Back in the early 1960s, when I was studying political science at the University of Oregon, I first encountered the term “Yellow Dog Democrat.” Those were Southern Democrats who would vote for a yellow dog rather than a Republican. Since that time, the parties in the South have switched positions, but my point is that the Southern Democrats of yore were straight-ticket voters.

    Although I voted pretty much along party lines during the 1970s and ’80s, I often saw candidates from the other party who had much more to offer than those from my own party. George Washington’s warnings against partisan politics started to make sense. I understood why my mom, Eunice Jones, always said she voted for the person, not the party.

    There are good people in both parties. That is certainly the case in the current election cycle. Lawrence Wasden, a Republican, is clearly the best choice for attorney general, while Cindy Wilson, a Democrat, is absolutely tops for state superintendent of public instruction. I voted early for both of them.

    Lawrence has done an excellent job as attorney general. He has given sound advice to the governor and Legislature, but has withstood a great deal of criticism for not telling his party leaders what they wanted to hear on some legal issues. When his advice was disregarded, he was usually proven right by the courts.

    He has stood up to the federal government on nuclear waste issues, insisting on nuclear waste being removed from Idaho as the feds had promised and agreed to in 1995. Without his steadfast leadership, the Nuclear Waste Settlement Agreement would likely have been set aside. Lawrence has exhibited courage and common sense in protecting the interests of our state and has merited another term of office.

    Having grown up in the Republican Party and having carried its banner in five elections from 1978 to 1990, it feels a bit odd to be publicly announcing my vote for Cindy Wilson. But I know that voting for her was the right thing to do for Idaho kids. She will be an enthusiastic advocate for our children and will make sure to prepare them for success in their future.

    I was captivated by Cindy’s life story at a ceremony when she was recognized by Boise’s Concordia Law School as a state leader in education. I learned that it was just one of many honors she has received for her dedicated work in improving Idaho schools.

    When I accepted Cindy’s invitation to speak to her six government classes at Capital High School, I understood why she is so highly regarded in the education community. The kids were aware of current issues, expressed views from all sides of the spectrum and were enthused about the prospect of working together to tackle the difficult problems that we have dumped in their laps. It gave me renewed hope for the future.

    Cindy is the kind of person we need to reinvigorate our schools and give our children the best chance of succeeding in life. I felt good about giving her my vote, thinking my mother was absolutely right about voting for the best person and not just the party.


Jim Jones is former chief justice of the Idaho Supreme Court and a former Idaho attorney general.

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