Hardline conservative group weighs in on Boise trustee races

A hardline conservative group has endorsed a slate of candidates in the Sept. 6 Boise School Board elections — and, mostly, a slate of challengers.

In a Tuesday Facebook post, the Idaho Liberty Dogs endorsed Race #1 challengers Krista Hasler and Greg Woodard, who are running against incumbents Beth Oppenheimer and Dave Wagers for a pair of board spots; Race #2 challenger Neil “Gnome” Mercer over incumbent Andy Hawes and challenger Matthew Shapiro; Race #3 challenger Todd Kurowski over incumbent Elizabeth Langley and challengers Nate Dean and Dawn King; and Race #4 incumbent Steve Schmidt over challenger Shiva Rajbhandari.

“The local school board elections are so critical! The historical turnout of 1.5% to 6.5% is totally unacceptable,” the Liberty Dogs said in its post. “Let’s honor the Boise School District’s students, parents, teachers and staff by getting out to vote. Your children are counting on you!”

In his own Facebook post — accompanied by a family photo, complete with, well, the family dog — Schmidt seemed to distance himself from the Liberty Dogs.

“Depending upon your personal beliefs, that (endorsement) may give you cause for concern or comfort,” Schmidt wrote. “I am not a member of their group and I don’t represent them.”

Schmidt touted support from across the political spectrum. And, indeed, the Boise Education Association has endorsed all five incumbents, including Schmidt. A group of former Boise superintendents and trustees also endorsed the incumbents this week.

In a statement, Rajbhandari urged Schmidt to disavow the Liberty Dogs’ backing.

“Our school board elections are an essential component of public input on K-12, but they’re also an opportunity for groups such as these to advance their hateful agenda,” he said. “I will represent the interests of all BSD families, not just the loudest and most disruptive voices.”

The Liberty Dogs are at the center of a controversy surrounding the Meridian library. The group has decried “smut-filled pornography” at the library. Last week, an overflow crowd of more than 200 people — supporters and critics of the library alike — showed up at a board meeting to testify on the library’s collection. The board took no action.



Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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