STORY AND PHOTO OF KAREN BOSSICK
Ron Taylor spoke about the thoughts of popular comic book hero Chickenman over the past six months.
” He is everywhere. He’s everywhere,” chuckled the radio series from the late 1960s.
Taylor was there Thursday at The Advocates’ community discussion on domestic violence. He attended a presentation about the Wood River Wolf project on Tuesday and a Blaine County Housing Authority meeting on Wednesday. And he hasn’t missed a Business After Hours since they resumed in early summer.
It’s part of learning about people’s concerns as he runs for the District 26 Senate seat vacated by Senator Michelle Stennett, who elected to retire at the end of the year. The election is November 8.
“After my own retirement from firefighting, I was bored and found that I didn’t like the way national or Idaho politics was going. I decided that instead of staying home yelling at the TV, I could make a difference,” he said.
Upon learning of his interest, Stennett asked Taylor to observe him at the state house. He met many senators there and sat in caucus. And then he got to work studying the issues by challenging Jerome’s Laurie Lickley for the seat.
“Discussing with people, I found that many people are unhappy with the loss of women’s rights. They want choice when it comes to women’s reproductive rights. Idaho has an incredibly restrictive abortion bill, and many lawmakers want to remove all exemptions and even the right to birth control. I find it disconcerting for a state that doesn’t want government in people’s lives,” he said.
Taylor has found that those he has spoken to are very concerned about the loss of public land. It is heartbreaking that Idaho is among the least educated states with less than 81% of students graduating from high school and only 44% going to college. He thinks Idaho needs to pay teachers more than the current median salary of $53,000 to keep them.
And he is concerned about water.
“We lead the nation per capita in water use. Eighty percent of our water is used for agriculture and 20 percent is for residential use. We can use 13,000 gallons per day to water half an acre is a drop in the ocean. But this is a high mountain wilderness and we need to find ways to encourage people to conserve. Idaho needs of water for his leisure activities: skiing, rafting, fishing… If we don’t manage it properly, we will lose our tourism.
Taylor treasures outdoor gear, having grown up in Holladay, Utah, at the bottom of the Wasatch Front, 10 minutes south of the University of Utah.
He followed a high school flame to Sun Valley where he worked the night shift in the Duchin Hall, as a sous chef in the Lodge, as a line cook in the old Ore House and in the bakery with the late Jack Flaherty .
He also hung more Christmas lights than he could count, spending eight hours a day before each Christmas on a ladder or lift.
Eventually he went to work as a firefighter for the Ketchum Fire Department where the cooking skills he learned at Sun Valley were undoubtedly invaluable around the firehouse table. He lived at Greenhorn Fire Station for three years before moving to Wood River Fire and Rescue Service where he worked for 22 years until retiring last year. His missions included chasing former Vice President Dick Cheney, who had heart problems, in an ambulance when Cheney came to the Valley for a fundraiser.
“I worked on the Ro, Castle Rock and Beaver Creek fires. I would say my most memorable call was rescuing a friend from the hood of her car after she got stuck in flood waters near the West Magic Reservoir.
Taylor met his wife Alex while volunteering at the crisis helpline.
“It’s fun to tell people I met her through the crisis hotline – they always ask, ‘Who had the crisis?’ ” he said.
A longtime Mountain Humane volunteer, Taylor and Alex recently adopted a chihuahua-terrier mix they named Georgy Girl after spotting her at a Cupcakes for Karma rally hosted by Karma Metzler Fitzgerald, who is showing up for a seat in the House.
Taylor is aware that Democrats have long been a minority in the Idaho legislature, and he was surprised at the unwillingness of some people to engage in a speech.
At the same time, he was pleasantly surprised by the support people showed him by honking their horns and shouting “Ron!” as they move on to leave a note on his windshield that simply says, “Thank you.”
“But I’m open to sitting down and talking to anybody and listening to what they have to say,” he said. “Because we’ve had such a turnover in the legislature this year, it’s an opportunity for a whole group of new people to come together, build relationships and be positive when it comes to moving things forward. things for the people of Idaho.”
To prepare for the future, Taylor would also like to see schoolchildren engage in civil discourse.
“They should have the ability to look at something more than one side, study something and learn from it before moving on.”