Candidate profile: NIC trustee, Paul Matthews

Birth date: 1/10/62

Profession: Architect

Educational background:  B. Arch. & BS. Ball State University

Public service (elected or appointed offices): past Chair of the Kootenai County Planning and Zoning Commission, Past Chair of the Kootenai County Historic Preservation Commission, past Chair of the Kootenai County Capital Improvement Plan Advisory Board, past Chair of the Rathdrum Building Codes Review Board, past President of the Rathdrum Area Chamber of Commerce. I have also served on the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee as an elected Republican Precinct Committeeman since 2004.

How many years as a resident of your city:  I have lived in Kootenai County for 22 years.

Marital status:  Married, Shelly Matthews, 26 years

Family: Forrest 20, Parker 18 (both attended NIC)

Hobbies:  Reading, writing, tennis

Why are you running for office?

I want to bring a conservative approach to the NIC Board.  I believe I have the skill-set for that task: an architectural (sciences and humanities) education, project management experience, and the public service training that will be required to serve the taxpayers of Kootenai County and the students of North Idaho College in addressing the problems that face the college.  

 2. What do you see as the three biggest issues you'll face?

Fiscal Responsibility: NIC spends approximately $65,000 for every 2-year degree granted.  By comparison, the University of Idaho spends about $74,000 for every 4-year degree it grants.  With our county's limited tax-base, these elevated levels are unsustainable.  The runaway spending must be reined in.

Mission Creep: The NIC Strategic Plan does not correspond to the Capital Improvement Plan and neither is reflected in recent spending priorities.  As Yogi Berra said, “If you don't know where you are going, you'll probably end up somewhere else.”  As NIC has tried to be everything to everyone, it has failed to meet the most pressing needs of its students and the business community.  This mission confusion must be cleared up.

Transparency & Accountability: All the incumbent NIC trustees live and work within a five-mile radius of a point near Coeur d'Alene.  This has given rise to the nagging suspicion that the Board has become an “old boy network.”  The US Chamber of Commerce graded NIC “F” for transparency and accountability in its 2012 Leaders and Laggards analysis of institutions of higher learning in Idaho. (It was rated a “zero” on a scale of 0 to 5.)  The perception must be changed.

3.  If elected, what steps will you take to resolve these issues?

Fiscal Responsibility: I will build budgets by accepting the hard realities of a limited tax base and a constrained public mandate, and set spending in line with those constraints; rather than continuing the present method of allowing competing visions to vie against each other at staff level and then determining after the fact how much it will take to fund the winners.

Mission Creep: I will align the Capital Improvement Plan with the Strategic Mission Plan and then follow their new, shared recommendations to the letter — without veering off to shoe-horn in “once in a lifetime” spending opportunities, no matter how alluring they might be.

Transparency & Accountability: With my northwest county background and conservative perspective I will bring diversity to a Board that is, as a matter of geographical fact, quite insular.  I will also move to reconsider Policy 2.01.05 which constitutes an ill-advised, self-imposed gag-order upon the Trustees' ability to communicate with their “bosses” - the People!  

4.  What specific skills or experience qualify you for this job?

I have extensive project management skills, having served as project architect on over 250 buildings representing several hundred million dollars in construction value; and yet, I understand from a small businessman's perspective the frustrations arising from excessive taxation and an inadequately trained workforce.  I also have considerable experience setting policy for both public and private boards, including a school board.

5.       Why should voters elect you, rather than an opponent?  

My incumbent opponent has been in office for nearly 20 years. In that time she has responded with depressing regularity to every new challenge by trying to spend it away.  In her last term alone, she led the Board in more than doubling the tax levy rate!  By contrast, I know that every tax rise is a pay cut for some struggling family.



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