There's a groundswell of excitement over the election of Dan Gookin and Steve Adams to the Coeur d'Alene City Council, and there should be. Whether or not the existing council is actually guilty of routinely applying the rubber stamp to important decisions, the entry of Dan and Steve to future deliberations promises to be entertaining and engaging.
But we admit to feeling a sense of loss in the defeat of John Bruning, and not just because newspapering is in his family's blood. John's father, Rollie, became editor of the Coeur d'Alene Press in 1956, when John and the rest of the family moved to Coeur d'Alene from Wallace.
This quiet, thoughtful man who enjoyed a 40-year career with the U.S. Forest Service has sunk some of the deepest roots in his community. John holds volunteer leadership positions with St. Vincent de Paul and served on the St. Pius X Catholic Church parish council for six years. He has taken his civic duties even further.
Bruning learned about Coeur d'Alene from the inside out by serving on the city's Planning and Zoning Commission for a quarter of a century, with all but five years as its chairman. All of this is a matter of public record, but it took a close friend of John's to tell us that he got hold of Bruning's appointment book and discovered the city councilman and community servant participates in some 50 public meetings a month.
Bruning's level of community involvement isn't just exemplary; it might be unmatched. And we believe that for all our city governments, Bruning's example should be followed.
In Coeur d'Alene, 24 committees require a total of 160 volunteers. We understand the fad in some political circles these days is for candidates to have no governmental experience at all because it is considered baggage that will compromise the candidates. That's an unhealthy degree of skepticism that can lead to ill-informed votes and ill-equipped elected officials.
Learning to serve benefits the organization, the community and the person who is serving. The volunteer understands why things work the way they do, who makes them work that way and what impact various efforts create. If nothing else, this person will have a much shorter learning curve when assuming duty as an elected official, and ultimately, effective service is the name of the game.