Boise & Garden City

Council candidates talk business, library, stadium at Boise Young Professionals forum

Candidates for the Boise City Council had an opportunity to show where they differed on the major issues facing the city Wednesday in a forum co-hosted by Boise Young Professionals and the Idaho Statesman.

Ten candidates of the 11 total running for three seats answered questions on business, transportation issues in the Treasure Valley and what the future of Boise should hold.

The candidates all agreed when answering questions on the importance of entrepreneurship and the role of young professionals in the community. Candidates differed, however, when talking about the library and proposed stadium.

Meredith Stead and Jimmy Hallyburton, both running for Seat 3, agreed that they were pro-library but that the city needed to consider all viewpoints on how the city should spend money on the project.

Debbie Lombard-Bloom, running for Seat 5, said she felt like a lot of candidates decided to run for office at all because they felt the community wasn’t able to weigh in.

“We’ve always been asked before, so it’s just concerning to me,” Lombard-Bloom said. “Why weren’t asked this time?”

Council President Pro Tem Elaine Clegg, the only incumbent running to re-win her seat this year, said she felt the current library was too small. The project has been on pause since August, something Clegg said she was thankful for because “it gives us an opportunity going forward to reach out to even more people.” Brady Fuller, also running for Seat 5, said he felt that the issue was not about libraries at all but rather having a community conversation on the importance of a new building and what it should look like.

Candidates for Seat 1 expressed different reasons for all feeling that public outreach on the project should have been better. Patrick Bagent said he supported it but wanted to respect the ballot initiative process. Karen Danley felt the public needed to know much more about the project before it moved forward, and Chris Moeness said many people felt their voices weren’t heard in the library process. Ryan Peck said that while he’s all for public space, he felt the number of people saying they were against it should have led to officials to better build consensus. Brittney Scigliano told the dozens gathered how she would have handled the whole project differently by keeping lines of communications open.

Those speaking were more in tune with each other on the stadium, with almost every candidate saying they felt they couldn’t support the project until they knew more about it. No official business plan has come forward on the project, which candidates said made it difficult to truly understand if the project was in the best interest of the community.

The council candidates also agreed for the most part on what they would do if they were king or queen for just one day. Fuller said he’d buy all the land in the Foothills to prevent future development there; Clegg said she’d enable local option taxation and then run an initiative to use it to pay for transportation, an idea that was met with cheers.

Hallyburton said he’d promote pathways for bicyclists and pedestrians while Moeness said he’d have “10,000 different housing options built so we could get caught up on housing.” Peck said he’d promote all-ages cultural venues (followed by concerts from Radiohead, Coldplay and Beyoncé). Scigliano said she’d follow all those things and pay everyone’s property tax for a year.

The election is Nov. 5.

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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.