Courtesy of the Bonner County Daily Bee

July 22, 2017 at 5:00 am | By BROOKE WOLFORD Staff Writer

COEUR d’ALENE — Luke Mayville, his mother and brother moved to North Idaho in 1992 from Oklahoma after the death of his grandfather. Mayville’s grandfather had moved to Sandpoint from California after retiring from his job as a welder for General Motors. A veteran of World War II with no inherited wealth or college education, he worked his whole life to pass down that legacy to Mayville’s family. They moved to the one piece of land in Sagle his grandfather left them to find some sense of economic stability.

“What really gets to me is to think what it would be like for someone like my grandfather in today’s America,” Mayville said. “Someone who, say, comes back from Afghanistan today, with no inherited wealth. I wouldn’t even say with no college education — I would say even with two or four years of college education — but no family ties, no strong social networks of any kind.

“Would they still be able to build that kind of middle-class life for themselves and leave that to their family?”

Mayville, a Sandpoint native, author, activist and postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University, opened with this story to start the conversation about the campaign he co-founded, “Reclaim Idaho,” Friday at noon for the Kootenai County Democratic Club’s meeting at the Iron Horse Restaurant.

Shem Hanks, president of the Democratic Club, said Paula Neils, Kootenai County Democrats’ committee chair, invited Mayville to speak as part of the club’s tradition of bringing in a speaker once a month.

Mayville holds a Ph.D. from Yale University; his work focuses on economic inequality and oligarchy in the history of political thought. The Reclaim Idaho campaign launched Thursday night in Sandpoint, where Mayville and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson discussed the public education platform of the campaign. The other two platforms the campaign focuses on are protected public lands and health care for working families.

“We think education is the primary ladder by which someone — no matter what their background — can climb into the middle class, and health care costs are the primary thing that pulls people out of the middle class,” Mayville said.

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