A Voice for a Thoughtful, Compassionate Government
In an interesting twist, long-time educator Jim Francis has decided to run as a write-in candidate for Idaho State Senate. Here are his thoughts on who he is, and why he decided to take the plunge as a write-in candidate:
I decided to enter the race for a seat in the Idaho State Senate in order to offer a voice for progressive politics. I have come to see the wisdom of the domestic policies of Theodore Roosevelt’s Progressive Era programs and Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Both leaders realized that government had to act as the agent of the people and that an unregulated economy created innocent victims and threatened the free market itself. The Progressive Era and New Deal reforms such as the FDIC that remained in place in the twenty-first century helped to prevent the 2008 crash from generating a complete collapse of the United Statesian economy. We must not abandon those types of programs; we must expand them.
“Now I have decided to move from academics to politics as a means of taking my faith in the democratic ideals of equality, liberty, and justice into legislative action.”
It is true that at the state level we as a society cannot develop policies for the national economy, but we Idahoans can demonstrate through our voice that the government is our agent looking out for those least able to protect themselves. I believe we are a compassionate people and that government policies must reflect this compassion if it is to be a government that truly represents the people. The moral of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol applies to good government. Scrooge realized that he owed his worker a living wage, that he had the resources to provide health care to his worker’s child, and that he could provide all of these basic needs to the poorest of society and still be a successful capitalist. There is a message in this story that the government of Idaho has ignored for the past several years. I am running for a state Senate seat as an advocate for bringing our state government into line with the values of the reformed Scrooge. I believe these values reflect the core values of Idahoans.
I am sixty-seven years old (sixty-eight on October 12, 2016), and I come to politics after a forty-three year career as an educator at both the secondary and college level. My parents moved to Idaho in the early 1950s when my father began his career as materials and fuels engineer and manager at the atomic energy site. I attended schools in District 91 and graduated from high school in 1966 having been inspired by Mae Neuber’s teaching and the writings of Mark Twain and Barbara Tuchman.
After high school I attended the College of Wooster, a small liberal arts school in Ohio; I then went on to graduate from Arizona State University in 1970 with a B.A. in history. After working as a dishwasher, a shipping clerk, and a postal clerk in the Washington, D.C., area for a year, I enrolled at Idaho State University to complete the requirements for my teaching certification. After teaching for three years in East Cleveland, Ohio, I moved back to the West in the mid-1970s. I completed my master’s degree at the University of British Columbia and took a teaching position in Idaho Falls in 1977. After teaching junior high school history for ten years, I accepted an offer to teach history at Idaho Falls High School beginning in 1988. Teaching became a lifestyle; my designing of lessons, my travels, my reading, and my writing all became intertwined. I came to see that the primary purpose of an educator is to unlock the genius within students. In 1998-1999 I earned National Board Teacher Certification. National Board Certification requires teachers to demonstrate that they meet research-based standards of thoughtful understandings of their academic subject as well as of child development.
The research I did as a teacher in the process of developing lessons for the students, the original and creative thoughts of the students I taught, and the seminars I attended in order to try to improve my academic knowledge and my skills as a teacher gradually coalesced into my progressive political philosophy and my belief that leadership is a crucial piece in the maintenance of a democratic society. Over the years I have been blessed with local, state, and national recognition of my teaching including being selected as Idaho Teacher of the Year in 1997. To me three of the most significant of the awards I have received are the local Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award for the promotion of democracy, the local Daughters of the American Revolution as an outstanding teacher of history, and the Idaho Humanities Council’s Humanities Teacher of the Year Award. All of these awards were recognitions that the process of helping students to develop the skill of analytical thinking and writing is a key element of society’s protecting and advancing democratic ideals.
When I retired from public school teaching in 2011, I accepted a position as a part-time instructor for the Idaho State University’s History Department. In my university courses I continued to develop lessons based on the complex questions associated with defining and promoting democracy. Now I have decided to move from academics to politics as a means of taking my faith in the democratic ideals of equality, liberty, and justice into legislative action. Voters can expect that my decisions will be guided by Charles Dickens’ messages, by the principles of equality and human rights in the Declaration of Independence, and by the definition of citizenship in the conclusion to the Declaration of Independence. Our independence as a republic and the democratic principles that justify our nation can be maintained only by our willingness to commit our lives, our honor, and our fortunes to those principles.