By Mike Weland
Amber Copeland grew up here and graduated from
Ferry High School
Copeland and her daughters, Abigail,
Gracie, Lillian and Baylee.
Growing up here, she says,
her world consisted of people she knew and would
come to know. She grew up with two parents in
her home, who had a handful with she and her
brothers and sisters, Casey, Sean, Jody, Sarah
and Billie Jo.
Her house, overseen by her
parents, Pam and Larry
Copeland, wasn’t her only place of haven;
she could always visit her grandparent’s homes,
either Tom Copeland’s or Ron and Evelyn Smith’s.
“Oh, don't call him grandpa
… he hates that,” Amber said, referring to
former sheriff and long-time county commissioner
Ron Smith. “He prefers grandaddy, guess it's his
southern roots! He is the one who made what I’m
trying feel doable and achievable, but my main
inspiration for going into public service is an
innate desire to help people and to create
What she's trying is a run
for a seat on the Coeur d'Alene City Council.
But Amber isn’t the typical candidate for high
public office. She’s the single mother of four
beautiful children, currently unemployed but
pursuing higher education.
What many would construe as
weaknesses in a candidate for public office,
though, many others see as strengths.
She’s rough, tough,
opinionated and not afraid to speak her mind.
Sure of herself, happy with who she is and
determined to make her life and the lives of her
children; Lillian, 10, Gracie, 8, Baylee, 6, and
Abigal, 3, better.
And not only theirs, but
the lives of the many who are just like her,
people who most often go unheard.
“Growing up in a small
town,” she said, “gives you a valuable
perspective on what the world is. As a young
person, my world consisted of people I knew and
people I had seen and come to know. I was
fortunate to have two parents in the home and
five siblings. Growing up in a small town, I
feel, is one of the big reasons I have the kind
of ambition I have always had … it makes you
feel a sometimes unrealistic sense of what is
possible, a certain kind of naivety and idealism
which has stayed with me my entire life.”
Amber grew up in a school
invited and aware of local politics, city and
county. Here, a child was as welcome in the
“halls of power” as an adult, but they were made
so welcome, they didn’t really seem anything
more than neighbors listening to one another …
there was little to no “sense of power,” though
there was, she said, a sense of duty.
In moving to the city, she
said, that sense of approachability and
familiarity is lost.
In moving to a bigger
world, she said, she came to recognize that too
many people, people just like her, have no voice
simply because they don’t ask to speak.
“When someone else looks at
me,” she said, “they may see a person who has
failed a lot, but the truth is that every
failure has shown me what my limitations are,
which is very valuable. A lot of people in the
world spend their lives wondering what they can
do, but I have always known my capabilities
because I never stop trying. How I thank my
parents for always being the voice in my head,
even when the voice didn't often say what I
wanted to hear.”
The values instilled in a
small town kid don’t change. Every stumble is
just a pebble on the path to success, if only
you keep your head up and keep walking.
Amber Copeland is still