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North Idaho — PAC Power 

A bipartisan political action committee is fighting back in local elections

click to enlarge Eden Irgens, board president of Balance North Idaho
  • Eden Irgens, board president of Balance North Idaho

Next month will bring a handful of local elections in Kootenai County, some that previously passed with little contest. This year, things are different. Hard-right group Kootenai County Reagan Republicans announced it would target the nonpartisan Kootenai Hospital District Board. In response, a new political action committee formed. Bipartisan and led by some of those most outspoken in the controversial anti-recall effort in Coeur d’Alene last year, Balance North Idaho is fundraising to support its picks for the hospital (Liese Razzeto and Jim Pierce, himself a Reagan Republican) and school board (Dave Eubanks, Christa Hazel, Tom Hearn). We sat down with the PAC’s Board President Eden Irgens to learn more.

INLANDER: What about the current political climate in North Idaho led you to start the PAC?

IRGENS: There are some efforts that have been made to basically take over all elected seats in Kootenai County. There’s room for every single person’s perspective in life, but this effort is just one certain type of mindset and that’s not representative of the people. We started this effort as a way to kind of counter that focused effort. … We’re offering balance to a very heavy weighted-to-the-far-right political atmosphere and focusing on the best candidate for the job.

What specific impacts do you see if these ideologies take hold?

One thing [is] not wanting any federal money. I’m going to use the school district as an example. There are … I want to say 60 percent of our kids … are on free and reduced lunch. That money doesn’t come out of the sky. Those kids don’t have a lot at home and money that pays for that comes out of federal coffers. We all as human beings pay federal and state taxes. I want some of that money back in my community.

Is there a role for you in city politics?

We’re going to be involved in the [Coeur d’Alene] city council races this fall. ... We’ve seen some episodes of imbalance on city council. We want, again, to have the best candidates with right ideas for our city, who have open minds to all parts of the dialogue, to be in place there.

What kind of feedback are you getting?

We’re getting a ton of support. It’s almost like there was a hole with things leaning so far to the right in recent years, and so much ideology thrown into things. There are people coming out of the woodwork who are so thankful to have another option locally.

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