Two candidates face off in College of Western Idaho trustee election

Rebecca De Leon
Rebecca De Leon

An Idaho lobbyist and former state senator and a communications director for a nonprofit are running against each other for election to the College of Western Idaho Board of Trustees from Canyon County.

Ex-legislator Skip Smyser will face Rebecca De Leon, communications and marketing coordinator for National Latin@ Network, which deals with sexual assault and domestic violence issues in the Latino community. The organization is part of the national nonprofit Casa de Esperanza.

Smyser and De Leon are running for the open Zone 1 seat. Incumbent candidates Mary Niland and Mark Dunham face no opposition.

Idaho lawmakers have divided trustee races into five zones. Zone 1 takes in most of Canyon County. Niland is in Zone 3, which straddles the Ada-Canyon county line; Dunham is in Zone 5, which is in Ada County.

The election is Nov. 8. Winners will serve four-year terms. Despite the zones, all voters in Ada and Canyon counties vote for candidates in all zones.

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, she said in a release.

“The expertise I bring to the table is imperative and meaningful for the development of higher education in the Treasure Valley,” De Leon said.

Smyser served as campaign finance chairman for the push to create the community college with a vote from Ada and Canyon county residents in 2007.

The college has “opened doors for thousands of young people to go back and further their education,” Smyser said. “I believe strongly in the value of the College of Western Idaho, which is why I worked so hard to help establish it in 2007.”