Steve Judy’s story seems the all-American dream.
He grew up on a ranch near Emmett, Idaho, working as a “ranch assistant,” according to his resume.
The 28-year-old Coeur d’Alene resident met his wife, Michelle, in the eighth grade and they married in college. They attended Gonzaga University together and were residence hall directors for 150 freshmen.
Along the way, he polished his golf game - no doubt partly because his college job was as a salesman for Nevada Bob’s Discount Golf Retail Store in Spokane. He and his wife still enjoy golfing together - when they have time.
After earning degrees in political science and history, Judy came to Coeur d’Alene and began working for U.S. Sen. Larry Craig. Two years later, he joined U.S. Sen. Dirk Kempthorne’s staff and spent most of three years as Kempthorne’s natural resource field representative.
Along the way, Judy coached high school basketball - an experience that taught him to take heat from the public.
In 1996, Judy became executive director for Concerned Businesses of North Idaho. Last summer, he went to work as human resources director for North Idaho Immediate Care.
His time at Concerned Businesses gave him insight into city government, he said in a recent interview. He spent more than 100 hours reviewing the city budget, for example.
He became acquainted at City Hall and familiar with the people making the day-to-day operation work.
That experience also has brought Judy a bit of grief. He is unfairly portrayed as Concerned Businesses’ handpicked candidate, friends and family say, although he has garnered thousands of dollars in campaigning contributions from members of the business lobby.
“Him being portrayed as a front for business is silly,” Michelle Judy says. “He is a great person who cares about everybody.
“It’s not what he can gain from the experience, but what he can give to it.”
Physician Jack Riggs, who now employees Judy, agrees. While Judy may agree with some of Concerned Businesses philosophies, “Concerned Businesses is not the main, core person of Steve Judy,” Riggs said.
There’s nothing wrong with the organization, but “I would not support him if I thought he was a Concerned Businesses appointee to that position,” Riggs added.
Judy spent the bulk of his professional career helping people for Idaho’s senators and that is his mission, Riggs said.
Judy also is adamant that he will be fair. “I am not going to treat any person differently.”
To his friends and family, Judy is inexhaustible, honest and dedicated.
“I think that’s why I was interested in having him in my office,” Riggs said. “He’s the type of person who likes to get things done.”
“He sets high standards for himself and holds himself to those standards,” Riggs added. “He has a good, balanced approach with his family and what he does professionally.”
When he’s not working, or campaigning, Judy is attending to his family life. And it’s a busy life.
They are up at 5 a.m. with their sons, ages 1 and 4, and out of the house to their jobs by 7 a.m.
Michelle Judy teaches at Lakes Middle School and coaches volleyball and girls’ basketball at Lake City High. He attends her games when he can and the Judys are active in St. Pius X Church. They camp together, swim together and join in as many community activities as possible.
Judy helped start “Paint with Care,” which uses volunteers to paint homes for senior citizens and low-income residents. The all-volunteer group, chaired by Judy, has painted more than 50 homes in the past few years.
He is chairman of the Best Hill Meadows Homeowners Association and chairman of the Region 1 Idaho Republican Party.
When Judy talks about the mayor’s office, he talks about leadership. “I will bring the mayor’s office back to the community,” he said.
“There seems to be a disconnect in communication. There are people telling me that other people are speeding through their neighborhood and they can’t get any response.”
His prime example is Sanders Beach, for years an unresolved issue that pits the public that uses the strip of sand against some of the residents along East Lakeshore Drive who own the land.
“Let’s just get this resolved,” Judy said, adding that money to buy the beach can be found. A public-private partnership should be investigated, he said.
Like his opponent, incumbent Al Hassell, Judy believes McEuen Field and Memorial Field should stay in community hands. But their future ought to receive careful consideration.
“I would like to see more use as a whole,” Judy said.
Judy and Hassell support downtown revitalization. Hassell said the merchants will have to take the results of a pending consultant’s report and run with them.
Judy said there needs to be more. “There needs to be leadership from the city that will bring people downtown and encourage business.”
But, finally, Judy wants Coeur d’Alene to have an aggressive, well-known vision. As an example, he points to the soon-to-be reconstructed Ramsey Road interchange.
“That needs to be an entrance where people say, ‘Wow, I entered Coeur d’Alene.”’
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
MEMO: See related story under the headline: Civility marks mayor’s race/ Quiet Hassell lets track record, not advertising, do the talking