Name: Luke Cavener
Occupation: Vice president, Mosaic Advisors
Education: Bachelor of arts in Political Science, University of Nevada Las Vegas; bachelor of arts in Communications, University of Nevada Las Vegas
Prior Political Experience: Community Liaison for Mayor Tammy deWeerd 2008-2012; Intern, Nevada Republican Sen. John Ensign, 2001
Civic Involvement: Meridian Food Bank Board Member, 2010-present; Meridian Business Day Founding Board Member, 2009-present; Meridian Development Corporation Board Member, 2012-present; Meridian PAL soccer coach, 2010-present; Idaho Learning Lab Board Member, 2012-present; Established Treasure Valley Youth Summit, 2012
Years living in Meridian: 28 years
Family: Wife, Adrean, one child
Endorsements: Mayor Tammy de Weerd; Dan Clark, executive director, Meridian Food Bank; Christine Donnell, former joint school district superintendent; Brandon and Monique Wright , Meridian business owners; Tom Roy , executive director Meridian PAL; Mayor Jim Reynolds, Eagle mayor; Meridian Fire Local 4627; Brenda Sherwood, Meridian city economic development director.
1. What makes you a better choice for voters than your opponent(s)?
Im the best choice due to my successful, long-term track record serving and as a voice in our community. As an advocate for young families in our community, I will be committed to providing a unique, different perspective at the City Council level.
Meridian is a premier community in which to build, grow and raise our families. As such, we are uniquely positioned to experience change and challenges different then cities to the west and east. These challenges require vision, common sense, a conservative approach to budgeting and planning and a commitment to our current citizens to use growth as a mechanism for community improvement.
Different than my opponents, I have a vision and commitment to our community through hand-on involvement that transcends this election. Ive been Meridians advocate and critic because, above all else, Im proud to call Meridian home.
2. If elected, what are your top three priorities? How will you accomplish them? Please provide specifics.
Keeping our families safe: Our community changed, and our expectation of safety changed with it. As such, as Meridian prepares for a new area of community growth we need to be proactive in supporting our emergency responders. Funding appropriate training, tools and facilities to meet our residents needs both north and south of I-84 is key.
Building Meridians economy: Meridian is positioned to be the economic center of the Treasure Valley. Building, attracting and retaining business and industry is critical. While not a simple solution, building Meridians economy involves identifying industries that could be successful in Meridian such as health sciences and technology, bio and agriculture science and agriculture focused tourism.
Transparent and accessible government: I believe it is an elected officials duty to be transparent and accessible to their constituents. I have a plan in place to better connect with our citizens including holding office hours on weekends to meet with our citizens at a convenient time.
3. What is the one thing your city should start doing to encourage economic development and create jobs?
Meridian must continue to collaborate with business and industry to directly impact the local, regional and state economy. Partnerships between local government, as well as stakeholders in education, property development, and employer services are key, as government alone cannot be responsible for job creation. As a city leader Id work to further establish a healthy environment for business and industry to thrive, the city can appropriately support private growth.
By growing business clusters in health science technology, agriculture/biosciences, and agriculture focused tourism; Meridian can establish a diverse economy that would support both large and small businesses for years to come.
It is time for the City to explore offering incentive dollars in the place of job training to ensure that a workforce is created that meets the needs of a potential large-scale employer. In addition, I believe the state needs to further explore how Idaho can compete against states like Utah to attract business and industries that will directly impact the state and local economy.
4. How do you envision your city 10 to 20 years from now? How should it change?
Meridian should always be the community that provides a range of housing options with quality city services and community amenities. When you look at Meridian over the next 10 to 20 years, I believe the City needs to focus needs of Meridian south of I-84. South Meridian is positioned to be the next high growth region and as a result ensuring appropriate emergency services, access to safe potable water as well as community amenities such as parks, shopping and dining will be key.
Likewise with the addition of the LDS temple in North Meridian, the city government should be prepared to manage the growth that will inevitably follow.
5. Are you concerned about public apathy and involvement in civic matters? How would you get more people involved?
There is a certain amount of public apathy about elected officials at all levels. Apathy at any level of government should be concerning, but at the local level it is especially troubling. I have found that when I meet with Meridian citizens, there isnt so much apathy, as an inability to get involved.
In Meridian, many of our families have households where both parents work and are raising young children. Family, career and social priorities often limit individuals ability to participate in local government. Currently, the majority of city council meetings occur at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, making them a challenge to attend. When elected, I will advocate for a later meeting time that is easier for people to attend. Furthermore, Id advocate making the ability to view council meetings online more user friendly. Lastly, as previously mentioned, I will hold office hours on weekends both in City Hall and throughout the community to engage with our citizens on their terms.
6. Meridian is poised to become the city's second largest city. How do you embrace growth and expansion and still maintain your small-town, family-oriented values?
My earliest childhood memories are in Meridian. I recall a time in our community where Meridian lacked parks, shopping and even a McDonalds. During my childhood, Meridian relied on a volunteer fire department, and often didnt have a single on-duty police officer able to respond to the communitys needs. Growth has brought citizens a range of services and choices right here at home. With the expansion of our city we have seen the addition of parks, churches, community events and opportunities that make Meridian a great place to call home.
What is different is many people are celebrating community in their neighborhood rather in the town center we need both. Building relationships with visionary property developers is key to maintaining Meridians sense of community. Building neighborhoods that appeal to families ensures that Meridian will continue to be a community place no matter the citys population.
7. What are the top two issues facing Meridian, and how should they be addressed?
The two major issues facing Meridian revolve around community expansion and economic growth. Both of these issues are intertwined. Meridian has always been a great place to live, and thus we continually attract individuals and families to our community. Likewise, we need to find opportunities and platforms to promote Meridian as an ideal location for companies large and small to call home.
City leadership has done a successful job of working alongside many partners to develop a community that embraces planned growth in a successful manner. While Meridian experienced a decade of extreme growth, City and community stakeholders grew to a publicly adopted plan. While I havent always loved the impact of growth, I believe that anyone should be able to live, work and play in this amazing community.
I believe our community is poised for an economic boom in the near future. By maintaining a fiscally conservative environment that embraces business of all sizes, we will expedite the business expansion. As a city councilman, I will work to promote our community and region to attract businesses that bring career wage jobs to Meridian.
8. If tax revenues take an upswing in the next few years, which part of city government do you think most needs an infusion of cash, and why?
With the development of The Village at Meridian, we are poised to see an increase in revenues and also an impact to our city services. Excess funds should be reinvested for economic development. As mentioned above, we have a unique opportunity to build and establish industry clusters that could directly result in the establishment of career wage-level jobs. Investing in the success and opportunity for our community should be paramount for our municipalitys current and future success.
9. If more budget tightening is needed, where would you look first for cuts? Why?
Meridian has a long-standing track record of being financially conservative which has allowed the city to operate "in the black" even in down years. Should Meridian see an economic downfall, city leaders should be prepared to reduce government as opposed to raising taxes. Identifying a single source to reduce cost would be imprudent; rather, finding multiple locations to scale down slightly would better serve our citizens. In addition, I would look to hold any funding on capital projects such as non-critical building facilities such as parks and non-emergency facilities until the budget could adequately fund them.