holds any statewide public office, or aspires to hold such offices, make it a point to trek to St. Maries, the county seat, to court and cultivate Jack. A shrewd judge of people and character, his recommendations about who to support and why he was voting for or against someone becomes an implied command for the many who respect him. (more…)