Boise & Garden City

Will endorsements, tactics swing the Boise auditorium district election?

GBAD candidates on their visions for the district

Scott Mecham, Judy Peavey-Derr, Hy Kloc and Kristin Muchow share their thoughts on a proposed Downtown Boise stadium, parking and other issues facing the Greater Boise Auditorium District.
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Scott Mecham, Judy Peavey-Derr, Hy Kloc and Kristin Muchow share their thoughts on a proposed Downtown Boise stadium, parking and other issues facing the Greater Boise Auditorium District.

Most Boise voters will find only one election on their ballots Tuesday: a four-person race for two seats on the Greater Boise Auditorium District board of directors.

If anyone has conducted polling on this race, they’ve not shared it.

That’s not surprising. The auditorium district doesn’t generate the kind of interest that city councils and county commissions receive.

But it’s a key player locally. Its five-member board controls a pot of money that replenishes itself from a 5 percent tax on hotel rooms inside its boundaries, which encircle Boise and Garden City.

That makes the district one of the most courted agencies around. Developers pitching projects, especially the kinds that involve public-private partnerships, yearn for its financial backing. The highest-profile example right now is a proposal to build a baseball-soccer-events stadium in Downtown Boise, but the board fields proposals for all kinds of projects, large and small.

So it’s also not surprising that the candidates in this year’s election have attracted plenty of endorsements from Boise’s political and business elite.

Scot Mecham, one of two challengers and a political newcomer, is the exception.

“Endorsements are not something I am focused on,” Mecham said Friday in an email to the Idaho Statesman.

His fellow challenger, Kristin Muchow, went the opposite direction. Though she’s a political rookie, Muchow’s list of endorsements includes Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and half the City Council, as well as Boise School District trustee Beth Oppenheimer, the general manager of Inn at 500, several Idaho legislators and Boise Elevated, a nonprofit that promotes business and community involvement.

The two incumbents in this race — also the two senior board members — also drummed up impressive endorsements.

Judy Peavey-Derr counts developer Larry Leasure, Micron Technology co-founder Ward Parkinson and fellow board member Peter Oliver as supporters in her bid for another term. Hy Kloc, who also serves as a state representative, claims the backing of Bieter and almost all Democratic legislators in Boise.

This election also offers voters an unusual tactical choice. It’s at-large, so the top two vote-getters win seats.

Voters can choose two candidates, and most will do just that. But there’s another option. If a voter chooses just one candidate, it gives that candidate a slight boost by removing a competing vote. It’s unlikely this tactic alone would swing the election, but there’s no guarantee endorsements will make a difference, either.

Also Tuesday: School, fire, library, highway district votes

Tuesday’s election will decide races for the Caldwell, Middleton and Nampa school boards; highway district seats across Canyon County; and several school, fire and library funding measures.

▪  Polls are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Absentee ballots must be returned to county clerks’ offices by 8 p.m.

▪  Find out where to vote by visiting your county clerk website.

▪  See the Greater Boise Auditorium District boundaries, which encircle Boise and Garden City.

▪  Visit the Statesman’s online voter guide to find out what is on your ballot and to learn more about the candidates.

The candidates

Judy Peavey-Derr, incumbent

Lives in: Boise, Crescent Rim Drive

Occupation: Government affairs consultant, Boy Scout commissioner

Political experience: GBAD since 2011; two four-year terms as Ada County commissioner; four years on Ada County Highway District board of commissioners

Hy Kloc, incumbent

Lives in: Boise’s Collister Neighborhood

Occupation: Retired

Political experience: GBAD since 2011; state representative since 2013

Scott Mecham, challenger

Lives in: Boise’s Collister Neighborhood

Occupation: Owner, KMS Financial

Political experience: None

Kristin Muchow, challenger

Lives in: Southeast Boise

Occupation: General manager, Meeting Systems Inc.

Political experience: None

GBAD AT A GLANCE

▪  The Greater Boise Auditorium District was established by voters in June 1959 to encourage growth and economic activity by building and operating visitor facilities like auditoriums, arenas and convention venues.

▪  The district’s money comes from a 5 percent tax on hotel room rentals inside its boundaries, which encircle Boise and Garden City.

▪  The district owns and operates Boise Centre, the convention venue on The Grove Plaza that just underwent a $47.5 million expansion.

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