City Government

Tradition Of Apathy In Boise Council Races

Boise’s City Council election is barely two months away and to our knowledge no one has announced a challenge to the incumbents and anyone shy of Cecil Andrus would have a difficult time mounting a credible challenge at this late hour.

Councilors TJ Thomson, Ben Quintana and Maryanne Jordan are all facing reelection–and presumably they will all run. At this point they are unopposed.

Even the GUARDIAN is tired of the same old story each election cycle, but once again we will state that elections with no opposition are not the “sign of voter approval” as is often claimed by candidates. It is a sign of voter apathy. Fact is, very few people turn out for local elections and even fewer have a clue what goes on in city government.

There is certainly harmony among the councilors and Mayor Dave Bieter, whom we affectionately refer to as “Team Dave.” To our knowledge the council has seldom if ever turned down any proposals from Team Dave and have repeatedly been onboard for assorted consultant, public relations, and lobbying contracts which cost thousands upon thousands of dollars–aimed at garnering public support of everything from increased local taxes to street cars and ball parks.

Here are some of our past efforts at finding interest in our local elections:

September 23, 2005 ⋅ Post a comment
With the September 30 filing deadline only four days away, Boise’s November 8 City Council election is the subject of intense disinterest by potential candidates.

So far only Jim Tibbs has announced a run against an incumbent. He is challenging Councilor Jerome Mapp. No one else has stepped forward to run against either Vern Bisterfeldt or Maryanne Jordan.

The GUARDIAN offers up some basic questions and even provides answers to the media, candidates and the public in an effort to generate interest in the upcoming City Council election.

Here are a few basics everyone should know:
–What is Boise’s population–about 220,00. Ada and Canyon Countys 510,000.
–How many registered voters in the city?–about 109,000.
–How much is annual Boise City Budget?—$390 million citywide, $132 million general fund (expenditures in FY2006).
–How many total city employees?—1,493.
–How many sworn police officers?–267 current, 286 authorized. Currently offering $5,000 signing bonus for experienced cops.
–What is approximate police annual budget?—$38.8 million (FY2006).
–What is approximate fire annual budget–$30.9 million (FY2006).
–What percentage of total budget is police and fire?–53%.
–What is term of office for mayor or council?—4 yrs.
–How many cops drive city cars to and from work?—125.
–How much has the Foothills Committee spent for land?–$5.7 million out of the $10 million raised in the serial levy election.
–How many buses in city fleet and who owns them?—45, Valley Regional Transit
–How many fire stations do we have?—15.

-How many days a week do cops work?–4 days, 10 hrs…takes 20% more
staff than 5 days x8.
–Who pays to maintain median strips on streets? (Capitol, Vista, Federal Way Broadway, Harrison)–Parks Dept.
–Who pays to maintain grass along connector?–Parks.

Here are a few questions for every candidate:

–Favor or oppose having judges instead of voters approve long term debt projects?
–Favor or oppose secret “executive sessions” for land acquisition?
–Should members of city boards and commissions be required to live within the city limits?
–Favor or oppose annexation without vote of those concerned?
–Who should provide homeless shelters?

To call the upcoming Boise City election LACKLUSTER is an understatement. With the exception of the Bieter-Tibbs yawner for mayor, there is no interest…from the mainstream, the candidates, or the city officials.

The campaign payoff (contribution) page is difficult to find, but with enough clicks we found PDF files among seven years of candidates and reports. Bieter has been paid $227,000 so far for his stealth campaign. Tibbs take was a few bucks over $50,000.

The official City Clerk web site says it all with the blank list of candidate profiles. Even the candidates themselves failed to offer information or photos.

The GUARDIAN is no better. To us the election looks like a done deal and the sad thing is all the incumbents will claim people are satisfied with their performances…or fed up and tired. We would love to be surprised, but this turnout may be the lowest in memory.

FROM 2009
We hate to dis any of the candidates for Boise City Council, but this race may set a record for non-interest of voters and the media.

We have said it before, but the chances of anyone beating an incumbent are slim to none and the one seat being vacated by Jim Tibbs is pretty much filled by TJ Thomson. The former Obama organizer has done a great job of getting endorsements from every democrat in town, the mayor, and most, if not all of the council. We predict “TJ” will be as much of a recognized trademark as “Vern.”

The campaign season lasts less than two months so feel free to put some of these folks on the hot seat with specific position questions. We can assume that ALL are for “smart growth” of some sort, clean air, family, neighborhoods, jobs, some sort of public transit, police and fire departments, and playing nice with other local government.

We need to know how they stand on:
–Allowing citizens to vote on long term debt
–Dave Bieter’s trolley folly
–Spending city taxes on AMTRAK
–Boise Fire Dept. ambulance plans
–Annexation without approval of those being annexed
–Police and/or fire commission of citizens like airport, parks, library boards
–Several HUNDRED “take home cars” funded by taxpayers for city workers (mostly coppers).
–Land speculation by the city
–”Economic development” expenses to lure more people to Boise
–Relationship with the special interest lobbying group at Chamber of Commerce
–Number and duties of city PAID LOBBYISTS who try to influence lawmakers
–CCDC urban renewal agency

July 20, 2011 ⋅ Post a comment
When Chamber of Commerce cheerleader Ben Quintana announced his bid for the Boise City Council, but refused to name which seat he would seek, the GUARDIAN predicted the fix was in.

Sadly, we were correct. Councilor Alan Shealy sent a letter to his fellow Councilors informing them he would not run for re election. That means with little more than a month before the filing deadline, there are NO CONTESTED seats for the Boise City City Council or office of Mayor.

Four council seats are up for election this fall. Lauren McLean will run to finish the two years remaining of Vern Bisterfeldt’s term. The four-year terms for Council members Shealy, David Eberle and Elaine Clegg are up for election this November, as is Mayor Dave Bieter’s.

FROM CITY CLERK–The Declaration of Candidacy period is Monday, August 29, 2011 8:00 a.m. thru Friday, September 9, 2011 5:00 p.m. The Declaration of Candidacy form must be turned into the Boise City Clerk’s Office located at 150 N. Capitol Blvd. If the candidate wishes to submit the declaration of candidacy signed by not less than five (5) registered qualified electors, the form must first be verified by the Ada County Elections office located at 400 N. Benjamin Lane prior to submittal at the Boise City Clerk’s Office. If the candidate wishes to pay the non-refundable filing fee of forty dollars ($40) then the form is just submitted at the Boise City Clerk’s Office.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. David B. Hall
    Aug 19, 2013, 3:41 pm

    I would have ran for one of these seats but I have bigger fish to fry with running for Governor of Idaho. I wish others were as determined as I am about involving themselves in the process, otherwise we are left with unopposed dictatorships.

  2. Nan e mouse
    Aug 19, 2013, 5:19 pm

    David. You will have a better chance of winning a council seat. You have no chance of being governor and I am not saying that out of meanness – it’s just a fact.

    Cutting your teeth on a lesser seat would give you some experience and a platform that the media would cover. It’s not too late to change your mind.

  3. David B. Hall
    Aug 20, 2013, 12:38 am

    Nan, if people stuck to starting small, we would never have made it out of the cave. I ran a clean campaign against Dave Bieter in the last mayoral election and without spending a single cent, I took 26% of the votes tallied.

    I have no illusions about my home State of Idaho, nor about how the people here tend to vote (or in most cases, not) I am more interested in gaining a platform to bring an active and honest dialog to those who are willing to participate. Keep in mind, just like this article and its author are trying to point out the intolerant display of apathetic voters in almost every election cycle, not just locally but State wide. Idahoans overall aren’t active in their system of government.

    A city counsel seat isn’t a place for a game changer, like myself. That was why I ran for mayor instead of a city counsel seat and why I am running for Governor. There are those that say, “Start small. Take little bites. Work your way up to it.

    Often it is hard for me to hear those people very well, as I am always too far out ahead, taking the big chances while they stand behind, too timid to have joined me in taking the leaps of faith and the steps of giants.

  4. chicago sam
    Aug 20, 2013, 8:33 am

    Mr. Hall It does little good to have great ideas much like the preacher on the street corner talking to people passing by. You need a congregation to get something done. There are other elections in the Treasure Valley where a cup of reality would be a better approach. I am reminded that there are two kinds of people who won’t change their mind–fools and dead men. It is really unbelievable that there are not more people in Boise at least willing to put their name on the ballot.

  5. David,
    I appreciate your comments. You can be assured that you will not get my vote. You proved to me that you are more interested in running for your own benefit and self satisfaction. Instead of starting “small”, learning to listen to the people and understanding what it takes to win an election. In building your track record as a perpetual candidate you will probably gain a reputation of not being a serious candidate. For myself I’ll vote for the candidate that is willing to listen over the one that already has all the answers.

  6. David B. Hall for president!!!

    (Yeah, I voted for Alf Landon 5 or 6 times.)

    I agree with the Guardian – there’s plenty of apathy. PLUS – Mr. Hall makes a good point. A lowly city councilor may not be a “game changer.” They’re not out there making policy speeches, delivering the “State of the ___ Address,” kissing babies, cutting ribbons, flying with the Blue Angels, etc. Based on my VERY limited exposure, it’s a lot of reviewing applications, digging deep into very tedious policy details, etc., etc., most of the time. Obviously the personal glory or money isn’t enough reward – you have to have a love and concern for the community.

    Another possible reward is increased name recognition, when you decide you want to step up to the next level. That motivates a lot of candidates, I’m sure.

    If people are too apathetic to take 15 minutes to vote on Election Day, it’s certainly no wonder that it’s hard to find quality candidates to make things “interesting.”

    My 2 cents.

  7. David B. Hall
    Aug 20, 2013, 11:37 am

    Arebel You wouldn’t like me anyway, I think for myself without party stings. You seem to think you know all about me, which is why Idaho elections are such a ruin, you want a show-horse, someone that makes ya feel good about yourself. That is why you insist on career politicians and why the US is left waning as a 3rd world nation.

    Had you came to any of my forums when running for Mayor, you would know better than to assume you know about my politics or what I bring to the table, and here is where I’m going to be insulting (Unlike all the other kissyourass candidates.)

    I have fought against myopic minds like your own for a great portion of my life. You are the type to be lead by the nose just because of some pretty banner from a well recognized name. You don’t want a candidate, you want a popularity contest, so that you’ll feel good about who you’ve voted for because they are the “Right guy” the “Best man” or so the media and your party told you so. But lets really look at all these wonderful candidates y’all have elected in and what they’ve done for this state and its people.

    We are still dead last in just about every category you can fine in measuring States against one another. Last for education, last for public services, last for just about any topic you’d like. And you and those like you are Okay with that, as you’ve continued to place people into these offices who’s motives are purely selfish, leaving this great state to languish in the 1950’s.

    I’m here to put an end to the old way, like me or not. I’m not here to win a popularity contest. I’m here to fix this State and help “All” its citizens meet their highest potential. And had you really known me, you would know I am a very unselfish person without much ego to get in the way.

    EDITOR NOTE–To David and others. This post is about a city election, not about a futile attempt to run for Gov. Future off topic comments will not be posted.

  8. David. You can’t be a game changer if you’re never in the game.

    Again, start smaller, get some things done, get your name known. Or……..follow a pipe dream and stay unelected.

  9. David B. Hall
    Aug 20, 2013, 12:37 pm

    Futile? Thanks mate.
    Where were you when I ran for mayor?
    You know what, I think I will put my hat in the mix, if I am eligible. Might be a good way to let people get to know me, before I “waste my time” running for Governor.
    Thanks Ed. for those wonderful words of encouragement.

    EDITOR NOTE–David, we offer space to any and all candidates to provide a profile and comment on issues. The GUARDIAN has refrained from endorsing candidates. Also, our reference to “futile” was honest realism, not a comment on your ability. If you can win a city council seat, more power to you. You are not too late to file, but you may be about six months late to raise funds. Welcome aboard mate!

  10. I hope candidates will emerge against all incumbents. It is possible to file at the last minute and beat an incumbent – it’s been done! And there will e plenty of us who will help the challengers! And that includes help with fundraising.

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