This year, Boise voters are deciding who will be mayor for the next four years, whether the city will raise taxes for two years to generate money for open space and water quality protections, and three of six City Council positions.
The council is Boise’s ultimate authority. Its members have the final say on almost all major issues inside its borders, including laws and regulations, tax rates, how to spend taxpayer money and land-use disputes, such as the St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center expansion approved in July.
The mayor votes only to break a tie among council members.
One incumbent, Lauren McLean, is unopposed. Scot Ludwig, who was appointed to the council early this year, is the incumbent for Seat No. 3. His opponent is Adriel Martinez, a 25-year-old Boise State University student and former U.S. Army paratrooper.
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The most contentious race appears to be the one for Seat 5, which Elaine Clegg has held since 2004. Clegg’s challenger is Andy Hawes, an attorney who says he’s basically living on the campaign trail these days.
Here’s a look at the candidates in the contested City Council races:
Family: Wife, Gretchen; two daughters, ages 11 and 12.
Job: Attorney for Western Pacific Timber.
Background: Born in Manhattan, Kan. Came to Boise in 1978. Graduated from Boise High School in 1988 and University of Idaho Law School in 1994.
Relevant experience: Elected commissioner of Idaho State Bar in 2005, served as president of Idaho State Bar in 2008.
Why are you running? “I’m at a point in my career where it was time to answer the bell for public service, and I thought running for Boise City Council would be a great calling.”
Why did you choose to run against Elaine Clegg? “I felt the time was right for someone to bring some new perspective, fresh ideas, new blood. I’m satisfied generally with what the mayor has done over the last few terms. Likewise with Elaine. I just felt that it was a great opportunity to build on what they’ve done.”
What issue will you focus on if you’re elected? “Doing better and doing more in addressing the homeless situation, homeless-related issues. That’s the most urgent (issue) that we’re facing.”
What are your specific ideas? Organize groups and individuals trying to help and get them to pitch in on a unified approach. “The main solution for the homeless issue is to get to the root. And the root is having access to housing that’s affordable, transitional ... and wrap that in with social services.”
Boise can’t do it alone, but should lead, organizing shelters, hospitals, other government agencies, he said. “It’s not just a societal issue. It’s not just a city issue. This is the capital of Idaho, and so this represents the entire state.”
Why should I vote for you and not Elaine Clegg? “I would bring a new perspective to the City Council. New blood. New energy. I think part of it is an opportunity to forge relationships, new approaches. For example, (with Ada County Highway District): I don’t have any prior relationship with them. I know about ACHD. But coming in and establishing new relationships, I don’t have any baggage.”
Family: Husband, Brett; five children, ages 24-35; eight grandchildren, ages 3-9.
Job: Program coordinator for Idaho Smart Growth.
Background: Born and raised in Boise. Graduated from Boise State University, where she played basketball in the 1970s.
Relevant experience: Three four-year terms on the council. Recently elected president of the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations.
What have you learned about campaigning in your three previous campaigns? “Work hard. Run like you could lose, because you always could. Connect with everybody that you think you could connect with.”
If you’re re-elected, what will you focus on? 1. Economic development. Making sure Boise is inviting to startup businesses. Improving local connections for loading and unloading cargo between trains, airplanes and trucks. 2. Public transportation. Since it looks like the state Legislature will never allow a local option tax, Boise and other governments in the Treasure Valley must look for local sources of money to build a top-notch transit system. 3. Water. Ensuring a plentiful supply for businesses and homes. Protecting waterways such as the Boise River and its tributaries, as well as their banks, from degradation and repairing damage when necessary. If done well, private businesses and other groups will be able to take advantage of innovations that arise.
About homelessness in Boise: “For a long time, (Boise has) tried to go it alone. ... That’s not a successful model.” Any path forward on the issue should include permanent, supportive housing where residents can get help such as counseling, treatment for physical and mental health problems, and job training.
“We’re not going to be able to do that for 90 people overnight. But we can start with five people, and if that works, we can scale it up to 30.”
Why should I vote for you instead of Andy Hawes? “I have proven experience, proven leadership. I have a track record of working on these issues as a volunteer before I asked for the privilege of being allowed to represent people. ... I’m not asking people to vote for me because I have been an elected official, but because there’s new ideas on the horizon. I have the proven leadership and experience to actually work on them effectively.”
Job: Political Science major at Boise State University.
Background: Born in Elko, Nev. Lived most his life in the Treasure Valley. Graduated from Nampa High School in 2009. Served four-and-a-half years as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army.
Relevant experience: Worked on Walt Minnick congressional campaign in 2008. Volunteered for several campaigns in Tacoma, Wash. Made calls for Idaho gubernatorial campaign of A.J. Balukoff in 2014.
Issues: Boise needs to do more to promote affordable housing. The city should set up its own homeless shelter and put resources into supportive services for the homeless, some of whom are military veterans. Boise should move to district-based council elections to ensure adequate representation of all neighborhoods.
Family: Wife, Christina; four children, ages 10-18.
Job: Attorney, real estate developer.
Background: Came to Boise in 1979 to play basketball for Boise State University. Graduated from BSU in 1982 and later from the University of Idaho School of Law.
Relevant experience: Nine months on Boise City Council. Serves on the board of directors for the Bishop Kelly Foundation.
Goals if re-elected: Pursue partnerships with public agencies, such as Boise State University, as well as private companies to continue and enhance Downtown development. Encourage private development of city real estate holdings with an eye to revitalizing those areas. Shepherd the rise of BSU as a contributor to the future of the city.