Today we introduce a new opinion columnist. Long-time writer and political observer Randy Stapilus writes a weekly column about Idaho politics, and we begin publishing that column in today’s paper.

It has been more than 35 years since Randy’s byline graced the pages of the Caldwell News-Tribune and Idaho Free Press. Today, Randy is an editor, publisher and writer based in Carlton, Ore. He has been publishing periodicals on government and public affairs for more than 20 years, including the Idaho Weekly Briefing (and counterparts for Washington and Oregon). He also has published a number of books on the Northwest and other topics. His blog is at www.ridenbaugh.com.

You’ll find with Randy’s columns that he gives careful thought to what he says and backs up his words with facts. He’s well respected, and I’m thrilled we can bring his voice to the pages of the Idaho Press-Tribune.

In his own words, here’s what Randy shared with me.

1. I understand you worked for the Caldwell newspaper in the 70s. Specifically what years did you work there, who was the editor and publisher and what kind of stories did you cover?

I worked most specifically at the Caldwell News-Tribune, but also in effect — because Caldwell was by then as a matter of practice a new, advertising and circulation bureau — for the Nampa Idaho Free Press. That was in July 1976 to March 1978. My primary beat was county government and the Caldwell school district, but of course ranged across general assignment as well. In my last three months I covered the 1978 legislative session for the paper. The editor in Caldwell, who I worked with most directly throughout the time I was there, was Rick Coffman. The publisher then was Adam Kalb.

2. Tell us about other Idaho newspapers you write for.

The column is now running at the Twin Falls Times-News and the Spokane Spokesman-Review (on the website). Oddly, those are two of the few dailies in Idaho I’d never regularly written for before. Those I have include the Idaho Statesman, Idaho State Journal, Lewiston Tribune, the Coeur d’Alene Press (in effect, the Hagadone newspaper group) and, of course, Nampa-Caldwell.

3. Tell me about your company and mission.

Ridenbaugh Press publishes periodicals on government and public affairs for more than 20 years, currently including the Idaho Weekly Briefing (and counterparts for Washington and Oregon). It also has published a number of books on the Northwest and other topics, some by Randy Stapilus, others by other authors. (One is very much Canyon County-related: the recent book on the founding of the College of Western Idaho by Dennis Griffin, called “From Scratch.”) His blog is at www.ridenbaugh.com.

4. Why such a keen interest in politics?

Politics is the tool we have for deciding, to the extent we can impose it, what our world will be like. On the more direct level, the people and the campaigns are involving, and many of them are actually more likable close up than they seem at a distance. And it appeals to my interest in history.

5. How many books have you written about Idaho, and what are their titles?

Because there have been various editions of various books, coming up with an exact number may be subjective. But I would note: “Paradox Politics” (1988, new edition in 2009); a series of political almanac reference books on Idaho (starting in 1990, and the most recent this year, called the “Idaho Political Field Guide”); “It Happened in Idaho” (for Globe-Pequot Press in 2001) and “Outlaw Tales of Idaho” (Two Dot Publishing in 2008). And there have been several references on the “Snake River Basin Adjudication” (Upstream, from 2010, is the most recent). There is also a book planned for publication in a few months by myself and Marty Peterson (recently retired from the University of Idaho) on Idaho history.

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