With 12 years as Nampa's mayor and six years on the Nampa City Council, Tom Dale is a formidable political opponent. During his most recent go on the ballot, in 2009, he drew 70 percent of the vote in a four-way race.
Of his three challengers this fall, Bob Henry, 62, has the most political experience. He served 12 years on the Nampa School Board and has served the past two years on the Nampa City Council.
While the council controls the city's purse strings and makes most major decisions, Henry thinks he can better pursue change as mayor.
"The mayor has a responsibility for day-to-day management of the city. Effective leadership would bring cohesion, accountability and a sense of shared mission to all employees," said Henry, who owns an insurance agency.
Challengers Robert Muse and Melissa Sue Robinson are short on political experience. Muse, 56, is a bail bondsman and a 2012 candidate for Canyon County sheriff (he got 34 percent of the vote). Robinson, 63, is a retired business owner.
As in the council races, three issues are hot-button items:
"We have to get the levy rate down," Henry said. "We are not competitive with our surrounding communities, and many businesses have chosen to locate where the tax rates are lower."
But Dale, 62, said businesses and people consider more than the city levy rate when deciding to locate to a new place. Public safety, education and parks are factors, he said.
"They ask, is this a place where our worker would want to live?" he said.
Dale also said candidates for Nampa city offices are misinformed or do not understand how much the recession affected levy rates in Nampa and around the state. The City Council did not raise taxes during the past three years, but the levy rate went up anyway because property within the city lost so much value during the recession, he said. (Read about the nine candidates vying for Nampa City Council)
Both Muse and Robinson said taxes in Nampa should be lower. That, Robinson said, "would come about when citizens were well employed."
Dale is an urban renewal proponent. Muse, in turn, wants to eliminate the urban renewal agency as soon as possible.
"Urban renewal is not popular in Nampa. We need to bring it under the control of the City Council, pay off our debt and retire it," Henry said.
Henry does not want to get rid of the city-subsidized venue, but he said the management contract needs to be reworked to ensure better performance.
Dale also doesn't want to pull the plug.
"The solution to the Idaho Center is to increase revenue," Dale said. "We have done that in the last couple years. We are very close to signing a naming-rights contract this year, which will bring in another $200,000."
Robinson, however, said the Idaho Center would be one of the first places to look for budget cuts if they were needed. And Muse has pledged to "start repairing roads by eliminating the Idaho Center from the budget."
Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell