Kristin Collum

Kristin Collum, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, addressed audience members at the City Club of Idaho Falls on Oct. 18. Janice McGeachin, the Republican candidate, didn’t show up. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

Kristin Collum is one of the most competent and intelligent statewide candidates the Gem State has seen.

Anyone familiar with the military will recognize what her meteoric rise there says about her grit. Unable to afford college after high school, she enlisted in the Army and started as a private. A decade later, she was an officer with a master’s degree serving on Gen. Colin Powell’s staff. Along the way, she served as an infantry platoon leader.

Collum pulled herself up by her bootstraps, and she pulled herself a very, very long way up. We hope she keeps rising, and she has our unanimous endorsement in the lieutenant governor’s race.

After the military, Collum entered the tech sector. She’s developed a particular concentration in cybersecurity. That’s a vital asset at present.

A lieutenant governor’s duties are in some sense narrow — filling in when the governor is indisposed and presiding over the Senate. That means an effective lieutenant governor has to carve out a special niche. Lt. Gov. Brad Little has done an admirable job of this in matters of economic development and energy policy, among other things.

Collum is better equipped than Republican Janice McGeachin to pick up the tasks Little will leave behind. For example, she hopes to continue serving on the LINE Commission, as Little has. In editorial board interviews, she showed a detailed understanding of nuclear energy and cleanup issues.

And she could play an especially essential role in dealing with rising cyber threats.

The state government and local governments around Idaho have vital private information about you — sealed court documents, social security numbers, credit card numbers, child welfare reports and health records. They have information vital to keeping agencies running.

Cyber threats are a new problem that Idaho is ill-equipped to deal with, and they aren’t far off. They’re becoming routine.

Last year, the city of Blackfoot was hit with a ransomware attack. Hackers broke into city computer systems and encrypted vital data. Only the hackers had the password to unlock them. If the city wanted access to its records — your records — the hackers wanted tens of thousands of dollars — your money.

This month, something similar happened to Madison County.

In recent years, hackers have hit the Idaho Legislature, the Idaho Tax Commission and the Secretary of State’s Office, which ensures the integrity of elections. Cyber attacks are becoming a major threat to individual privacy and effective government throughout Idaho.

The threats will only grow over time, and Idaho needs a competent official who can assess the threats and develop a robust approach to deal with them. It’s hard to imagine someone better suited to the task than Collum, who has extensive experience dealing with cybersecurity in the private sector.

McGeachin has no comparable credentials. She does have many qualifications to recommend her. Her many years of service in the Legislature have given her a familiarity with the ins and outs of state government. She has an eye for spotting regulations that place hurdles in front of businesses without providing many benefits for society.

But Collum is clearly more qualified.

The Post Register’s editorial board consists of Publisher Travis Quast, Managing Editor Monte LaOrange and editorial writer Bryan Clark. Clark can be reached at 208-542-6751.

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