Category: politics

Brandon Woolf - Idaho State Controller. Idaho’s long tenured but now retired Secretary of State, Ben Ysursa, advised early in my service as State Controller to always err on the side of the citizens and our constitution.  

I’ve interpreted his advice to be both a reminder and a challenge – the reminder being that government exists solely to serve the people, and the challenge being to ingrain this belief in the fabric of government operations.  I’ve taken Ben’s sage advice to heart and used it to help shape my office’s culture of customer service by eliminating bureaucratic impediments to public information like state employee salary information and improving the transparency of Idaho’s fiscal operations.  As a mentor, Ben has also helped me understand that elected officials have a mandate far more powerful than any constitutional or statutory provisions, and that is to earn the people’s trust.  

Elizabeth Criner - Managing Partner, Veritas Advisors. Never pretend to know more than you do because there will always be someone else in the room who knows more than you. 

Emily Baker - Managing Partner, Gallatin Public Affairs. I’ve been lucky enough to learn from incredible leaders who were generous with their time and wisdom. Learning from a legend like Haley Barbour gave me insight on how to approach policy and politics that I would have been fortunate to accumulate in a lifetime. 

Like Haley, the best mentors teach by showing us, by demonstrating time and again the very traits needed for success. While formalized mentoring relationships are valuable, so are mentors who teach us by simply being themselves and allowing us glimpses of what it is to lead, to serve, to be respected and trusted. One of those who mentored many in Idaho politics passed away this week, but she leaves behind a legacy of people who are better off having known and learned from her.

Sara Braasch Schmidt was a true servant leader. Beloved by all who knew her, she was smart and effective, quick with a smile and a laugh. Sara’s genuine warmth and welcoming nature was cherished by many, including myself. New to Idaho politics, I looked up to Sara, but far more essential than learning from her work and achievements was witnessing the importance being generous with kindness and time. Her grace and light will be missed, but will carry on in all who learned from her.

Dr. Justin Vaughn - Professor at School of Public Service, Boise State University. The two best pieces of advice I ever received came from my mentor and dissertation adviser. First, he said, "The burden of communication is always on you." Second, and perhaps infinitely more valuable: "Never be held hostage to the tastes and budgets of others." A demanding man, to be sure, but rules to live by nonetheless!