North Idaho

Partisan politics dominate school board election

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - What's supposed to be a non-partisan race has turned into a display of party politics. The Coeur d'Alene School Board elections Tuesday are raising questions about the motivation of some candidates.

It's difficult to ignore the signs on the side of the road in Coeur d'Alene. Brent Regan lists himself as a Republican on his sign and his opponent Christa Hazel lists herself as a "common sense conservative." They are two campaign signs touting partisan politics for a non-partisan seat on the Coeur d'Alene School Board.

"For some people though, that is the only important thing is what party you're affiliated with," Hazel said.

"It's a matter of convenience, if you will, because people see that and they say 'Okay I know a little bit what he's about on his political side' that doesn't mean it's a partisan office," Regan said.

CdA School Board election

Both candidates say they can serve on the school board without politics getting in the way. However, both candidates are also backed by groups focused on party affiliation.

Regan is endorsed by "Reagan Republicans" whose mission statement on their website is "actively building the new conservative majority."

Hazel is endorsed by "Balance North Idaho" which formed in direct response to Reagan Republicans.

"Several of us were a little, I don't know what you would say, concerned about the Reagan Republicans trying to attempt to take over all of the elected seats in town and they have been pretty successful, " Balance North Idaho founder and president Eden Irgens said.

Irgens has a child in the Coeur d'Alene School District and said the current school board is made up of only like-minded people. She said this has isolated Coeur d'Alene parents, not to mention teachers, who have differing opinions.

Irgens said if all Reagan Republican-backed candidates win this school board election the consequences would be dire.

"We would have an exodus from teachers, I'm sure a lot of people are waiting to see what happens with this election," Irgens says.

All attempts to reach Reagan Republicans through phone and email for a response were unsuccessful Monday.

Ballots for the Coeur d'Alene School Board election are due Tuesday which has both Regan and Hazel doing everything they can to get out the vote. Even if that means bringing politics into a position both admit has nothing to do with being a Republican, common-sense conservative or otherwise.

"I think a lot of the attention that's been going toward a question of partisanship – that's just a smoke screen, there really isn't an issue behind it," Regan said.

"For me, I look at it as regardless of the partisan politics we should be focused on education," Hazel said.