Idaho County Clerk Travels to Illinois for Fall NACo Board Meeting

5 Dec 2022, by Jessica Roth Share :

By Kathy Ackerman, Idaho County Clerk

The Fall National Association of Counties (NACo) Board Meeting and Large Urban County Caucus (LUCC) Symposium was held just outside of Chicago from December 1-3. Since there are no counties in Idaho large enough to be included in LUCC, it is important for Idaho to be represented on the national front. It’s also beneficial for rural Idaho to understand and appreciate the challenges to governance that exist in large urban centers that can vary drastically from counties in our state.

I attended a session regarding policy making to address maternal mortality. In urban areas, this is occurring at an alarming rate largely due to the lack of providers for those living in poor environments or in minority groups, which oftentimes overlap. In large urban centers, an ethnically and racially diverse population is the norm; a strong departure from Idaho where those groups would clearly be defined as minorities in comparison to Idaho’s largely Caucasian population.

These differences in population make-up and size present contrasting challenges. I learned that in densely populated areas with significant diversity, there is concern about racism in medical care. This is not something I know to be an issue in Idaho, so it’s eye-opening to learn about the challenges faced in other parts of the country and in larger communities. The conversation addressing how to change policy to allow for more access to care was also beneficial. Recently, the Illinois legislature moved to include the use of doulas and midwives in Medicaid coverage. I was surprised to learn that in populated areas across America, doula services are mostly utilized by the wealthy. In my neck of the woods, doulas and midwives are often sought as a cost-saving measure.

Also interesting was the session on urban farming. When a person is surrounded by acres and acres of farm ground, it’s hard to imagine what goes into developing a ‘garden’ in an abandoned city lot. Most urban farms are addressing several needs of the community, such as food insecurity and diversion for at-risk individuals. We also heard from a community leader whose urban farm grows flowers as a direct-to-consumer product. This is a full-on business model that helps both workers and the community by cultivating important skills at a lower cost to the consumer. He reported that they stay busy with wedding and party arrangements and are filling an important gap for consumers who cannot afford the out-of-reach pricing most florists charge.

The NACo Board meeting was also attended by IAC Immediate Past President Chris Goetz. The meeting included a preview of NACo projects, as well as protocols being developed for the Annual Conference to be held in Austin, Texas in July.

As always, I appreciate the opportunity to represent Idaho and the Idaho Association of Counties (IAC) as the NACo Board Representative.

To learn more about NACo, visit their website.

Clearwater County Sheriff Chris Goetz (left) and Idaho County Clerk Kathy Ackerman (right) at the NACo conference in Illinois   
Idaho County Clerk Kathy Ackerman (left) and Carol Moehrle, District Director for Public Health – Idaho North Central District, (right) at the Will County Health Department