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Russ Tempel: Election Year Thoughts & Happy Valentine’s Day

It is 2020, a leap year. Happy birthday to those with birthdays on February 29.

Also, in case you’ve been hiding somewhere without communications, it is also an election year. Everyone running for office wants endorsements and much-needed contributions.

Having run for office four times in the last 20 years, I remember this phase of elections. There are candidates I respect and support, as I am sure most of you do, too. The question is, how invested and involved do we want to be? As I look around and visit with folks, I see every level from over-zealous to not wanting anything to do with the chaos. We have a great democratic system that allows for this. All I can say is, do what you are comfortable with and support the candidate you believe in.

Back to 2020.

This year is a big year for me and Judy. In 1970, I asked a young gal to marry me. She said yes, not having a clue where it was headed. Fifty years later, here we are.

We started celebrating this past month with a trip we talked about when we retired: a trip through the Panama Canal. For three years, we put it on hold due to my Senate appointment, election, and sessions. Long story short, we took a cruise from Los Angeles to Miami with six stops along the way.

Being on the Senate Education Committee, I was interested in the school systems we encountered on the trip.

On our stops, I asked locals about their culture of learning. Initially, I was surprised by the fact that schools are optional. There are also state-funded schools. In some areas, I saw large numbers of students on their way to school wearing uniforms. These schools, and many others, are sponsored by the Catholic Church, which seems to have a vast education system in the countries we visited. Wages for an English tutor are less than $3 an hour. Other wages for teachers range from $500 to $1,000 a month, depending on the state or city.

The Panama Canal is a feat of engineering and amazing in size and function. The insight those folks had in the early 1900s is hard for me to wrap my mind around. I feel much the same when I see the projects of our northwestern forefathers with the St. Mary Diversion, the Ronan irrigation, and the Cardston to Taber Ditch. Unlike the Panama, which has been updated, our systems all need improvements and updates.

Happy Valentine’s Day to my wife of half a century.

Judy and Sen. Russ Tempel (406) 262-7778
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