Nampa City Council, seat 5: Lance McGrath

October 7, 2013 

Name: Lance R. McGrath

Age: 43

Occupation: Academic Librarian, The College of Idaho

Education: B.A. in Philosophy, Northwest Nazarene University, 1993; Master of Science, Library Science, University of North Texas, 2006; Master of Educational Technology, Boise State University, in process

Prior political experience: None

Civic involvement: Old Nampa Neighborhood Association (founder, president) 2001-2007; various community service projects (Brush-Up Nampa, Rake-Up Nampa, Stormwater Cleanup, etc.) 2001-present; Idaho Arts Charter School (founder, volunteer) 2005-present; Nampa Public Library Foundation (founder, current president) 2007-present; Nampa Planning and Zoning Commission (current chair) 2008-present; Nampa Board of Appraisers (citizen member) 2012-present. Active in my church my whole life.

Years living in Nampa: 24

Family: Wife of 21 years, Marie; sons, Danner (14) and Garrison (11); and daughter, Kestrel (2)

Website: www.mcgrathfornampa.com

Social media accounts: Twitter; Facebook

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

I have a demonstrated record of public service evidenced in part by my success with the Old Nampa District and my experience on the Nampa Board of Appraisers and the Nampa Planning and Zoning Commission. I take my job as the current chair of the Nampa Planning and Zoning Commission seriously. I have a strong commitment to education and citizen-led responses to community issues. I have the intelligence and training to understand complex issues. I am a long-time resident committed to the long-term health, safety and vitality of Nampa. I will be accessible to the people of Nampa. My experience on the commission during the recession and into recovery is a huge asset. I do not own a small business in Nampa and do not have any potential conflicts or hidden agendas related to that business. I also live in central Nampa — my opponent doesn’t. Vote McGrath, Nampa Forward!

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

My top three priorities are to 1) Make city government more accessible and transparent, 2) Manage the city’s assets wisely, 3) Attract “good fit” companies to Nampa. Improvements have already been made to make the city more open to its citizens. However, having the city council meetings streamed over the web would be an enhancement in efforts to be accessible and transparent. In order to manage our assets wisely we need to review all contracts. The Idaho Center would be a good place to start. Perhaps we can turn things around. We need to continue to plan well and maintain our infrastructure in order to attract “good fit” companies to Nampa. I will make sure your money is spent wisely. I will make sure that city government is more transparent and accessible. I will work hard to bring good jobs to Nampa.

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

Saying one thing will do the trick oversimplifies the challenge. Economic development is a complex issue. The city should definitely continue to support the educational efforts of all its citizens. Education is an economic engine. The city has a responsibility to its citizens to be very active in economic development. We need to continue to utilize the dedicated professionals on city staff who are charged with acting in the community's interest to attract beneficial development to Nampa. Streamlining the permit process and having a dedicated contact would help small businesses.

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

I envision Nampa as a vibrant university town of around 100,000 people with family wage jobs, good schools, adequate parks, a healthy small business community, a strong and active downtown, and a solid commercial base. There is a good mix of land uses and good planning is evident. The population is healthy and diverse. There is a strong sense of community and place. People like to live in Nampa, as they have for generations, and look forward to the next 10 to 20 years.

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

I am concerned about just how busy people are and how hard they have to work to make ends meet. Dads and moms have to travel outside of Nampa because of the lack of good paying jobs in town. If a resident of Nampa has to work two jobs and their spouse has to work, too, how can they be involved in civic matters as much as they would like? It’s practically impossible unless one is retired or independently wealthy. We need to work to get good paying jobs in Nampa. Also, another thing we can do to increase civic engagement and combat apathy is to make more information about city government available. Streaming videos of city council and other city meetings is a good start. Better paying jobs and more accessible government could go a long way to helping people be more engaged in our community.

6. What are the top two issues facing Nampa, and how should they be addressed?

The top two issues facing Nampa are education and the economy. These two issues are tied to one another. We need strong educational programs in order to have an attractive workforce. This will attract more businesses to the area, drive growth and contribute to the stability of Nampa. We need to support all our students and their families. The city should continue to seek companies that are a "good fit" for the community.

7. 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?

Our city’s aging infrastructure needs attention. The Street Department budget needs more money in order to complete infrastructure improvements throughout the city. The recent storms showed us that our storm drain system needs some serious work. These improvements to our city’s streets, storm drains, and other infrastructure will make Nampa more attractive to potential businesses.

8. If more budget tightening is needed, where would you look first for cuts? Why?

I would first take a close look at city contracts. There may be some cost savings to be found in a contract audit. We could also do as much work in-house as possible and limit the use of consultants. The key concept to keep in mind is “asset management.” We need to make sure that we are using the community’s assets wisely and gaining the maximum benefit from them. If needed, I would then look to the department heads. They are the ones who know their areas and needs the best. The department heads have worked well together in addressing budget constraints and they should be afforded the opportunity to bring their ideas for cost cutting to the table. At the same time, we should also be looking for new revenue streams in the form of new business development.

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