As proud Boiseans, one a former City Council president and one a current council member, we share serious concerns with a recent column by Bob Kustra calling for change in city leadership. Most disturbing is the assertion that “it’s time for council members to be free of intimidation and repercussions for speaking out honestly and forthrightly on mayoral proposals.” We are here to tell you that this is patently false.
We have had front-row seats to Mayor Dave Bieter’s collaborative leadership. As businesswomen, we view the product of our city as delivering the highest level of service to our residents every day. Initiatives of the city are not ramrodded through by the mayor and his staff – they are strategically considered in an ongoing planning process that involves the council, public input and staff expertise. Regular citizen surveys and the utilization of the Boise State Public Policy Survey add to the input and analysis. And believe us, there is no shortage of debate and disagreement among the mayor and council members. Initiatives brought forward by members receive support from the mayor and staff to gather the information necessary to make good decisions. What makes this successful for Boise is the ability to discuss, decide and move forward to the next challenge.
This collaborative model has resulted in tremendous improvements in the quality of life in Boise. New Path and Valor Pointe provide housing for the chronically homeless and homeless veterans. The Pre-K initiative on the Bench has provided preschool for children who might not otherwise have had that opportunity. Three community centers were built on the Bench in collaboration with the school district, and our Foothills and open spaces are being protected. Recycling has been expanded, Boiseans can now compost and the geothermal system has been expanded, most importantly across the river to Boise State.
These things don’t happen through “intimidation and repercussions.” They happen and will continue to happen through good leadership. And they lead to more good initiatives. The recent ban on vaping in parks, renaming open space to honor Boise’s original inhabitants and expansion of recreation programs are just a few examples.
Character counts in public service, and our experience in many sectors confirms the character that Mayor Bieter brings to his leadership of the city. He was elected to clean up City Hall, and that’s exactly what he did. He established an ethics commission and Saturday office hours, and is constantly visiting all parts of the city to hear directly from citizens. These aren’t things he just does during an election year; they are the road map he follows every day.
Kustra also stated that “the recent surge of residents from out of state changes the complexion of the city.” The Boise they chose is the Boise that embraces refugees, new businesses and retirees. The Boise they chose is strong, vibrant and well-positioned for the future. The Boise they chose has leadership that is unparalleled and definitely worth keeping.
Holli Woodings is a City Council member and former Idaho state representative. Maryanne Jordan is a state senator and former City Council president.