Candidate for 6-Year Position: Colton Bennett

LCLD Trustee Election
May 16, 2023

Question 1. In which Latah County community do you live?

Question 2. What kinds of civic experience qualifies you to be a library trustee?
Perhaps no experience is more civic or more qualifying then self-sacrificial service to one’s country. I have had the distinct honor of serving our country as an Army Combat Medic and Seargent. During my military service I was called on to work in a number of highly demanding roles. I served in the front lines of the US effort to combat the spread of Covid during the pandemic and was awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal for my efforts. I ultimately contracted the virus while treating one of my patients. I also deployed overseas to eastern Europe during the height of the war in Ukraine as part of an effort to protect European borders and help Ukrainian refugees. Each of these events helped shape me as a leader and instilled in me the importance of sacrifice and service. I am very excited to put these values to work for each of you as your next Library Trustee.

Question 3. What are the most important issues facing public libraries today?
I believe the answer to this is a loss of trust. As I travel our county and speak with prospective voters, I hear recurring themes in their concerns: They have lost trust in our library system. Many are concerned about the caliber and quality of our literature, how we are modeling literacy for our posterity, or wonder how we are going to keep up with the technological demands of this decade. As a Latah County library trustee I will work tirelessly to regain your trust. With your vote I will uphold trust and seek to address these challenges with courage, integrity, and propriety.

Question 4. What is intellectual freedom and why is it important to all segments of society?
Perhaps one of the best ways to understand what intellectual freedom is would be to understand what it is not! While I was serving overseas, as an Army Medic in the Ukrainian border country of Poland, I saw first hand the effects of tyrants who had attacked intellectual freedom. I saw stone heaps where the Nazi’s had torn down statues. I saw European skylines tainted with the utilitarian architecture of a Soviet worldview. I saw gas chambers, where Jewish people left the marks of their finger-nails embedded in concrete as they were gassed for who they worshiped as God. These experiences have branded on my conscience the importance of having a free society, one that allows the free exchange of ideas. If elected I will work to promote an intellectually free library, free of propaganda and robust in truth.

Question 5. What is a public library’s role in promoting equity and inclusion in the community?
In what is perhaps some of the most breathtaking words ever written, the Declaration of Independence declares that “all men are created equal [and] endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. [T]o secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…”. A library, like any other institution of government with taxing authority, has the duty to uphold these ideals. As a Soldier serving our country overseas I proudly served side by side with men and women from a plethora of creeds, colors, religions, and orientations. Each of us had taken an oath to uphold American principles of equality and unalienable rights. By continuing to live up to my oath and safeguarding these principles of equality I will uphold inclusion and by protecting the right of men and women to practice the pursuit of happiness I will enable each person to pursue the equity they desire.

Question 6. List your top three goals if elected to a trustee position.
1. Promote truth and learning. I consider our libraries as foundational to our community education and learning and I will use this platform to foster both truth and learning. 2. Manage taxpayer money with the utmost regard. Every penny of the 1.7 million dollars our library board manages is taxpayer money regardless of its source. If elected I will always handle this money with the utmost regard for the taxpayer and never collect more than we ought. 3. Storytelling is magical. I want our libraries to be a place where good stories are told and repeated, where authors are inspired, and young minds are shaped. If elected I will work to raise the respect and desire for excellent literature.