Today is Presidents’ Day – a day off for most Idaho Education Association members. Yet many of you took time today to organize and attend Day of Solidarity meetings to share stories, meet with your local lawmakers, and organize for upcoming campaigns.
If you are reading the Hotline, chances are you are already active within your association, but many of your colleagues have yet to engage. The most patriotic thing you can do today (and tomorrow and the next day and next month and all year) is reach out to colleagues to be sure they’ve registered to vote in this year’s important elections. A surprising number of educators are not registered to vote or have not updated their registration. People who have moved or changed their name in the past few years may need to re-register. This tool on the Idaho Secretary of State website can help you learn whether or not your registration is current. (Click on “Am I registered?”)
Elections don’t just happen in November. This year’s events include school levies all across Idaho in March and May; a May 15 primary that – in many Idaho districts – will determine who sits in the Idaho Legislature next year; and the general election on November 6 that will settle the remaining legislative races and determine whether the harmful education laws passed last year will be overturned with three NO votes on Propositions 1, 2, and 3. Of course, this is a presidential election year, too.
Some big deadlines are coming up. A week from today, the two-week filing period opens for candidates who want to run in Idaho’s May 15 primary election. Candidates for all levels – from precinct captain to Congress – must file between February 27 and March 9 to appear on the May ballot.
Under changes to Idaho election law, if you want to run for any office, you must declare a party. The Republican Party primary is now closed, meaning only declared Republicans can vote in it; the Democratic primary is open to all Democrats and Independents who want to take part. But anyone who wants to run for office on any level must declare a party.
Neither party has a monopoly on supporting strong schools, so it is important to be strategic as a voter and as a candidate. If you live in an area of Idaho that is heavily dominated by the Republican Party, it makes most sense to vote in the Republican primary, especially if there is a moderate alternative to someone who has consistently voted against strong public schools. Such lawmakers currently dominate the Idaho Legislature, but if moderate Republicans stood up to challenge them in the primary, things could change.
Perhaps you or someone you know is such a person. If so, maybe this is the year to take a moderate stand against the extremist forces who are not listening to Idaho families of both parties (as well as independents) who want strong schools. Meanwhile, Democratic incumbents are also strong supporters of public education, and they deserve the support of their neighbors, too, both in May and in November. The most important thing is to register and vote.
Note: The May primary is different from the presidential caucus process. Idaho GOP voters will meet March 6 to take part in the presidential nominating process, while Democrats plan to caucus April 14 to reaffirm support for President Barack Obama.