Conference Aimed At Improving Civility In Idaho Ends With Creation Of Action Plan

Aug 3, 2016

Participants spent three days discussing the state of civility in Idaho politics and ways to improve it. The event was co-sponsored by Boise State's School of Public Service and the City Club of Boise.
Credit Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Public officials, civic leaders and members of the Idaho media wrapped up a three-day conference in Boise Tuesday. Their focus: to figure out ways to make political discourse in the state more civil.

The event was co-sponsored by the City Club of Boise and Boise State University’s School of Public Service, and facilitated by members of the National Institute for Civil Discourse. It was part of the City Club’s year-long project aimed at improving civility in the state.

Some of the public officials who attended included lawmakers who underwent civility training at the Capitol early this year. Senator Chuck Winder, R-Boise, was among this week’s participants. He left the conference optimistic and says he wants to help keep discourse here from reaching levels of incivility seen elsewhere.  

“We just don’t want those to get to our level,” Winder says. “We don’t want them to be in Idaho. We want the citizens of Idaho to be able to participate and communicate with their election officials at all levels.”

Winder and others fear incivility in public discourse keeps some Idahoans who otherwise would participate in the political process, on the sidelines.

By the end of the event, attendees had agreed to focus on three action items going forward: adding civility training curriculum in schools, developing a civility pledge, and creating City Club groups in other cities to help foster similar conversations.  

Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer, NICD’s executive director, credited the group with developing plans that deal with improving civility in the both short and long term.

“We have really come to a place of such degraded discourse in our politics, it is going to take us a significant length of time to turn this back around,” she says.  

Editor’s note: Scott Graf was among the participants representing Idaho media. Boise State Public Radio General Manager Tom Michael also attended the conference.

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