COEUR d'ALENE - Fritz Wiedenhoff sees serving on North Idaho College's Board of Trustees as another way to serve the public, something he's accustomed to as a full-time firefighter with Northern Lakes Fire District.
"I understand public service. I do it every day when I go to work; I never forget that," Wiedenhoff said.
The 41-year-old Rathdrum resident is seeking election to NIC trustee Seat C, now held by Ron Vieselmeyer, who is not running for re-election.
A graduate of NIC himself, and the father of a current Lakeland High School student who is dual-enrolled at NIC, Wiedenhoff said he has a unique perspective of the college and its place in the region.
"I've seen the changes in our community, and I'm excited about the progress. I want to be part of the decision-making at NIC. I know where we were, where we are, and where we want to be," Wiedenhoff said.
He said he's excited about the opportunities NIC provides, not only for students, but for North Idaho, including the college's recently reported economic impact of $165 million.
"It's part of the community in more ways than one. It's an integral part of the community," Wiedenhoff said.
A 32-year resident of Kootenai County, Wiedenhoff has lived in the same house for 19 years. In addition to his Lakeland student, he has two younger children, and said he could see them all going to NIC.
One of his main objectives, if elected, will be seeking out additional funding for NIC. "Personally, I'd like to see the state take a higher role. We need to continue to get our lawmakers to reconsider funding for community colleges," Wiedenhoff said.
Revenue sources must also be sought with consideration for the taxpayers, he said.
Keeping NIC accessible to all, and nimble, are other high priorities for Wiedenhoff.
The college's programs need to remain within reach for all students, he said, whether they're on a vocational or academic path. High school students need to be able to continue getting early college credits through NIC, and older workers must be able to access updated skills training, he said.
The college must also keep up with the changing needs of students and the business community, Wiedenhoff said. The college needs to ensure that student-learning is on par with emerging technologies.
"I see the vo-tech changing constantly. That ties into the auto industry with hybrids, for example," he said.
Wiedenhoff said the college needs to continue developing partnerships with industry, as a means for additional revenue, and in order to stay on top of industrial advances within the college's programs.
If elected, Wiedenhoff said he wants to hear constituent feedback and concerns.
He said he knows he won't be able to make everyone happy, but everyone deserves an opportunity to be heard.
"Education is an investment, and it's an investment for all of us," Wiedenhoff said.