SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
The Tuesday Boise school bond election passed with 70% of the voters saying “yes” to 30 years of taxes for $94 million worth of new buildings and improvements. The campaign provided some interesting insights into political strategy.
Former legislators Jim Auld and Rod Beck made the media talk show circuit calling for fiscal restraint and giving their assessment of school needs after making “fact finding” visits at some of the schools. The pair represented their “Ada County Property Owners Association.”
School District officials refused to appear with the Property Owners at any venues. The school bond supporters then enlisted about 20 former legislators of their own to appear for a photo op at the aged Franklin School.
When Auld and Beck presented “facts” gleaned from newspaper interviews with the school superintendent, the school spokesman called the information “lies and misrepresentations.”
The District never did offer any corrections or clarifications.
In a move the GUARDIAN has not previously seen, the bond supporters sold their cause as “Neighborhood Reinvestment,” that would make the older areas of Boise more appealing to rich young parents. Who could vote against a neighborhood clean up?
The schools offered the bond at “no increase in the tax rate.” Who could vote against $94 million that wouldn’t raise taxes?
They offered recreation centers–facilities Boise residents cited in a Park Department survey as a top priority. Voters turned down a library bond six weeks ago that included rec centers.
The school plan calls for combining some schools and developing the vacant sites into high density residential areas with an appeal to young married couples of child bearing age. They picked up support of the city council, religious groups, and housing contractors with that one.
When the Property Owners ran radio ads against the bond, the supporters countered with “fact sheets” distributed in a mass mailing. Some school “friends”–parent groups–sent material home with the kids. Complaints of dragging kids into a political race came across as “mean spirited”.
In a move borrowed from Meridian Schools, Boise District leaders mandated that every school sponsor some type of event on election day–and evening for most– to attract voters (read that GRATEFUL PARENTS) to the schools which were all designated polling places.
To their credit, Auld and Beck conducted themselves in a civil manner at all times, but with a coalition as broad as the one they faced, the money they spent would have been better spent on hearing aid stock. Their anti-tax message fell on DEAF EARS.
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