grief

Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019

The campaign is over. I won. As I go through the holidays and meet up with friends old and new, there is time to share what is going on in life. Many of them are retiring. Ten years ago, that was my plan, too. Retire in my late 50’s. Take Fall river trips. Go backcountry skiing in Spring when the days are longer and the nights a little more mild. Summer backpacking trips and lazy days in the garden. Time to visit my kids, and time to read books. Instead, I am embarking on a new career. I just accepted a job that is full time plus. I couldn’t be more thrilled, more humbled…and, yes, a little nervous. The kind folks of Latah County are trusting me to do my best in this role. It is not a responsibility I take lightly.

2018 was a long year. Campaigns as a first time candidate are grueling. Fundraising letters and their associated thank you notes and bookkeeping. Designing signs and composing radio ads. Campaign parties and stump speeches. Forums where very complex questions need to be answered in two minutes or less. And for me, I felt it was important to meet with as many folks at the courthouse as I could. To find out about their jobs, what they do and what they feel is important. I attended as many commissioner meetings as my work schedule would allow. There were events. So many events. Many of them on the same night. All offering food and drink. Parades and community days. City council meetings. And then there was door knocking, sometimes instead of an event, sometimes in combination. What this meant, practically, is over 10,000 miles on the red truck. It meant getting up at 4:30 am to swim or run, and then not dropping into bed before 10:00 pm most nights. Weekends were more packed than weekdays. It meant juggling the time taken to create and eat a good meal versus yet one more thing I could or should be doing. When campaigning, there is always the feeling that it is not quite enough.

2018 was a tough year. I lost a really good friend and rafting buddy to a rapidly progressive brain disease. My mom, who was diagnosed with leukemia right at the time I decided to run for Commissioner, required increasing amounts of my time, homecare and hospice, and finally died with me by her side on September 11. My kids are increasingly busy with their own lives, and connecting with them has to be much more intentional as their time is limited as well. Running many miles to blow off steam and stress was no longer an option as my knees screamed at me in protest. Navigating a relatively new relationship in our 50’s is never an easy endeavor, and the campaign time commitments did not make that any easier.

2018 was a good year. After either being in school or working a summer job to pay for it, Jasper finally had enough time to make it home for a summer river trip. He’s got a great lady in his life that was gusty enough to come and meet me on her own when her work brought her to Idaho. A summer wedding in Montana was close enough for me to slip down to Salmon for a few days and see my grandpup and spend a day on the water with Emerald. My running buddies adapted our route so I could join them. Truer friends could not be found. I’m still in love with my husband. I was elected County Commissioner! A required trip to Boise was extended to allow for reconnecting with old friends, a sweet music night, and enough time on the road to actually get through an entire audio book. My chickens were laying machines, the grapes we planted three years ago finally produced, and we cleared enough understory to plant trees this Spring. The whole family made it to Santa Barbara to spread my mom’s ashes with her sister. The Christmas holidays were quiet. I’ve been working on my sourdough bread recipe. I had my own private Christmas Eve service in our woods with a fire. I finally had enough time and space to cry hard for the loss of my mom. And I slept. Nine hours a night, for many nights in a row.

It is now 2019. I will swear in on January 14, exact time not yet known. I am humbled and honored that you have chosen me for this position. I promise to listen to you, help when I can, and to not be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” In order for me to listen, you must continue to talk to me. To find out what is happening, you can “like” the Latah County Facebook page. You can also get an email subscription to the Commissioner’s agendas and minutes. Looking forward to an exciting 2019.

https://m.facebook.com/LatahCountyID/

https://listmail.latah.id.us/mailman/listinfo/agendanotify

The Campaign Plan

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We are down to the final weeks of the campaign. Everyday I get messages in my mailbox. “You should be at 60% of your fundraising goal!”, “One more week until absentee ballots go out!”, “Do you have your direct and targeted mailing prepared?”  Every week I look at my calendar, I look at all the events that I have already committed to and those that I also should be at. I am also supposed to be door knocking fifty doors a night, eight nights a week to hit that targeted goal. I know there are only 24 hours in a day, and that I cannot possibly do it all. I know that my first outside of family obligation is to my paid work, and I am still trying to exercise regularly and eat. I am human, and I am running for public office.

I am a planner. My daughter is a planner. We come by it honestly and genetically. My mother was a planner, and so was her mother. My mom moved here twenty one years ago and stated that she was going to live her last twenty one years as the eccentric matriarch of this family, I was the one that would care for her in her declining years, and she was going to croak at 84. She died last week, at age 84, with me by her side. Even though I knew it was coming, this was not in my plan for the final days of my campaign. There is a lot to take care of after someone dies. It all takes time. And then there is the grief, which permeates everything and just makes everything that much harder.

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Life doesn’t always go according to plan. My original plan was to live to my golden years with the husband I married in my twenties. Grandkids maybe, but we had so many other things we wanted to do once the nest was empty. Jim died nine years ago and I had to revise my life plan. I married Greg three years ago. Greg is not a planner. So much of his professional life is dictated by deadlines, rules and regulations. Once he has time off, he has lists of things he would like to do, and relates them all to me verbally. And then he will spontaneously decide to do something else. He is getting better at looking at time realistically and prioritizing. I am getting better at throwing my agenda out the window, and changing my mind.

If you had asked me ten years ago, heck one year ago, if running for public office was in my future, I would have thought you crazy. What I did know is that I was rapidly approaching retirement. I needed to do something that would challenge my brain and something that could serve this community that has given me and my family so much. I knew that I wanted to be part of the change I wanted to see in this world. So, when asked ten months ago to run for County Commissioner, I spontaneously decided yes. And then I set out with a plan to make that happen.

I spent the first quarter of the campaign learning how local government works. I went to all of the city council meetings, I watched how they navigated differences. I talked to folks about what they felt their biggest issues were. In the second quarter, I visited all the county departments. I learned what a wonderful cooperative environment there is in Latah County, and how fortunate most people feel to work there. In the third quarter I ramped up the door knocking and attended every city’s community days and parades. The one on one conversations have been invaluable. Now we are in the final days, and I need to prepare for multiple forums. I have to be able to introduce myself and my passions in sixty seconds or less. I need to synthesize all of the complexity of local government into responses of ninety seconds. This is the campaign plan.

My name is Kathie LaFortune. I am running for County Commissioner, District 1. I know I am the better candidate for this position because I have the time, the energy, the intelligence, and the passion for the job. I am also human. I am grieving the loss of my mother who was my rock. I will need your help. I think I have enough money to finish this campaign. I have signs and I need you to ask for them, especially if you have a good highway location to post them. I need to continue hearing about that which is important to you. I need you to show up for forums and to ask good questions. Mostly, I need you to talk to your friends and neighbors, to remind them to vote, and to tell them what you know of me. Now, I need to get get back to today’s plan. Which is continuing to process the bounty of this year’s garden.

Bounty

Bounty