Boise & Garden City

‘I am in this race’: Why these Boise city candidates filed on the very first day

Bob Parsley sings to Boise City Council

Bob Parsley, a Boise resident, sings to Boise City Council about how much he loves his neighborhood and how he doesn't want it to change.
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Bob Parsley, a Boise resident, sings to Boise City Council about how much he loves his neighborhood and how he doesn't want it to change.

Running for an elected city office in Idaho requires a $40 fee or five verified signatures from registered city voters. For some candidates, it also requires a trip to City Hall to declare candidacy on the very first day they can file.

Mondays mornings are often quiet in the lobby of Boise’s City Hall, where the clerk’s office is, but this Monday, the morning was punctuated by excited chatter from family, friends and campaign staff as several candidates for Boise City Council submitted their declarations of candidacy to the city clerk’s office. It was the first day that candidates on the Nov. 5 ballot could declare; the last is Sept. 6.

Jimmy Hallyburton was the first, biking with several friends (and his rescue dog, Ned) in tow. Hallyburton, founder of the Boise Bicycle Project, submitted 10 signatures from newly registered voters but had collected 1,000 signatures total, he said, to show Boiseans that the bare minimum was never enough. He turned in his paperwork for his bid for Seat 3 at 8:08, just eight minutes after City Hall opened for the day.

“This is what you should expect from us as a candidate, and this is what you should expect if we get elected,” Hallyburton said. “Today was pretty exciting.”

Seat 3 is open after Council member Scot Ludwig announced he would not run for a second four-year term. So far, Hallyburton is running against Meredith Stead, a planning and zoning commissioner, who also filed Monday morning.

“Give me an ‘M,’” a friend of Stead’s cheered as she submitted her 10 signatures.

There are six seats on the Boise council, all with four-year terms and all nonpartisan. Every two years, half the seats on the council are up for election. Seats 1, 3 and 5 are up in 2019, though the numbers don’t indicate any sort of special district or seniority. Members earn $25,660 a year, rising to $26,430 in 2020 and $27,223 in 2021. They also receive $150 monthly for incidental expenses, including in-town travel and meetings.

The mayor, who also serves a four-year term, is on the ballot this year. The mayor makes $140,873 per year, rising to $145,099 in 2020 and $149,452 in 2021. The mayor also receives $150 monthly for incidental expenses.

Candidates want to file first for myriad reasons — some to get it out of the way, others to signal to voters that they are serious the job. Tecle Gebremichael, a candidate for Seat 1, said he was excited to get to work.

“I wanted to make sure I am in,” said Gebremichael, who moved to Boise as a refugee in 2012. “I’m here early to confirm that I am in this race.”

Patrick Bageant, another candidate for Seat 1, also filed his declaration. The seat is open after its two-term incumbent, Lauren McLean, announced she would challenge Mayor David Bieter’s bid for a fifth four-year term. Bieter is already the longest-serving mayor in Boise history.

Boise City Council President Pro Tem Elaine Clegg, who is running for a fifth four-year term in Seat 5, filed her paperwork. So did Debbie Lombard-Bloom, who also filed her declaration Monday seeking Clegg’s seat. Lombard-Bloom, who has worked at Lowes and whose husband owns a construction business, said the morning felt like a celebration for candidates, “full of pomp and circumstance.”

“Today isn’t any bigger than when I got my first dollar from someone who believed in me for this campaign, though,” she said.

Candidates do not have to specify the seats they seek until submitting their declarations of candidacy, but six candidates have told the Idaho Statesman so far that they plan to run for McLean’s seat.

There are four announced candidates for mayor, although only Cortney Nielsen, who is on the board of Central Rim Neighborhood Association and works in sales, filed paperwork as of 10:30 a.m. Monday.

In all, 12 city council candidates so far have submitted forms naming their treasurers, which are required to begin collecting donations for their campaigns.

Other cities in the Treasure Valley will also be having municipal elections this year. Nampa has three city council seats up. Eagle and Meridian, like Boise, have half their council seats plus the mayor’s office up for election.

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Hayley covers local government for the Idaho Statesman with a primary focus on Boise. Previously, she worked for the Salisbury Daily Times, the Hartford Courant, the Denver Post and McClatchy’s D.C. bureau. Hayley graduated from Ohio University with degrees in journalism and political science.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.