Boise & Garden City

Sven Berg: Maryanne Jordan to give up Boise City Council presidency

Boise City Council member Maryanne Jordan, left, talks Feb. 6, 2013, during a panel discussion on the “Add the Words” campaign.
Boise City Council member Maryanne Jordan, left, talks Feb. 6, 2013, during a panel discussion on the “Add the Words” campaign.

After talking to Maryanne Jordan last night about the duties of a City Council president, I have one big question: Who would want this job?

Mostly, the public sees the council president as the person who chairs meetings whenever the mayor is absent. But Jordan, who’s been City Council president since 2010 and from 2005-2006, said most of the job is administrative.

Once a week, she and the Council pro tem (a position currently held by Elaine Clegg) meet with city staff to work out kinks in the agenda for that week’s council meeting.

Also once a week, she reviews every check from a city account that pays a city bill. If there are anomalies or anything unexplained or unexpected, she talks to staff to get specifics.

She and the pro tem regularly communicate with city staff to review city business items, such as proposed zoning changes, budget issues and other developments, that are likely to come before the council before long.

She helps organize council appearances at various events, such as groundbreaking ceremonies and school activities.

“It’s what keeps the train on the tracks,” Jordan said after the council’s Tuesday meeting. “It gives you a good insight on how the city functions day-to-day.”

OK, that’s interesting — kind of. But it sure sounds like a lot of extra work. Oh, and for no extra money.

Being a council member is enough work already. I’m not sure how many people realize just how tedious it is. There’s lots and lots of reading of really dull stuff. It’s a serious time commitment that eats into your personal and, sometimes, professional life.

So who would want to be president?

Councilman T.J. Thomson said he doesn’t. Councilman Ben Quintana said he doesn’t either, at least not right now.

“I would love to serve in this role one day, but not at this time,” Quintana said in a text message.

He went on to explain that his life is busy enough as it is with a full-time job, a baby on the way, council responsibilities and commitments to volunteer boards.

Clegg said she is interested in the job. Lauren McLean said she might be.

“It would be an honor to serve in this role, but it’s early and I’m just starting to have conversations with my family and colleagues,” McLean said in a text message. “I’m inspired by Maryanne’s record of service to our city; hers are big shoes to fill.”

No word yet from Scot Ludwig, the newest council member who just won election last week.

Jordan said she’ll step down from the council presidency in January.

She said her term, which ends in two years, will be her last. She was appointed a state senator early this year, filling the position of Elliot Werk, who resigned Feb. 7 to join the Idaho State Tax Commission. Jordan said she’ll run for election to that position in 2016.