Our View: Idaho politicians should emulate Evans


July 9, 2014 

We hope the shadow of former Gov. John V. Evans' legacy mirrors that of his long life, and that his example of civility continues to rub off on generations of Idaho politicians.

We need more people who know how to get along with others at the Statehouse, calmly work through differences and aren't afraid to err on the side of saying less and doing more.

Of course it is expected that Idaho icons from both parties make statements about the death of a Democratic pillar such as Evans, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 89.

But there is a common theme of bipartisan respect for the person of John Evans as much as the politician.

Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho - not one to mince words - is a prime example.

"John Evans was one of the most civil and gentle people I dealt with in the political process over the years," Risch said in a statement. "He was a committed Idahoan who deeply loved his state. Being in the banking business (D. L. Evans), he had a clear understanding of free markets and their importance in a free society. His leadership was greatly respected."

The environment Evans faced during his tenure as governor (1977-87) included negotiating with Republican leadership such as Risch and Tom Stivers - who were serving, respectively, as president pro tem of the Senate and speaker of the House.

Evans led Idaho through some very tough economic times, convincing Martin Peterson, state budget director at the time, to conclude Evans was "highly underrated" as a governor.

"John Evans proved to be a strong and effective governor during some of Idaho's most difficult times in the 1980s," said Peterson, who is a community member on the Idaho Statesman Editorial Board. "John wasn't a razzle-dazzle type guy ... but a steady and patient man who was governor during the most serious financial crisis, to that date, since the Great Depression."

Evans - an old rancher, banker, former mayor, Idaho legislator and lieutenant governor - didn't rattle much and had a way for reaching a compromise and making progress.

That's because Evans operated in the political world much the same way he operated in the business world.

He understood the old traditional values of small town personal banking and doing business.

Such traits could be more often emulated today in Boise at the Capitol and Idaho would be the better for it.

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