We are excited to be involving Statesman readers in helping decide the future Boise city government.
Our Boise mayoral election panel is hard at work evaluating the three mayoral candidates for the Nov. 3 election. They come from diverse backgrounds, love their community and want to see the best leadership in Boise going forward.
This group of seven panelists has partnered with three citizen members of the Idaho Statesman Editorial Board to hammer out the questions we will ask next week during interviews with Mayor Dave Bieter and challengers Judy Peavey-Derr and Seth Holden.
Why? Boise is a politically passionate place. And we know that opening up the process and tapping more voices and more brains will produce dividends over the next 26 days before votes are counted. We know already from working with the panel and the board that this is a big election. One of the panelists called the process “a job interview for mayor.”
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Our reader panelists are as excited about the project as we are. We know we’ll get new insights from them and their community contacts. One panelist plans to share the experience on his Facebook page.
Here’s how we got to this point — and where we’re headed.
Instead of a traditional endorsement, we put the word out for engaged Boise residents interested in helping us evaluate the candidates. After sifting through a number of names sent our way or suggested by members of the Editorial Board, we invited several to join the group.
We looked for Boiseans who were undecided about who to vote for, who had no conflicts of interests and who could attend at least two critical meetings: one to establish goals and ground rules and draft candidate questions, and a second to formally interview the candidates and rate them.
We then asked our core group to nominate other possible panelists who met the same criteria. We ended up with seven reader panelists. We’re moving quickly because early voting starts Oct. 20. We wanted to be able to share our panel’s assessments in time to be useful to the 25 percent who choose to vote earlier as well as the 75 percent who vote on Election Day.
After our interviews, our panel will assign numerical ratings (1 to 10, with 10 being best) to the answers candidates give to the questions our readers panel chose for Bieter, Peavey-Derr and Holden. I will moderate; our board — Ben Ysursa, Martin Peterson and Angela Nelson— will weigh in with ratings as well.
Here’s what we will share as soon as we can: posted recordings of the entire interviews; videos comparing the answers to key questions; and a print summation we are planning for the Opinions section as soon as Sunday, Oct. 18.
In the meantime, the Statesmen’s online Voter’s Guide — which contains information on candidates, bonds and levies throughout the Treasure Valley — is scheduled to debut Friday.
Here are our reader panelists:
• Shelley Bennett, Idaho Wine Commission.
• Matt Cryer, Boise real estate agent.
• Bob Fick, longtime Idaho journalist and retired spokesman for the Idaho Department of Labor.
• Heather Kimmett, Key Bank.
• Lynn Russell, professor emeritus and founding dean of the College of Engineering, Boise State University.
• Sophie Sestero, account executive, Fahlgren Mortine public relations.
• Joe Swenson, CEO of the nonprofit NeighborWorks Boise.