Greater Boise Auditorium District newcomers say they aren't locked into stadium

The only incumbent to hang on to his seat Tuesday worries that's just lip service.

sberg@idahostatesman.comMay 23, 2013 

  • TURNOUT DECLINES

    Two years ago, just like this year, six candidates ran for two six-year terms on the Greater Boise Auditorium District. That was the first contested district election since 2003. In both elections, the top two vote-getters won.

    Judy Peavey-Derr and Hy Kloc were the winners in 2011, collecting nearly 6,000 of 14,677 total votes cast.

    This year, Steve Berch and Jim Walker won by earning more than 5,000 of 11,022 total votes.

    Officials say a total of 9,457 voters participated Tuesday in all of Ada County, where more than 175,000 people are registered. That total might be misleading because voters could make two selections in one of the GBAD races.

    Ada County hasn't published reports on voter turnout in the auditorium district precincts. Those will be available next week, an election official said.

  • GREATER BOISE AUDITORIUM DISTRICT ELECTION RESULTS

    Six-year term (Vote for two)

    Jim C. Walker, 24%

    Steve Berch, 22%

    Stephanie Astorquia, 20%

    Rob R. Perez, 19%

    John May, 11%

    Noah D. Bard, 3%

    Two-year term

    George Tway, 49.8%

    Peter Oliver, 50.2%

Jim Walker and Steve Berch, who teamed up to wrest control of the Greater Boise Auditorium District from a slate of incumbents, said they're ready to make decisions about how to spend the district's money.

They say they're open to all kinds of proposals, not just the new multiuse stadium that both candidates say intrigues them.

"I don't see this as a referendum on building a baseball stadium," Berch said. "What I see this as is looking for a board that's, No. 1, going to be more engaging and have a bias for action. You definitely don't want to be reckless in your decision-making, but you don't want to be paralyzed by analysis, either."

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter encouraged Walker, a personal friend, to run and later endorsed him. Bieter said it was gratifying to see Walker notch a win in his first campaign.

"This is a different business," Bieter said. "There's nothing quite like running for public office and nothing quite like winning when you do run."

Though Bieter has long supported building a stadium in Boise, he said the auditorium district's first order of business should be expanding Boise Centre, a Downtown convention center that the district operates. That doesn't mean the district can't work on both projects, Bieter said.

Berch said he wants to hear from businesspeople such as hotel and restaurant owners, real estate agents and transportation specialists, as well as other government agencies and the general public, before making up his mind which projects to support.

"I really want to do a lot of listening and hear what a lot of people have to say and learn a lot from people, key players in the community," he said.

That sounds nice, said incumbent Peter Oliver, who beat challenger George Tway by just 19 votes. Tway appeared with Berch and Walker on a campaign flier touting the candidacy of the three.

But Oliver wonders whether Walker and Berch are really committed to cooperating.

"That's where the proof ends up being in the pudding," Oliver said, "where people say things like, 'We're going to work together. We're going to pool resources. We're going to have an open mind. We're going to look at the best thing for Boise.' But is it really going to happen?"

The day after the election, Oliver was still pounding on the gospel he preached throughout his campaign. He insisted that any project the auditorium district backs must meet three criteria: that the district can afford to build it and can afford to sustain it, and that it maximizes economic return.

He's worried that Walker and Berch will side with board Chairman Hy Kloc - another Bieter ally - to push for a new stadium whether it meets those criteria or not.

"Every citizen should be worried about it," Oliver said. "Because that's something that can come out of the gate as a, quote, 'legacy project,' and the only legacy of it (is that) our kids have to deal with the consequences."

Walker, Berch and Oliver are expected to start their new terms sometime next month.

Sven Berg: 377-6275

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