An effort to unseat Star Mayor Chad Bell and City Councilman Kevin Nielsen failed convincingly Tuesday night in a huge victory for Bell’s administration and a blow to residents who oppose high-density housing projects in the city.
Former City Councilman Gary Smith, who was a major force behind the recall effort, heavily criticized Bell, Nielsen and others at the city for supporting projects such as Crystal Springs, a proposed 196-unit apartment project southwest of the corner of Idaho 44 and Idaho 16.
On April 4, Nielsen voted to approve the Crystal Springs plan as it stood. Bell broke a 2-2 tie among council members, approving the project at the same meeting. Bell told the Idaho Statesman in August that he believes Star needs more diversity of housing, which means approving projects like Crystal Springs and Moon Valley, an affordable-housing apartment project located south of Idaho 44.
Incumbent Councilman Richard Lockett, who voted against the Crystal Springs proposal, lost his seat to Michael Keyes, an ally of Bell and Nielsen. Fellow incumbent David Hershey, who voted in favor of Crystal Springs, held his seat in convincing fashion.