The write stuff – Write-in candidate wants debate in Grass Valley race |

The write stuff – Write-in candidate wants debate in Grass Valley race

Terry Lamphier, about to graduate from a small high school in upstate New York dairy country, was set to begin a career in the U.S. Air Force when he was told he did not qualify because of poor eyesight.

So he headed to the state university in Buffalo, where he would discover the military would still significantly impact his life, although not in the way he would have predicted as an 18-year-old with a congressional appointment in hand for the Air Force Academy.

The war in Vietnam was going on, and Lamphier said he would never forget the sight of hundreds of police officers and their German shepherds on campus. Stuck in the middle between ROTC friends and ardent anti-war activists, Lamphier said he chose to watch – and learn.

“I observed, I listened, I went to demonstrations,” he said.

Fast-forward almost 40 years, and the Grass Valley contractor – who is running as a write-in candidate for the City Council race – still exhibits these traits. He was one of dozens arrested on Broad Street while protesting the war in Iraq. He said he did not mean to protest that day, but as he was passing by he sympathized with what was being done, and sat down.

Not one to sit on the sidelines without saying anything these days, Lamphier has been a consistent and prolific letter-writer to The Union since he moved to Nevada County.

“I can’t help it,” he said, saying that for him, it is not about getting the recognition for the idea, but allowing the idea itself to have a voice.

“I believe a good idea can come from anywhere,” he said.

It is Lamphier’s name, however, that resonates with people in the community, and he is banking on this familiarity to get him at least a few votes on Nov. 2.

Because he is a write-in candidate, the name “Terry Lamphier” won’t appear on the ballot and those who wish to vote for him will have to physically write his name.

Lamphier did consider running as a regular candidate, but he was deterred by the belief that with at least four candidates running, he would be ensured the ideas he wanted talked about would go to debate. When he learned there were only three candidates for the three seats, Lamphier decided to run to promote dialogue.

He was also encouraged by a fellow contender in the race, Dean Williams, a friend he had met at karaoke parties where they both sang baritone. Williams even signed Lamphier’s nomination petition, both hopeful that an additional candidate would provoke discussion and debate, especially about growth.

The decision to make a bid for the important job has inspired a clear pride in Lamphier’s son, Tim, a Nevada Union senior. As Tim spoke about his father at a coffee shop in Grass Valley recently, one can easily see the similarities between father and son. Articulate and ambitious, the young Lamphier described his father as “a smart guy who tries to get the whole essence of a situation and weigh both sides,” he said.

Lamphier’s own father was the chairman of the local liberal party when Lamphier was 10 years old, but Lamphier said “liberal” meant something different back then. His parents owned a small business which sold cowboy boots and hats and they were mostly interested in keeping taxes down.

Lamphier said Nevada County reminds him of home in many ways, and he is concerned about the trend he sees the community heading toward.

“Realistically, I don’t have a chance of being elected. It is enough for me to be out there.”

Bio in Brief

Terry Lamphier

Born: Feb. 27, 1949, near Ithaca, N.Y.

Family: Divorced with a son, Tim

Political experience: Part-time political activist

Job: Licensed contractor

Activities: Whitewater rafting, gold panning, reading political thrillers, and playing guitar

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