Experience is more than just familiarity with the job, or a willingness to serve in the public eye, or knowing what to expect in elective office. Veterans know the issues and where to go to make change and build partnerships. They have seen what’s failed and succeeded in the past. They learn to tell who talks a good game and who delivers. Experience is not the only quality we look for in candidates, but it’s one we consider first among equals.
With three openings for Boise City Council, voters on Nov. 7 have a chance to elect council members with valuable and varied experience. Voters can select an old hand, return an incumbent and draft a newcomer with a solid record of civic involvement.
For those reasons, we urge votes for Frank Walker for Seat 2, TJ Thomson for Seat 4 and Holli Woodings for Seat 6.
Boise has six council members and a mayor, who manages the city but who votes only to break a tie. When new council members take office in January, they will earn $24,913. Council members run for at-large seats and are elected by all city voters.
[VIDEO: Scroll to the end to see the candidates in their own words.]
Seat 2: Frank Walker
Five candidates filed to replace the departing Ben Quintana, and several offer intriguing personal stories and political perspectives.
Lisa Sanchez would speak for an under-represented demographic: people who often struggle to make ends meet. She has a passion for social issues and an empathy for renters and wage earners who worry about being able to afford safe neighborhoods. She has an admirable volunteer record, and has worked as a civil rights investigator with the Idaho Human Rights Commission and now with the Idaho Volunteer Lawyer Program. She took a clear stance against using city resources to advocate for an F-35 mission. But her passion and earnestness can’t compete with the better-qualified Walker. We urge her to use her enthusiasm on a city committee, develop a city-specific background and then run again.
Of all the city candidates, Logan Kimball promises the greatest skepticism on what he sees as questionable city spending: Specifically, he opposes the proposed Downtown circulator bus/trolley; city government investment in a Downtown sports stadium; and the buffered Capitol Boulevard bike lane. He argues that discretionary dollars should go to public safety. We like his skepticism. But beyond a couple specifics, he was not broadly familiar with city issues. And while anyone can criticize single projects, it’s hard to look at Boise over the past decade and argue the mayor and council investment in the community has been anything but a roaring success.
Rachel Misnick, an excise tax auditor, while clearly smart and informed on tax matters, didn’t have the depth or familiarity with municipal issues, nor did Paul Fortin.
Of all the candidates for the three Boise seats, Walker showed the best command of issues, creative problem-solving and willingness to take a stand. He backs the Boise stadium and the F-35 mission. Walker understands the nuances of affordable housing, transportation and urban renewal. He was an Ada County commissioner in the late 1990s and is deeply familiar with municipal issues, including service on a long list of entities such as the Boise Airport Commission.
Seat 4: TJ Thomson
Three candidates — Naomi Johnson, Crispin Gravatt and Nicolas Way — are challenging Councilman Thomson, who has served since 2010.
An internal auditor with the government and now Idaho Power, Thomson has shown a dedication to improving child care, backs bus expansion instead of a Downtown trolley, and advocates an express lane for State Street. He’s an Air Force veteran who advocates the F-35 mission for Boise’s Gowen Field. He acknowledges that city officials failed to oversee collecting the voter-approved open space levy money — a “big black eye” for a councilman who prides himself on watchdogging city spending, and a lesson Thomson promises to have learned from.
None of his challengers made a case for rejecting the incumbent. Johnson is a social worker with a history of volunteerism and a commitment to helping the homeless and speaks with knowledge about homeless and housing issues. We urge her to serve on a city board or committee that would put city experience on her resume.
Seat 6: Holli Woodings
Four candidates want to replace departing Councilwoman Maryanne Jordan. Holli Woodings made her mark as a smart, inclusive lawmaker representing Boise in House District 19, and we endorsed her in 2014 as a candidate for Idaho secretary of state who advocated transparency and ethics. In addition to state service, she was a neighborhood association leader who participated in city committees drafting growth and urban farming ordinances. Her priorities are improving the bus system and boosting affordable and workforce housing around the city.
Our one concern is Woodings’ stance on the F-35, which she said is not a decision for the City Council to weigh in on. But the military mission at Gowen Field is a major factor in the future of the city-owned Boise Airport, and we believe the city and the council have to be engaged in such decisions.
The other Seat 6 candidates are Caleb Hansen, Michelle Doane and Nicholas Jones. Hansen has political experience from the Bernie Sanders campaign, but his familiarity with city issues is limited, weaknesses that also limit the candidacies of Doane and Jones. None have the combination of skills and background that make Woodings a clear choice for Boise.
Unsigned editorials represent the opinion of the Statesman Editorial Board.