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It is with great gratitude and enthusiasm that the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations Board of Directors pens this guest opinion in honor of our dear friends Mike and Sholeh Patrick as they take their next journey in life to the great state of Florida after decades

with us. Civil and human rights, diversity, inclusion, and social justice have no greater friends than Mike and Sholeh. During the more than 41 years of our Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations’ efforts to advance human rights, we have had no greater friends or supporters than the Patricks.

This remarkable couple day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year have stood up for what is good, honorable, right, just, fair and yes, advocating for every individual’s constitutional rights to freedom, equality and justice under the law that is the creed of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations.

Mike and Sholeh in their varying job assignments as columnists, editorial writers, reporters and prominent journalists have always been willing to publish our human rights organization’s guest opinions, cover our press conferences, share our announcements of major events and publicize our calls to the citizenry for action in support of civil and human rights as well as our support for victims of hate crimes or discrimination cases. They have often joined us at many of the functions we sponsor such as the annual human rights banquet while Mike assigns reporters to cover those major events.

The late Catholic priest and human rights activist Father Bill Wassmuth once told Tony Stewart that it was the media that had given us an open window to the world to share our message of civil and human rights. No journalists have opened that window wider or more often than Mike and Sholeh.

It is important to note that among many of Mike’s accomplishments and part of his legacy has been his decades long mentoring of young aspiring journalists, turning them into well seasoned professional journalists.

Some of those individuals have gone on to work at newspapers and TV networks across America. In some cases, those journalists have been recognized for their investigative reports revealing abusive behavior in both the public and private sectors.

Mike and Sholeh are highly respected and admired by our KCTFHR board for their commitment to the First Amendment, bedrock support of democracy as enshrined in the United States Constitution, and especially their support for those individuals without either political power or equal voices compared to the powerful forces in society. This courage in the face of harsh critics is the pinnacle of integrity. It was no surprise in 2021 for us to witness the induction of Sholeh and Mike into the Idaho Hall of Fame. Finally, we will be eternally grateful to this remarkable couple for what they have done for all society and especially the support they have given to the work of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations. Godspeed to you, our friends, on this next stage of your life.

CDA Press Opinion by Tony Stewart

••• Tony Stewart is secretary and Christie Wood is president of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations board of directors.

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