North Idaho's link to the governor

Katie Brodie here to answer questions, listen to the people

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Katie Brodie is the Northern Idaho special assistant to Gov. Butch Otter.

Let's say you're worried about the state budget. Or taxes. Or education reform.

For all this, and so much, much more, Katie Brodie is there to listen.

"We get people with economic development concerns to liquor control concerns. It runs the gamut of everything the governor could be involved with," Brodie said. "My job is to make sure the governor is aware of what's going on in these areas, things of value and things of interest to the citizens."

The former Kootenai County commissioner has clocked two and a half years in her latest position as Northern Idaho Special Assistant to Gov. Butch Otter.

Her role isn't so much to be the official's right-hand gal, she said, but the link between him and the good people of Idaho.

"I'm the conduit," she said.

It's been busy.

"Two days are never the same," the 64-year-old said. "It depends on what the hot button issues are for each area. And they're all different."

Her world is the 10 northern counties.

Knowing inside and out every community issue and debacle, all the local concerns about state and national efforts.

She meets with agencies. She meets with community boards. She meets with individuals.

And she listens to whatever they have to say.

"You have to like meetings," Brodie said with a laugh.

Everything she gleans is passed on to the governor, who, she reminded, can't be everywhere at once.

Then it's his problem.

"I'm making sure our staff and our governor know what the issues are, so he's on top of it," she said.

Brodie's position, which has hours stretching around weekend and night meetings, also makes her the local source of information on state issues.

Ask her to clarify something, or for the governor's position on it, and she has a ready answer.

Lately, it's all been EPA, EPA, EPA, she said.

"That's the biggest. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and their involvement in the Silver Valley," she said.

In Kootenai County, queries surround the Total Maximum Daily Load requirements for the Spokane River, she said.

There is also constant interest in the legislative session, she said, adding that she has to keep up to snuff on the key legislation of the day.

"Like education reform. I field a lot of questions about what's going on, what are the changes," she said. "It's tough to keep abreast of, because that changes on an hourly basis."

Brodie is also often behind the podium speaking on the governor's behalf at meetings and events. When Otter himself is in the area - like his upcoming tour of five northern counties for Lincoln Day events in March - she makes all the preparations and remains by his side.

Being in such close proximity to the big guy isn't nerve wracking for Brodie, whose position was appointed by the governor and ends when he leaves office.

"I've known Gov. Otter for years. I worked on his campaign," she explained.

Her term as Kootenai County commissioner from 2004 to 2006 was a perfect prerequisite for her current position, she added.

"So much of it is the same, the constituency services," she said. "Trying to be there for citizens who are concerned, who have questions, and help problem solve."

Brodie has proven an important player within the governor's office, said Jon Hanian, spokesperson for the governor.

"She's got her finger on the pulse," he said. "She brings a lot of assets to the job of essentially being the governor's eyes and ears."

Having assistants embedded in regions of Idaho is essential to keeping the governor in tune with constituents' needs, Hanian added.

"We feel it is an integral part of our first line of response," he said. "We need to be there to hear their (citizens') concerns and issues and problems."

Brodie, a longtime Hayden resident originally from Palo Alto, Calif., said she doesn't hear many complaints about the governor.

Mostly there's relief that our state is better off than many others, as far as clawing out of debt.

"I've heard a lot of repetitions of, 'Thank God we saved as much money as we did,'" she said.

Brodie initially worked as a Realtor after studying for two years at North Idaho College, she said. She also spent several years with Jobs Plus, and then with Idaho Forest Industries.

This is her last gig before retirement, she said.

"I think I've met most of my career goals," she said, adding that she plans on spending more time with her husband, Pete Hohman, and their three children and six grandchildren. "This is a good cap to that."

In the meantime, her door is open to anyone.

Folks can contact her at 446-4983, or katie.brodie@gov.idaho.gov.

Remember, she said. She's there to listen.

"It's easier for someone to call locally than call Boise," she said.

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