Boise City Council, seat 4: Bill Jarocki

October 7, 2013 

Name: Bill Jarocki

Age: 59

Occupation: President, Voltaic Solutions, LLC

Education: Northwestern University, BA; Indiana University, School of Public and Environmental Affairs; Boise State University, MPA

Prior political experience: I have assisted and served with local, state and federal officials throughout my career. This is my first run for public office.

Civic involvement: My public service career has been an example of civic involvement. My civic involvement has been directly related to helping those whose serve the public. Beginning in the late 1970s helping small cities and counties in the Midwest to invest public funds wisely, streamlining state government agencies in Indiana as a legislative performance auditor, and later serving county governments with the Association of Indiana Counties. I came to Idaho in 1983 to work with city officials at the Association of Idaho Cities, then running the DEQ’s Bureau of Research and Analysis (1992-96) to implement better ways to work with communities and to really measure environmental performance, and then running BSU’s Environmental Finance Center (1996-2010) to bring innovation and common sense to environmental protection in the United States and internationally. Always with this public purpose in mind: delivering sustainable services at the least cost. I continue to do this as president of Voltaic Solutions.

Years living in Boise: 30

Family: Sons, Marek and Stefan

Website: voltaicsolutions.com

Social media accounts: Twitter: @voltaicjarocki; Facebook.com/myvotematters

1. What makes you a better choice for voters than your opponent(s)?

As a fiscal conservative I’m driven by the idea that local government is obligated to provide services that make sense and are efficiently funded. I offer the citizens a chance to vote for the candidate who not only wants to limit taxes and fees, but has real government experience in Idaho, both at the local and state levels. My experience at the national and international levels has also allowed me the opportunity to better understand the complexities of intergovernmental policy as it relates to local government. This is necessary here in the Capitol, as Boise’s city government is part of a larger system of governance that includes neighboring communities, county, state and the federal government. Because I have worked at all three levels for over 30 years, I can hit the ground running on day one to rebuild important relationships with intergovernmental partners that have been breached during my opponents’ term.

2. If elected, what are your top three priorities? How will you accomplish them? Please provide specifics.

As the common sense candidate, my top priorities are: creating living-wage jobs, promoting participatory budgeting, and promoting maximum use of vacant commercial property. I would accomplish each goal by nurturing the professional and intergovernmental relationships that are necessary in order to create business friendly policies for both large and medium sized companies that will offer meaningful living wages to their employees. As a matter of public policy, I will work with our public and private education institutes to assist with public participation forums, bringing effective and engaged public participation in local tax issues and policy decisions. Finally, I am concerned about commercial property development that is occurring in neighboring communities as commercial property remains vacant in Boise for long periods of time. We need incentives for business development. And we need to develop trust with the leaders of the Idaho Legislature to get the tools for greater economic opportunities.

3. What is the one thing your city should start doing to encourage economic development and create jobs?

In many respects the one thing we should do is to recognize that the most recent, sustained, and successful period of economic development we have experienced in the city of Boise occurred when we united in purpose supporting private sector expansion. To unite in purpose today we need to recognize that our city government needs to be a catalyst for economic development by using its policy making authority to create opportunities for business development and economic diversification and growth. Where the city’s authority is lacking, Boise needs to work with legislative leaders to get the permission to create tools that the city can use to incentivize development. We need to tell our story better. That is, the state of Idaho prospers as Boise prospers and state leaders need to be persuaded that economic prosperity in Boise is not a zero sum game for other communities.

4. How do you envision your city 10 to 20 years from now? How should it change?

In 10 years I envision Boise as a place where businesses can start up and grow, creating a broader economy and a marketplace for locally developed technologies, products, and services.

In 20 years I envision Boise as the place to call home. A place that our grown kids can call home — not because they visit us here, but because they live here. Today Boise has a wonderful reputation as a place to raise a family. But, what happens to your family when the kids grow up, go to college here or out of state, and your kids move to Salt Lake City, Seattle, Portland or San Francisco to get that good paying job that matches their career interests. In 20 years I want you to live in a place where it is not a luxury or plain luck that you’re surrounded by your kids and grandkids in what is in many respects the best city in the United States.

5. Are you concerned about public apathy and involvement in civic matters? How would you get more people involved?

I will create a public forum that encourages open and honest public participation. I stand by my previous statements on this subject, that I endorse completely the idea that citizens have the right and the obligation to make their opinions and their recommendations known to their elected officials in matters concerning their households, neighborhoods, and their community as a whole. I will explain, push, and promote a process for citizen input into budgeting decisions. The council is ultimately responsible for budgeting and investing dollars that achieve community priorities set forth by mandates and by the public. And the council I will serve on will not be complacent. Instead we will examine the purpose of program activities and eliminate or defund activities that do not meet our community priorities for the future. When citizens realize their voices could be heard on priorities and spending decisions, they will want to be involved.

6. Do you support either or both bonds for open space, public safety and parks? Why?

No. I am not in favor of the citizens taking on more debt anytime soon. From my vantage point, our community is barely emerging from the great recession and we all have a responsibility for nearly $17 trillion in federal government debt. And my opponent wants us to take on more debt? It isn’t that I’m not a proponent of parks — I enjoy the greenbelt nearly every day — and I want a well-trained fire department, but let’s take a closer look at the current budgets first. Can we be more efficient with what we have? What about closing or reconfiguring parks that are seldom used? Let’s reduce other parts of city government first before we ask the citizens to take on debt over new things. The Idaho Statesman recently reported that the city has eight public information officers! C’mon already, we need to be smarter with the taxpayer dollars. 7. Should the city upgrade its shooting range, leave it as is or do something else entirely? Why?

As long as it is operated safely and the activity there is not a threat to the shooters or the general public, then leave it as is. If the status quo is acceptable, then, the city council should concentrate on business and economic development policy and policy implementation.

8. Should Boise raise Downtown metered parking rates? How much? Why?

No. And I am not in favor of having any system that resets the parking meter to zero minutes when a user exits the parking space. As a long-time Boise resident I know there is more metered parking in the downtown area than ever before. If the idea is to raise parking rates to support more ticket writers, then as a matter of policy I would ask the current administration to make do with current revenues or remove meters.

9. If elected, what would you do to change the public transportation system in Boise?

I am not in favor of any changes to our public transportation system at this time. While it is tempting to copy what other big cities do, it is important to recognize that the culture of the community supports conservative, incremental change. For several years I was a faithful rider of the Boise Urban Stages, the forerunner to the current ValleyRide system. Public transportation has steadily improved over the past 30 years and continues to be a viable and convenient alternative for many citizens. I believe that market demand for public transportation will increase as the price of fuel increases, and I support a business-like approach to public transportation as it responds to consumer demand in the marketplace.

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