West Ada

This former foe of Meridian Mayor Tammy de Weerd is running to replace her

This story was updated at 3:25 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21.

Six-term state Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, announced Tuesday that he will run to become the next mayor of Meridian.

Palmer, 54, has served as a Republican member of the Idaho House of Representatives since 2008. He served as chair of the transportation and defense committee, and was a member of the business and state affairs committees. In the House, he has worked on transportation funding issues.

One of Palmer’s four children, Ty Palmer, was elected to the Meridian City Council in 2015. He has previously said that he will not run for a second term.

Meridian Mayor Tammy de Weerd announced during her State of the City address in February that she would not run for a fifth term this November. Her retirement has cleared a path for new candidates to emerge.

De Weerd’s chief of staff Robert Simison has announced that he will run to succeed her. Already, he has earned the endorsement of De Weerd, as well as the support of prominent Meridian real estate developers like Tommy Ahlquist and David Turnbull.

City Councilwoman Anne Little Roberts announced in February that she will run, too. City Councilwoman Genesis Milam has said that she will support Little Roberts.

Palmer in the past clashed with De Weerd. In 2012, he battled the city of Meridian over whether he had violated city zoning laws by living in the back of his consignment furniture business, the Associated Press reported. The business is Cherry’s Consignment, 1524 N. Meridian Road.

At the time, he speculated that De Weerd was behind the zoning enforcement.

“She despises the ground I walk on,” Palmer told the AP then. “I’m a small-business guy trying to get by, and I feel like the government’s just running over me.”

De Weerd called Palmer’s allegations baseless then.

Today, Palmer’s words for De Weerd carry less bite.

“I’m happy with Meridian,” Palmer said. “She’s done a good job. We have differences of opinion on management style.”

But he said that the city does need to place a renewed focus on some of the issues that have come with its growth.

“We’re at a tipping point with the transportation issue,” he said. “Whoever the next mayor is needs to make sure more funding be put into transportation.”

He said his relationships in the Legislature, and with people in the Idaho Transportation Department and the Ada County Highway District would benefit Meridian.

If elected mayor, he said he might step down from the Legislature.

“Right now, I’m a legislator,” he said. “Meridian is a big city. It’d be hard to spend much time being a legislator and running the city.”

In 2008, Palmer ran for a seat as state representative, using his negative experiences with regulators like the city and highway district as fodder along the campaign trail. He won against longtime City Councilman Keith Bird by 46 votes in the primary.

He represents District 20, which is bordered roughly by by Chinden Boulevard to the north, Cloverdale Road to the east, Interstate 84 to the south and Ten Mile Road to the west.

In 2011, then-House Speaker Lawerence Denney asked Palmer to chair the Transportation Committee. Palmer has consistently opposed new state debt and Medicaid expansion.

Palmer has positioned himself in the Legislature as a staunch conservative. He said he could adapt his message for the nonpartisan mayoral election. “I can be nonpartisan, too,” he said. “I understand that it’s two different jobs, that it’s completely different policy.”

Ty Palmer, who has at times gone to bat against De Weerd’s during his time on the council, said he will support his father in the mayoral election.

Palmer previously repaired engines and installed central vacuum cleaners, the Statesman has previously reported.

Paperwork filed Thursday, May 9, with the city established a campaign committee for Palmer that will now be allowed to collect donations.

That paperwork was filed by Brett McKenna, vice president of operations at Decalcomania, a decal manufacturer in Meridian. Jeff C. Black of Meridian is treasurer of the committee, according to the filing.

Candidates can file to be on the November ballot from Aug. 26 to Sept. 6.

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Kate reports on West Ada and Canyon County for the Idaho Statesman. She previously wrote for the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Center for Investigative Reporting and the Providence Business News. She has been published in The Atlantic and BuzzFeed News. Kate graduated from Brown University with a degree in urban studies.
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