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Our Questions... Their Answers Question 2

2. The BCHRTF was established in 1992 to confront the growing

challenges of white supremacist organizations and activities in and

around Bonner County. To what extent do you think that challenge exists

today around the work that you will be doing as an elected official?


Elle Susnis:

I think this is a challenge that is ongoing, and one we address consistently as a community and as elected officials: that we do not welcome that extremist mindset in this community.

a. 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 need to keep up the good work of calling out extremist behavior when we see it.

Frytz Mor:

I have not personally experienced, or associate with anyone who identifies with these organizations. I do not see their undue influence or imprint on our daily lives around Sandpoint. No to say they do not exist. Those organizations would not hold any sway over me as an elected official. Again, we return to our founding in Equal Justice and Liberty for ALL. a. 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 counter the “reputation” by demonstrating we are not. We do this thru equal application of the Law and showing ourselves as a Just community.

Grant Simmons:

a. While we've made progress since the 1990s, the shadows of past white supremacist activities still linger in parts of North Idaho. As an elected official, I acknowledge the responsibility of ensuring that hate has no place in our community. b. Countering the reputation requires a proactive and unified approach. We need to celebrate our diversity, sponsor community events that highlight varied cultures and backgrounds, and champion educational programs in schools that teach the values of inclusivity and respect. Ensuring our actions loudly echo the message of respect, acceptance, and unity will gradually reshape our image nationally. Much more unites than divides us - let's embrace that fact.

Pam Duquette:

With my previous examples of vandalism at the city beach, I would hope that the elected officials our community votes for have been chosen because they do not share ideologies and activities with white supremacist organizations. This can be done by thoroughly vetting candidates before voting. With approximately 90% of our population being white, our challenges may be exacerbated by attracting people who come here because of that, thus, bringing the racist factor to our community. I never did hear what the distasteful graffiti at our local high school was. More discrimination against whom I wonder? a. I think as time goes on, we can lead by example to rid us of this reputation. Calling out racist behavior, removing unwanted graffiti, and vocalizing against discriminatory mailings, postings, etc., will help. I always appreciated the “see something, say something” campaigns in our schools. Donating to and volunteering with organizations like the BCHRTF are also great examples. Leading by example is obvious through organizing and attending Pride Festivals, well chosen documentaries, ethnic music shows and workshops like the recent “The Cure for Hate.” Our local library also helps nurture these values as well, i.e. book groups.

Jeremy Grimm:

I expect this and other challenges to persist. a. What do you think can be done to counter the reputation that North Idaho has, nationwide, as a haven for racists and white nationalists? Continue to support BCHRTF.

Deb Fragoso Ruehle:

The City of Sandpoint has a non-discriminatory policy for staffing, and all have freedom to assemble although can be restricted to an area for safety when it is presumed a public conflict may occur. There are also policies written for such.

2a. We continue to stand our ground and push back against any person or group that has an agenda of hate. We continue to demonstrate what a loving community we are through all of our nonprofits groups and anti-discrimnation policies.


Kate McAlister:

It seems as though we are continually fighting this issue, which is horrific, in my opinion. With the influx of population from other states I have seen this even in the Chamber when individuals come in and are thinking about moving here. They have no problem with telling me why they are moving here – i.e. ‘it’s nice and white here', ‘it’s great to move to a state with like-minded people’, on and on. I always respond by saying ‘ not everyone here thinks like you do and maybe somewhere else would be better for your move.’ Truly the aggravating part is they think because they are in Idaho we all think alike. Not true at all.

a. 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 believe we need to be vigilant and true to who we are. This is America and you can believe what you want, however, this is our community and keep those things to yourself, or leave.


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