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Will the next Shawn Keough please step forward?

Oh, right. There won’t ever be another Shawn Keough. But maybe North Idaho can find more folks like her.

The longest serving female Idaho senator just finished her final session in the Legislature — 22 of ’em, for those who are counting. Technically, the stalwart from Sandpoint is still on duty until Nov. 30, but the arduous travel and frenetic daily activity at the Capitol are easing. When Keough announced last July that 2018 would be the end of her legislative line, The Press published a heartfelt editorial honoring her. That feeling continues today, but the message now shifts from this intelligent, hard-working and compassionate Republican to what lies ahead.

And that, good voters, is going to be determined by you.

Will you choose citizen legislators whose focus is on religious or federal matters that have no place in these clearly defined state elected roles? That is not to say that religion and federal issues aren’t important; they most certainly are, but they fall outside the dominion of state legislators’ responsibilities. Sometimes singing from the same sheet of music as your brethren in church or your coffee klatch of fellow anti-federalists does translate into political capital, but it’s posturing at best. It does nothing to move Idaho toward a brighter future that includes more good jobs, outstanding education and technical training, safe communities, efficient transportation and a continued idyllic place to raise families.

Sen. Keough didn’t waste her time or yours by tilting at perceived windmills of moral corruption or phantom invaders. Fear, fire and fury are the desperate weapons of others who fill some of the seats occupied by North Idaho rear ends; but not hers. Sen. Keough rolled up her sleeves and, with a big smile and a can-do attitude, did her best to ensure that Idaho spent its money wisely and served its people effectively. That is what responsible custodians of the public trust do. They do not bake their bitterness and paranoia into public policy.

Primary elections are just a month away. The Press has been devoting more resources than ever to county and state races, and will continue to do so. A special election guide will be delivered to all Press subscribers on May 1.

Please, vote for the candidates who have the most in common with Shawn Keough. Reject the messengers of fear and anger, of isolation and confrontation.

Help bring Idaho together. Your children and grandchildren will thank you for caring so much.

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