Election 2013: Money points to heightened interest in GBAD election

Eight candidates raise more than $30,000 in a bid to control the Greater Boise Auditorium District's cash and revenue stream.

sberg@idahostatesman.comMay 21, 2013 

Downtown Boise.

  • What is GBAD?

    The Greater Boise Auditorium District was authorized by voters in 1959. It was created to be a tool to boost the Boise economy.

    The district gets its money from a 5 percent tax on hotel rooms inside its boundaries, which surround Boise. It operates Boise Centre, a convention venue that opened in 1990, and has studied possible expansion for many years.

    Who's running against whom?

    Voters will decide three of the district's five board seats in Tuesday's election.

    • Challengers Noah Bard, Steve Berch, John May and Jim Walker are running against incumbents Stephanie Astorquia and Rob Perez for six-year terms in two available seats. The election is at-large and the top two vote-earners win the seats.

    • George Tway and incumbent Peter Oliver are squaring off for a two-year term.

    Who votes?

    You are in the Greater Boise Auditorium District if you live within the following boundaries (roughly): Floating Feather Road and the Foothills to the north; Lake Hazel Road to the south; Eagle Road to the west; and the junction of Warm Springs Avenue and Gowen Road to the east. See a detailed boundary map at www.boiseauditorium.com.

    WHAT ELSE IS ON TUESDAY'S BALLOT?

    The School Board election in the financially troubled Nampa district is getting the most attention. Vallivue School District is asking voters for a $50 million school bond for a second high school.

    Ada County: The ballot also includes Meridian, Kuna and Melba school board; and West Boise and Eagle sewer directors.

    Eagle City Hall: Voters will decide on a $1.2 million bond to purchase City Hall.

    Canyon County: Voters will select trustees for Caldwell, Kuna, Melba, Meridian, Middleton, Nampa and Notus school districts (some districts straddle the two county lines). Commissioners for Canyon, Nampa and Golden Gate highway districts also are on the ballot, as well as school levies for Homedale, Parma, Vallivue and Wilder districts.

    City council expansions: Nampa and Meridian voters will decide whether to increase each city's respective council from four members to six.

  • VOTE TODAY, GET RESULTS TONIGHT

    Polls are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Absentee ballots must be turned in by 8 p.m. Not registered? Register at your polling place.

    Where do you vote? Call Ada County Elections at 287-6860 or Canyon Elections at 454-7562.

An average of less than $4,000 raised per candidate doesn't sound like too imposing until you consider how little interest Greater Boise Auditorium District board elections have generated this century.

Pat Rice, the district's executive director, couldn't think of a single contested race for the board of directors between 2001 and 2011. After the board reduced funding for the Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau, the 2011 election broke the uncontested streak.

"There's certainly more interest in this one, even than in '11, which is surprising," Rice said Monday.

The talk surrounding this year's election has a different tone than two years ago, Rice said. This year, everyone wants to talk about whether the district should throw its weight - and considerable financial resources - behind a multipurpose stadium, new convention center, or renovation of Boise Centre.

No candidate has openly opposed the stadium idea, but three - George Tway, Steve Berch and Jim Walker - supported it most vocally. They were the top three in campaign contributions.

In addition to receiving $11,545 in contributions, top fundraiser Walker has the endorsement of Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, who recorded an automated phone call in support of his longtime friend.

Tway, Berch and Walker recently questioned reports showing incumbents Peter Oliver, Rob Perez and Stephanie Astorquia had received no contributions and spent no money on their campaigns. That seemed impossible, since the candidates published a joint brochure in early May promoting their candidacies.

But the reports in question, which were due May 14, covered contributions and expenditures between Jan. 1 and May 5. Contributions hadn't started coming in by then, and the candidates hadn't received the bill for the brochure, said Jason Lehosit, who helped the incumbents' campaigns.

"How are you supposed to report something when you don't know what the cost is because you haven't got a bill from the printer yet?" Lehosit said.

Together the three incumbents raised at least $6,000, led by Oliver's $4,000.

As of May 5, candidates John May reported raising $2,800 and Noah Bard $999.

Sven Berg: 377-6275

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