Guest Opinions

Ada Commission candidates speak to issues

TJ Thomson
TJ Thomson

What should Ada County do about the Fairgrounds?

It’s time for a broad public discussion about present and potential use of the Idaho Expo Fairgrounds. While I believe keeping Lady Bird Park in this area is important — due to its value and heavy use by the community — I would like to explore opportunities for additional commercial and economic development (as well as other beneficial uses of the property) in conjunction with the Western Idaho Fair and other popular annual events. These decisions should not be made in a vacuum; rather, close coordination with our citizens and Garden City’s local officials should determine the best possibilities for our community as a whole.

How could the county open up its budget process and get more people involved?

The budgeting process is one of the most important functions of government. It’s where our hard-earned tax dollars are used to best serve the community; thus, it’s critical to know where taxpayers stand on how their money is spent. We can improve community participation in several ways. First, we should expand opportunities for public comment. Providing earlier chances for feedback on proposals would strengthen the process. Furthermore, Ada County should make all budgetary documents readily available and easily accessible online. Presently, it is practically impossible to find the information you need, with no detailed budget provided to the public. The county should also consider a more dynamic approach to engaging the public through social media. More and more people are relying on the platform for information, providing valuable opportunities for the county to gather input via sources people feel comfortable with and visit frequently. Additionally, they should consider an independent public survey to gauge community preferences — something the city of Boise has been doing for some time, harvesting invaluable information about the state of the city and how the services provided are being received. Government functions best when it is responsive to the needs and interests of those it represents. By expanding citizen participation in the decision-making process, we can do a better job representing our constituents. It is incumbent upon us to make this process accessible and meaningful to all.

Should cities in the county be responsible for providing court facilities?

Our courthouse is meant to serve all Ada County residents equally. If space issues exist that consolidated courtrooms did not address, a countywide solution should be developed. It is of great concern that the county would require some citizens to pay more than others based on where they live; it is not only unfair, it is fiscally irresponsible. As your commissioner, I will represent ALL county taxpayers. Should this issue continue to escalate, with some cities forced to fund their own courtrooms, the result will be millions in unnecessary taxpayer costs. We must work together to find the answer. I will work with my fellow commissioners to unify our court system, quash costly legal battles, repair fractured relationships with our cities, and make the way we fund our justice system fair to all citizens.

TJ Thomson, presently a member of the Boise City Council, is the Democrat candidate for District 2 Ada County Commissioner.