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As Idaho woman regains control of her life, she also regained her right to vote

By D.F. Oliveria The Spokesman-Review

Brandi Irons, of Post Falls, admits she has made some bad choices in life, choices that cost her the right to vote until this week.

Now, she’s 26, a graduate of the Mental Health Court in Kootenai County, a recovery coach for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, and a voter.

At a polling place, Irons noticed that she was the youngest person by far, so much younger that a seasoned citizen thanked her for showing up. “This day seems so empowering to me, and I want to encourage others to use their voices,” Irons said after voting.

Many applauded the courage and determination shown by Irons to turn her life around, including Mental Health Court coordinator Mary Wolfinger, who in a Facebook post welcomed Irons to “our team, paying it forward, helping others.”

Irons has this message for her peers: “I made wrong decisions at a young age and lost my right to vote. Finally, having that right back makes me proud to be a part of something bigger than myself.”

Huckleberries approves of this message.

The Way We Were

On this day 50 years ago, the Coeur d’Alene Press reported the results of a presidential straw poll of North Idaho Junior College students. The Republican Nixon-Agnew ticket was the overwhelming winner with 257 votes. The Democrat ticket of Humphrey-Muskie finished a distant second with 91 votes, not all that much ahead of the American Independent Party ticket of George Wallace and Curtis LeMay. What? You thought Idaho careened to the right side of the red-blue divide as a result of Newt Gingrich’s 1994 Contract with America? … ’Tis the time of the political season when one candidate or another complains about the disappearance of yard signs. But this isn’t a new thing. Way back in October 1892, the weekly Coeur d’Alene Press reported: “We wouldn’t feel as small and contemptible as the person who shrinks around like a contemptible coyote, and tears down the posters announcing public meetings for all the money there is in both political parties. A man is beneath contempt that will do it.” Bingo.


Poet’s Corner: Some vampires now prowling,/ it seems fair to note,/ care less for your blood/ than they do for your vote – Tom Wobker, The Bard of Sherman Avenue (“Very Scary Creatures”) … Coeur d’Alene High instructor Bruce Twitchell ought to compile a book from #stuffmystudentssay Facebook postings. Among the latest: “When I lived in Russia, lotteries were simple. Whoever had the most political influence wins.” And: “My dad and I were in a car following my mom driving. She got pulled over and we just kept going” … Trish Gannon, owner of the River Journal, was surprised by her kitten’s editing revisions Sunday. First, the kitten jumped from her lap to a desk. Suddenly, Gannon says, “my computer screen is minimized to 25 percent. And there’s a tiny message that says, ‘Change language from English to Portuguese.’ ” … Bumpersnicker (on a Kootenai County vehicle spotted by former 1st District Judge Jim Michaud headed west on Interstate 90): “God bless the freaks” … Forget the $1.6 billion lottery that has everyone thinking of life in the Caribbean. Darrell Kerby, the former Bonners Ferry mayor, says he won the lottery on Feb. 12, 1971, when his better half said: “I do.” Summarizes Kerby: “She has been paying off as promised going on 48 years now.” Sounds like both halves got a good deal.

Parting shot

Dan English took note of that Idaho Public TV debate Oct. 17 – you know, the one where GOP lieutenant governor wannabe Janice McGeachin arrived with four security guards. McGeachin debated Democrat Kristin Collum about Medicaid expansion, abortion and gun rights, among other things. But her unusual move to bring a security detail generated buzz, including that from English. Hours before his wife, Democrat Cory English, was to debate Republican state Sen. Mary Souza, of Coeur d’Alene, Dan English said he hadn’t considered security for his wife, adding: “At this late date probably the only one I could bring is our golden retriever. At least, she would severely lick anyone who even slightly looked her way.”

You can contact D.F. “Dave” Oliveria at

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