Beginning this month, the Lewiston Tribune will launch a new string of columnists — with a twist.
This new group will join our cadre of right-of-center contributors — Cindy Agidius, Richard Eggleston, Marvin F. Dugger and Bob Hassoldt — who share space on this page each Sunday.
But these writers will bring a different, more progressive perspective. They will appear in mid-week.
Their mission is two-fold: Offer more variety to our readers and free-up the editor of this page for semiretirement.
Among the new contributors:
Shelley Dumas, of Grange-ville. Readers know Dumas from the letters she has submitted to this page and she promises to deliver more of the same.
“In northern Idaho, I enjoyed an ideal, (pre-TV) childhood with the space and encouragement to explore, play, create, read and learn. Those opportunities, combined with an excellent public school and college education, set the course for some grand experiences and adventures,” Dumas said. “Whether my gardens or public lands, the outdoors is my go-to place for balance and perspective. Words and ideas are important to me and I try to follow my personal guideline: Write what you know. (Let’s see what happens with that.)”
Russell Gee, of Lewiston. His background includes everything from writing for the Spokesman-Review to serving as a special education teacher for nearly three decades in the Lewiston schools. In between, there’s been landscaping, interning with the Idaho governor’s office, commercial fishing in Alaska and instructing student drivers.
“Politically, I am an independent because I do not fit into the cubbyholes of the Democratic or Republican platforms. I deplore the idea of always voting straight party ticket because that is irresponsible,” he said. “I just hope I can put ideas out there that have some merit, raise some important questions, provoke thought and generate some discussion.”
Larry LaRocco, of Boise. His pedigree includes being based in Moscow in the late 1970s, where he served as U.S. Sen. Frank Church’s northern Idaho regional representative, representing Idaho’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1991 to 1995 and immersing himself in public lands issues and political campaigns — both his own and those of others.
“I am deeply concerned about new threats to democracy in Idaho and beyond,” LaRocco said. “I don’t countenance simple ‘whataboutism’ arguments when a supermajority keeps lurching to the far right, energized by conspiracy theories.”
Ivar Nelson, of Moscow. To his column, Nelson brings an eclectic background — a small businessman with BookPeople of Moscow, publisher with UI Press and Solstice Press, promoter of the performing arts with the Kenworthy Theatre and a backer of community viability with the Latah Economic Development Council.
“I have seen that successful communities are built on the active involvement of organizations in community life, whether it be by creating a skating rink or by supporting graduating seniors as they choose their next steps,” Nelson said. “I want to write about those challenges on the local level, challenges that can be faced and solved in a pragmatic manner.”
Shirley Ringo, of Moscow. You may recognize her as a seven-term Democratic member of the Idaho House or from the 38 years she spent teaching mathematics to students at all levels, from middle school through college.
“My interest in politics began at early age and was shaped in part when I visited my Republican grandparents and a number of their friends at their farm,” Ringo said. “They were discussing the virtues of Thomas Dewey as a presidential candidate. The room became suddenly quiet when I mentioned that my parents would be voting for Harry Truman.”
Although her mother later told her that remark was not polite, Ringo maintained, “A calm discussion of ideas is both appropriate and necessary.”
John Rusche, of Clarkston. His medical career included practicing pediatrics beginning in 1980, followed by his service as medical director and senior vice president for Regence in Idaho. From there, Rusche spent six terms in the Idaho House, including four as the House minority leader.
“My training and experience in health care and health care financing and first-hand view of the Idaho legislative and governmental processes has left me with a pragmatic outlook to our times, and a firm belief that the importance of the role of ‘public servants’ lies in the service aspect,” Rusche said. “Our government has a duty, prescribed in law, to use resources in the best, most efficient way to promote the common good with a view to the future as well as addressing current concerns.”
Mark Sherry, of Lewiston. Sherry’s professional background included 30 years working on state insurance laws. In that capacity, he helped Idaho revise its statutes in the 1990s to both restrain runaway pricing and guarantee more access to health insurance in the Gem State. He writes music, has taught in the Lewiston schools for 14 years and occasionally teased insights out of the latest news headlines in letters to this page.
“More recently, I have seen the current Idaho government transform itself from one that cares about its citizens to one that only favors political cronies,” he said.
This promises to be a crackerjack bunch of local writers. Please welcome them to your Tribune Opinion page. — M.T.