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Boise Elected Liberal 18-Year-Old To School Board, And It 'Costed' Wingnuts Their Miiiiiinds
We don't usually mock people's illiteracy, but it is a goddamn school board race.
Voters in Boise, Idaho, did something pretty dang awesome last week: For the first time ever, they elected a high school student to the Boise School Board. Five incumbents on the board of trustees were up for reelection; four of them won, but incumbent Steve Schmidt was defeated in his bid for a two-year term by 18-year-old Shiva Rajbhandari, a senior at Boise High School.
Rajbhandari, a third-generation Idahoan whose dad is originally from Nepal, is one of those cool activist kids who started getting all political at an early age, organizing around issues like gun control, voting rights, the environment, and especially climate change. In fact, he told the Intercept, he decided to run last year after not hearing back from the school board after his efforts to push the school district to adopt a clean energy policy kept hitting roadblocks:
Two years ago, he said, a group of high school and junior high students tried everything they could think of to urge the board to make a commitment to renewable energy. “We sent emails; we did a postcard drive and wrote like 300 postcards; we met with our local power company; we had a petition, we delivered the largest petition ever to our school district,” Rajbhandari said, but the board never responded. “Last year, I wrote a letter to our school board president, just asking for a meeting … and I never got anything back. But I know that he read my letter because about a week later, I was called to the principal’s office.”
This is where we all smile and maybe tear up a little as we urge him to keep getting in what John Lewis called "good trouble."
Rajbhandari said that since the board didn't seem to see students as constituents, he'd just have to try to change that by getting elected.
“That’s not to say that my run for the board comes from a place of animosity,” he added, “but it comes from a place of need, which is that we don’t have student representation on the Boise Schools board, and our board members aren’t boots-on-the-ground in the classroom.”
Dude has a hell of a topic for his What I Did On My Summer Vacation essay: He ran for school board, and won. He also voted in early voting on August 30, the day he turned 18, along with a group of classmates.
Well there we go grinning like a fool again. Rajbhandari and the four incumbents who won reelection were sworn in Monday, and we love that he showed up in a tie and sneakers.
A few weeks before the election , Schmidt, the incumbent, received the endorsement of the "Idaho Liberty Dogs," a local far-Right extremist group that earlier this summer tried to pressure the Meridian Public Library Board to eliminate all the pornography the group was absolutely certain was being distributed to kids. That effort failed entertainingly, as the would-be library censors were vastly outnumbered by library supporters at an August board meeting.
Schmidt, who hadn't sought the Sad Puppies' endorsement, very tepidly distanced himself from the endorsement, writing in a now-hidden Facebook post, "Depending upon your personal beliefs, that [endorsement] may give you cause for concern or comfort,“ and saying only "I am not a member of their group and I don’t represent them." That was hardly the rebuke of extremism needed — the Dipshit Dogs regularly accuse LGBTQ people and supporters of "grooming" children simply by existing — so the Idaho Statesman editorial board, which had been leaning toward Schmidt, gave its endorsement to Rajbhandari instead. The endorsement explained,
That is the type of endorsement a candidate has to disavow forcefully to demonstrate that they can stand up for what is right. Schmidt’s failure to do so tipped the scales. We have no fear that Rajbhandari would make a similar mistake.
In addition to endorsing Schmidt, the Slobbery Poodles also attacked Rajbhandari on Facebook — on his birthday, no less — calling him a "liberal activist" who was endorsed by a local "radical leftist" who is very much not a radical. The Rabid Dogs said "Shiva is not an adult and thinks he knows best for your children," although the post was later updated to note that he was indeed 18. And oh, the whining!
He has openly supported and lead groups who are Pro Abortion, Pro Masks/Vaccines, Pro BLM and Antifa. Shiva is known for disrupting Capitol meetings, disrupted prayers events, illegally blocked roads with other under aged high-school students and spilled paint onto the streets of Boise, which created traffic jams and costed tax payers money to clean up.
Is this who you want leading and making decisions for your children!?
Well sure, he sounds pretty cool, honestly. Apparently that "disrupting Capitol meetings" bit refers to his testimony — during public comments — against the cockamamie task force to "Examine Indoctrination in Idaho Education" that was set up by Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, which found no actual indoctrination but bankrupted her office with legal bills when McGeachin refused to comply with public records requests from journalists. Just look at this dangerous radical, disrupting his own allotted time to speak:
How mean of him to accuse McGeachin of setting up the "investigation" as a campaign stunt, and to reject out of hand the idea that schools are indoctrinating anyone. What's more, he said, Idaho schools don't teach enough real history, like the Tulsa Race Massacre or even the 1887 Hell's Canyon Massacre right here in Idaho, during which as many as 34 Chinese gold miners were lynched by a gang of white horse thieves.
It seems the Paw Patrol has been on Rajbhandari's radar for a while now, too, as he explained to the Intercept. Beyond the library censorship attempt, he said,
"Last year, there was a kid who brought a gun to Boise High, which is my school, and he got suspended and they organized an armed protest outside our school.”
Rajbhandari, who started leading Extinction Rebellion climate protests in Boise when he was 15 , is familiar with the group’s tactics. “We used to have climate strikes, like back in ninth grade, and they would come with AR-15s,” he said, bringing rifles to intimidate “a bunch of kids protesting for a livable future.”
He's also no fan of the ubiquitous rightwing astroturf group the Idaho Freedom Foundation — a big backer of McGeachin — which led protests against public health measures during the pandemic, and has been a leader in Idaho wingnuts' war on schools and libraries.
Congratulations, Boise! You put a real future leader on the school board, and we wish him all the best. Since he'll graduate next spring, Rajbhandari hopes to find a way to have another high schooler serve out the rest of his term; if that's not possible, he says he'll take a gap year before college so he can finish the two-year term.
Heck, we may have to go to some school board meetings now.
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