The Task Force submitted questions to each of the candidates in the upcoming election. Here's the reply from Jacque Guinan, candidate for Sandpoint City Council.
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 have found Sandpoint to be one of the most caring and friendly communities I have ever had the pleasure to live in and be a part of. My view is that at some point during the course of our lives; we all have felt the sting of discrimination in some form or another. Although you will see instances of isolated discrimination by a few individuals in virtually any city in America; I feel that Sandpoint has shown itself to be a very loving and inclusive community that welcomes people from all angles of life.
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?
I am not aware of any organized white supremacist groups within Sandpoint or Bonner County. I think that as long as there is even one instance of racism in our community then that is one too many and we should of course, immediately denounce it as unacceptable.
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?
I am not sure in what circles North Idaho has such a reputation. As someone not having grown up here but rather came into North Idaho from Utah several years ago; I had actually never heard anything negative about North Idaho. What I did hear constantly, was of North Idaho's pristine beauty and abundant wilderness and I certainly feel it lives up to that reputation. I think it is important for us to focus on the abundant good that exists here and if we do that, then our reputation will not really be a tangible issue.
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?
I don't necessarily agree that reputation exists and if it does exist in some peoples' minds; I would suggest they come to Sandpoint and spend some time. I think they would find that this is an exceptionally caring and friendly community where people of all sorts of differing backgrounds, skin colors and beliefs feel accepted and welcomed. I don't feel a reputation has the power to affect our community unless we make it a focal point and allow it to taint our views and/or behavior.
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?
I think this is critically important. These are some of the most basic of human needs and I feel that we should always be looking for opportunities to affirm those around us. A simple smile or short statement that points out something positive about someone you come in contact with can brighten their entire day. As a city council member; I feel it is vitally important that every member of the community knows that you will be a person who will look out for their best interests every opportunity you get. They should know that you value and respect them as people; no matter your differences . Every human being has worth and should be treated with respect and dignity.
6. Do you feel that has been achieved, and if not, what stands in the way?
I think it is achieved over and over again on a daily basis. I am constantly amazed by the outpouring of love I see from members of the Sandpoint community to others. I think there is always more we can do to find ways to show others their worth and it would be a great thing if we all made that one of our daily goals.
7. If you are elected, what is the first step you would take toward making the above vision a reality? I think a good first step as a city council member is to make sure to be a good listener and an effective communicator. Most of the time, strife rises up as a direct result of poor listening and communication.
I think it does the community a disservice to segregate everyone with labels and focus on our differences - why not cast aside the labels and instead, focus on what we have in common - A love for our community.