College of Western Idaho error forces trustee candidate off Nov. 8 ballot

Rebecca De Leon
Rebecca De Leon

A Canyon County candidate for College of Western Idaho trustee has had her candidacy rescinded following a mistake by CWI over which trustee zone she lived in.

Rebecca De Leon said the college incorrectly posted her as living in Zone 1, when it was actually Zone 3.

“I am disheartened that after the College of Western Idaho confirmed my candidacy with the Canyon County Clerk’s office on Sept. 1, they informed me on Sept. 7 they would be taking my name off the ballot for the general election due to erroneous information they themselves provided to the public,” De Leon said Friday.

CWI acknowledges the mistake. “We discovered that (De Leon) filed for the wrong zone as a result of precinct information that was available on the College’s website,” the school said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the error was discovered after the filing deadline. We have been informed by the Secretary of State’s Office that there is no action we can take to help rectify the situation.”

De Leon would have faced Skip Smyser, a lobbyist and former state senator, in the election for board member representing Zone 1. It was the one contested race of the three seats up for election on the five-person board on Nov.8. The other candidates are Mary Niland, in Zone 3, which straddles Ada and Canyon counties; and Mark Dunham, in Zone 5, which is in Ada County.

This is the first year that CWI trustee candidates are running from specific zones, under a new state law. Voters in Ada and Canyon counties vote on candidates for all zones.

Bert Glandon, CWI president, said he was “devastated” by the loss of De Leon’s candidacy and called her on Thursday to tell her he wanted her to be a part of the college. He invited her to serve on the College of Western Idaho Foundation. “She was an ideal candidate as a Hispanic woman in Canyon County,” Glandon told the Idaho Statesman. “We feel terrible about what is going on.”

De Leon said she appreciated Glandon’s phone call and will have lunch with him next week to discuss a seat on the foundation board.

De Leon is president of the Idaho Leadership Institute, an all-volunteer nonprofit that helps with research and development in health, policy, education and culture for Latinos and other Idahoans, she said. She is also a volunteer teacher at Latino Future Leaders of Idaho, providing instruction in public speaking, financial literacy and civic engagement.