The Task Force submitted questions to each of the candidates in the upcoming election. Here's the reply from Andy Groat, candidate for Sandpoint City Council.
Note from candidate:
Thank you so much for reaching out! I really appreciate the BCHRTF! I grew up in Spokane in the 90s' while this community was fighting for the Human Right's of its citizens. I am very proud to be here now and proud of the people that came before me.
1. The mission of the BCHRTF is to affirm the American principles and ideals of the inviolable dignity and worth of each human being. Who do you think experiences the most discrimination in our community? Is it discrimination based upon race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic status or disability (including mental illness)?
I would like to see the reasonable middle ground and the ability to have a conversation not be discriminated against. This is a mentality, not a people group and it break my heart that people cannot find a way into a conversation that they are passionate about. I have found that people chose to turn away from involvement either out of frustration or apathy. Or they unreasonable dig their heels in on issues that then become a wedge, forgetting that we are all in this TOGETHER.
2. The BCHRTF was established in 1992 to confront the growing challenges of white supremacist organizations and activities in our around Bonner County. To what extent do you think that challenge exists today? Is this still a challenge—or should the TF say ‘mission accomplished?
The 1990s' were an impossibly difficult time for Bonner County, I was in my late teens', early twenties and experienced this from Spokane. The mission to put an end to racism, discrimination, bigotry, supremacy will always need to be fought. There is always work to be done bring people together and resisting hate.
3. What do you think can be done to counter the reputation that North Idaho has, nationwide, as a haven for racists and white nationalists?
We will continue to stand strong and know who we are. Charge forward, proclaiming there is no room for hate here.
4. How does this reputation affect the lives of those of us who live here? How does this reputation affect our community’s ability to attract potential employees and visitors?
The beauty of this place and its people is our regions reputation. While our past is part of our history it does not define us. Collectively it is up to us to be greater than any hateful reputation of the past. We have a legacy of bright, intelligent resilient fighters. That is a reputation all of us can be proud of.
5. How important do you think it is to work toward making Sandpoint a community where everyone feels valued, everyone feels safe and everyone can thrive?
My goal as a citizen of Sandpoint is to work together to make Sandpoint better. I have challenged myself to be more ENGAGED, INFORMED and INVOLVED. Elected or not that will not change. I greatly appreciate those who came before me and I take their sacrifices seriously. We stand on the shoulders of giants and should respect the view they have fought for us to share.
Again, thank you for all that the BCHRTF has done and will continue to do! I look for to being a partner and a peaceful fighter.