Kootenai County Commissioners and members of the Optional Forms of Government Study Commission, thank you for inviting the Democrats to contribute to this important discussion.

Democrats care, more than anything else, about good government. Whether we talk about federal, state, county or local government, our concerns are the same. We advocate for government that is open and accountable and is responsive to change. Good government forms the basis of a fair society. Human rights, good schools, a healthy environment, and a thriving business community all rely on good government.

Democrats support your endeavor to re-examine the 3-commissioner method that is currently in place in our county. The 3-commissioner form of government may have worked well when few people lived here, but the Idaho Business Review states that Coeur d’Alene is the “5th fastest growing metropolitan area in the country.”

To adapt to rapid growth and to meet the needs of a larger and more diverse population we should at least consider a more sophisticated and perhaps different form of government.

Our 3-commissioner method may be problematic, regardless of the county’s population. It has no minimum requirement for residency prior to becoming a commissioner. Commissioners only control the power of the purse. They have no direct way to hold their officers accountable for their actions. The commissioners cannot speak to one another confidentially, because two together make up a quorum and thus their meeting must be held publicly. There may be other problems as well.

What may be worse, our current form of government, with only 3 commissioners, is too easy to politicize by either of our two major political parties.

We are witnessing, at North Idaho College, how an institution of government deteriorates when one party exerts its own agenda unchecked. Politicization of the NIC Board of Trustees has led to the abuse of power, abuse of the rights of the minority, a lost reputation. And it has placed NIC’s accreditation at risk.

Democrats hope to protect Kootenai County government from this sort of damage.

Democrats, therefore, look forward to helping you with your investigation. We wish to remain involved. Please keep us in the loop.

Thank you.

Evan Koch, Chair

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