Two long-time political players in their respective states this past week gracefully steppped off of and away from the political stage upon which they had acted with class, courage and intelligence for fifty years.
The first, Tom Stroschein, was a two term Latah County Commissioner who chose not to run again in 2014. He epitomizes what everyone likes to see in a local elected official: country smart, a great story teller, a sense of humor, hard working with a ton of common sense, an ingrained sense of integrity and one who believes deeply in the importance of holding the public trust. Tom saw public service as a calling.
On July 29th over 300 people gathered at the Elk Creek campground shelter in Elk River to wish Tom a happy 80th birthday. Organized by his multi-talented spouse, Ruby, it was a fine tribute to a fine man who not only is glad to see 80, but also as he finally steps off the stage and fades into the sunset wanted to thank the many family members and friends who have stood by him over the years.
He and Ruby called it a “Sheepeater’s Shindig,” in part because Tom was a woolgrower for many years, running the family sheep ranch outside of Aberdeen. They served the most tender roasted lamb one could ever taste.
His father, Roy, served one term in the Legislature, from 1965 to 1967, representing Power county. The 1965 Legislature though has gone down in Idaho history as probably the most productive ever especially because it enacted the sales tax to pay for education. Though he spent just a short time there he did strike a chord with a young state senator by the name of Cecil Andrus.
A few years later when Andrus was governor he named Roy to the three member Idaho Transportation board. Andrus also appointed Tom to the now abolished Woolgrower’s board.
Though long a loyal supporter of Andrus’, and a long-time Democrat, Tom has decided to register as a Republican for the May primary in order to vote for a family friend and fellow woolgrower, Lt. Governor Brad Little.
He’s the kind of public servant we need more of - a man who puts friendship ahead of partisanship, the national interest ahead of self-interest. Though now having put himself on the political sidelines, his many friends, family members and fans hope he stays involved.
The second class act last week was that performed by Arizona Senator John McCain, who once again demonstrated the uncommon courage he is noted for by voting against the seven-year long Republican led effort to repeal ObamaCare with no replacement coverage established.
McCain knew millions would lose coverage, that the well-off would receive an undeserved tax break bonanza, and Medicaid would be gutted. McCain acted out of principle though he must have enjoyed a bit the ability to stick it to the Trump Administration which he views as incompetently run.
McCain, along with fellow Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska deserve their own chapter in any new issue of “Profiles in Courage.”
Stroschein, McCain, Collins and Murkowski are the kind of thoughtful public servants we need more of because they reject overt patisanship and work for solutions through compromise. Idaho’s current two senators, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, could learn much about courage and standing up for equal justice from any of these four.
All are class acts and the first two truly distinguished themselvesthis past week. Tom of course is retired and Senator McCain may have a form of aggressive terminal cancer that will end his career prematurely.
There was one totally classless act last week that in the view of many disqualifies the person from even considering seeking a public office. Her name is Janice McGeachin, a former one-term state representative from Idaho Falls, who is aspiring to be Idaho’s next Lt. Governor.
In the minds of many she disqualified herself when upon learning about John McCain’s vote sent out a Facebook message calling McCain a traitor. Given several opportunities to retract this outrageous statement, she did nothing.
Several writers pointed out the implied penalty when the term is used, that is execution, she still refused to amend or change her statement. This type of insane fanaticism has no place in our nation’s debates over policy and politics. It was a classless statement which anyone with an ounce of brains would have retracted and apologized. Here is hoping she withdraws or, if she stays in, receives the public condemnation and rejection she warrants.