Diana Lachiondo Visits Morning Edition: 'Words Matter. Truth Matters.'
2021 has to be a better year for Diana Lachiondo. In 2020, she faced a barrage of criticism from a far-right political opponent; she grappled with debates over public health orders while sitting on the Central District Board of Health and she suffered the loss of her father.Things came to a boil on the night of Dec. 8 when an unruly group of protesters came to her home, terrorizing her children while she was attending a Board of Health meeting.
In her first full conversation since leaving the county commission, Lachiondo visited with local Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about calling out lies and liars, a deconstruction of her election loss, the horrific evening of Dec. 8 and her level of optimism for the future.
“Words matter. Truth matters. The behavior and choices of our leaders and the quality and character of those we elect matters.”
Read the full transcript:
GEORGE PRENTICE: It's Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning. I'm George Prentice, Diana, Lachiondo is here, and as you can well imagine, there is plenty to talk about. She recently left her post as ADA County commissioner. And just a few days ago, she wrote what is a must-read Facebook post, thanking her colleagues and reaffirming her commitment to public service and doing the right thing. Diana Lachiondo, Good morning.
DIANA LACHIONDO: Good morning. Thank you for having me.
PRENTICE: I am certain that I'm at least the 100th person to ask you this, but how are you?
LACHIONDO: I'm doing well, thanks. I am really enjoying time with my family. We're getting out, getting some skiing in, and just spending time together, which I think for a lot of people… maybe that's been the blessing in disguise during this pandemic.
PRENTICE: I want to read just a bit of what you wrote on Facebook just several days ago: “This ending is in every way bittersweet as it plays out against the backdrop of terrifying events in our nation's capital with deep roots here at home, a natural culmination of years of rhetoric, name-calling, fear-mongering and yes, lies. Words matter. Truth matters. The behavior and choices of our leaders and the quality and character of those we elect matters.”
This is indeed heady stuff and I think that one of our greatest regrets of the past 12 months, nationally and locally, is not calling out lies and liars. So, I'm going to ask you to talk a little bit about that. Can you speak to those mistruths in the political arena here locally and at the Central District Board of Health?
LACHIONDO: Sure. So, I'll refer to another politician, albeit one who's not of the same party as me. Mitt Romney phrased this well, and I'm not going to get it quite correct. But he said something to the effect of, “We honor our constituents. We show them respect when we tell them the truth, even when it's hard.” And that really struck me because there are lots of hard messages to deliver in public service. There are hard things to grapple with, whether it's the outcome of an election or budget challenges, et cetera. But we don't do ourselves any favors by dancing around it, by promoting half-truths or lies in service of a political outcome, it will eventually come to bite us. I've been thinking about that a lot; and we need more elected leaders and more people in general who are just willing to say, “This is the reality, this is the truth. I may not like it, but now we need to move on.” And I truly tried to operate that way during my time in office on any number of issues.
PRENTICE: Well, let's talk about last election night. First of all, how surprised were you at the results?
LACHIONDO: I was not overly surprised. We knew it was going to be a tough year. I spent a lot of time trying to tell folks it was going to be a tough year. Some people didn't believe me. But the minute we saw that there were 12,000 same-day registrations in Ada County, I knew that it was it was going to be really rough, because we did a lot of work educating people on what the role of an Ada County Commissioner is, and why this position should be about competence and not partisanship. But it's hard to do that education if you don't know who the people are. And so that really is what made it difficult in the end.
PRENTICE: The new GOP majority at the commission:, their first action was to appoint Raul Labrador as Ada County's representative to the Central District Board of Health. And to that, your reaction was what?
LACHIONDO: Oh, a little surprised. It's certainly within their purview to make that appointment. I think there are some questions about some of the meeting concerns. But the other component would be, listen, I don't have a public health background. I was asked to come on from our commission so that we would have oversight from a budgetary perspective because the Ada County Commission gives more than $2 million dollars a year to Central District Health. However, if the commissioner is not willing to take that seat, it probably should be someone with a public health background or health care.
PRENTICE: So, I think you’ve had more than a few major accomplishments in your career of public service when you worked for the City of Boise. Have you had any conversations with anyone at the city about the possibility of returning to work for the city?
LACHIONDO: I have not, and I don't necessarily see that in my future at this point.
PRENTICE: Ok, if you had your druthers, would you prefer to work in the public or private sector?
LACHIONDO: George, I'm trying to give myself and my family some time and space to figure out what's next. I have spent a lot of time talking to you over the years. And, you know, I'm a lady who likes to get things done. I tend to jump into things. But with this moment, we're trying to just take some time. It's been a rough year. My father passed away. Then, there’s a pandemic. My husband is actually both seeing patients in the clinic and admitting patients right now to the hospital because of COVID. So, we need a little bit of time to regroup.
PRENTICE: Tell me if this is none of my business, but because your husband is a health care provider, has he been lucky enough to get a COVID vaccination?
LACHIONDO: He has. So, we're pretty thrilled about that. It definitely feels like we're on the back end of this - even though we know there's so much to do - but from a personal level, from just the family level,
PRENTICE: I have one last uncomfortable question. I'll ask you about the night of December 8th when you learned that there were demonstrators were outside your home. Indeed, there are criminal investigations and some charges have been filed. Will you or anyone you know have to testify in any of that?
LACHIONDO:, I wasn't here, so I did not file a complaint, but I believe several of my neighbors did. You know, I can't speak to that a whole lot more.
PRENTICE: How vivid was that night, and does that still strike you with urgency?
LACHIONDO: Well, I just I think everyone in the country eventually saw me. I was in “mama bear” mode. Honestly, I just felt so helpless and could hear the stress and worry in my son's voice. I felt like I had let him down by not being here, even though I was in the courthouse doing my business. So, it was rough. It was a rough night. But at the same time, subsequent to that, we've just had an outpouring of support from people. And that's been really great to see.
PRENTICE: We're just about a day away from seeing a new president in the White House. I'm going to assume that you are happy he will be there. Where is your level of optimism for the future?
LACHIONDO: You know, I'm always optimistic because I see people doing amazing things on behalf of their neighbors and friends and citizens. At the same time, to circle back to how we started this conversation, we have to find some way to come to common understanding of reality. And I think that's what has me concerned the most right now. It's one thing to disagree about the best approach forward, based on a common set of facts. But if we fundamentally don't agree on the facts, then that's really hard to move forward. We've got to continue grappling with that, continue grappling with misinformation or outright lies as they get spread through social media, etc. or we're not going to be able to move forward as a country.
PRENTICE: Well, we wish you peace. I look forward to many conversations in the future about policy.
LACHIONDO: Thanks, George. In the meantime, you're going to have to consult with me on banana bread recipes, because that's about where I'm at right now.
PRENTICE: She is Diana Lachiondo, private citizen. Thank you.
LACHIONDO: Ok, thank you so much. Take care.
Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren
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