The most offbeat item I've seen so far in the latest batch of campaign finance reports is this: A $109.99 payment to Ace Septic Tank Service in Sagle, filed under the category for campaign event-related expenses. Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, laughed when I asked him about the entry in his report. “Maybe I'm the first one to ever have to rent a Porta-Potty for my campaign,” he said. “Does that say anything about me? Probably nothing good.”
The event in question was Gov. Butch Otter's “Capitol for a Day” at Nordman last month, which was held outside the Priest Lake Lodge on the shores of Priest Lake. “We had 350 people there, and there's no way that Nordman's sewer would've probably handled that at one time. You've only got one facility for men and one for women,” Anderson said. His campaign was among the event's sponsors; in addition to renting two portable toilets, he bought 300 pounds of beef for the barbecue and purchased hundreds of dollars worth of potato salad, beans and fixings. Others helped out, too, doing the cooking and serving; the Lion's Club set up the tents. “All the resorts pitched in - they all brought tables and chairs,” Anderson said. The crowd included “pretty much everybody from the lake, on a Wednesday in September.”
Asked if it was his biggest campaign event of the year, Anderson said, “By far - it was by far the biggest campaign event for my whole life. And the funnest I've ever had.” Otter's “Capitol for a Day” events allow folks in small towns to ask questions of the governor and top state agency officials; Lt. Gov. Brad Little and state schools Superintendent Tom Luna were among those attending. “There wasn't a question left unasked,” Anderson said.
The hottest topic of the day: Salt on the roads. “People have been noticing their cars are getting rusty now the last two or three years much more than they ever have in the past,” Anderson said. “That was a big topic.” Other hot topics included state-owned cabin sites; caribou habitat; wolves; Fish and Game; kokanee recovery; and the school reform referenda measures. Said Anderson, “It was just so great for everybody to be out and about. It was a really nice day.”