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Sandy Patano

Sandy Patano of Coeur d'Alene

Sandy Patano of Coeur d'Alene is a member of the Capitol Commission. This interview was conducted in February, with a short interview in October of 2009.

What has impressed you on this February tour? Each time that we visit, I think that it exceeds not just mine but everyone's expectations. It is impressive when you see the numbers of people who come here every day, who do the millwork, the plaster, the scagliola, the marble. They are all craftsmen in their own right, and they have created and taken something that has great beauty, but made it even more beautiful.

Seeing the carpeting starting to come in and the finishing touches of tiles and lighting fixtures and the detail that goes in the Senate and the House Chambers as well as the offices is something we couldn't ever actually visualize.

You have to have an incredibly discerning eye, to look at the marble and know what was here before and what actually has been replaced to match. Everything is of the highest quality. I credit the craftsmanship, but also I credit the people who have been involved in the design, and the hours they spent in the planning and the development and the execution. They really have a tremendous talent to do a project of this magnitude, and I think they are to be applauded for that.

What do you think of the new wings? We've been through prosperity in the last decade that I've been on the commission. We've also experienced some downturns in our economy, which have slowed the project down. But I think sometimes in slowing it down, it allowed us a chance to more carefully review what we were doing and to actually make huge improvements and strides, and one of those I believe is the wings. As we protected the historical character and integrity of this building by adding the wings, we are increasing the access for the people of Idaho for generations to come.

At one time, what was a highly discussed topic, I think in the long run will be one of the best decisions that was made.

We certainly can't say that this commission had all of the ideas. There have been numerous commissioners who were initially appointed, who served and made tremendous contributions to the commission and to the project. People who have served on this commission and those who have been involved in staffing it have all come with a high level of commitment and passion for the project, which has made it easier.

The other people we really need to commend are our executive officers – our governor and our legislators – because they have to fund a project; and something of this magnitude, particularly when times get tough, is difficult to stay committed to. I think, fortunately, the legislators made a commitment. They didn't want it to appear self-serving; I think the addition of the wings says that this is to allow anyone who wants to participate in their government an opportunity to actually do so. I think that is one of the greatest accomplishments. And again, when you talk about the wings, that idea actually came from one of our state senators, and I think a core of people who are serving in our legislature today.

In the Capitol there were a series of small offices built to provide more space, which got away from the original design of the Capitol. The room that we're standing in here today was a series of small offices. This floor we're standing on was at a variety of levels with dividers in between. The ceiling in the room was 18 inches lower than it is now. The windows were actually cut off.

It has given us a chance to restore the original grandeur and intent of what Tourtelotte wanted for a capitol, and I think that as Idahoans come through here, they are all going to feel that sense of pride, and will be glad that, as a state, we made the commitment to take a grand building and restore it rather than to level it or not do anything and erect a box in its place.

Do you have a favorite room in the Capitol? I don't have a favorite room, but I get almost emotional, because I replaced Louise Shaddock on the commission. She was a pioneer woman in Idaho who also had a great love and appreciation of Idaho history and its people.

And I think people like her, people who have served in this building, citizens who have never made it to this building, will come here and will feel very fortunate that we have a place that they can call the peoples' house.

I think, when people walk in the building, they're going to be amazed by the attention that was paid to every single detail. People will be surprised, and I think they will be grateful that money was spent to preserve something of this great importance to the people in our state. The best news of all is that the project was on time and on budget. And I think for that, all taxpayers can be thankful.