Boise lawmaker aims at changing city council elections
A Boise lawmaker says he believes some voters in Idaho city council elections are being left out of the process because, right now -- there's no requirement for every neighborhood to have a representative on the councils. Video by IdahoOnYourSide.comvideo
A Boise lawmaker says he believes some voters in Idaho city council elections are being left out of the process because, right now -- there's no requirement for every neighborhood to have a representative on the councils.
"The people that I've talked to, indicate that they feel like they don't have a lot of representation on city councils,” Rep. Lynn Luker (R-Boise) says. “Not just Boise. Other places, too. But, primarily, my constituents are from Boise and Meridian."
Luker is trying to change that, by requiring cities with 50,000 people or more to create districts for city council people, and elect a representative from each of them.
That means the bill will only hit five cities in the state: Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Idaho Falls and Pocatello.
"There aren't many cities in this state that this would affect,” says Boise City Councilwoman Lauren McLean. “And, the larger cities have been operating really well with city-wide councils that look collectively at the city as a whole."
McLean says she believes the cities are actually better-represented under the current format.
"When you're charged with representing, in my case, 270,000 people, I'm not going to think about the 30,000 people that I live closest to, downtown. But, I think about everybody," she says.
Luker says, there are other options for changes -- including allowing whole cities to vote on each council member, but still creating districts.
"Everyone would still have the opportunity to vote on all of the council representatives, but they would come from specific districts," he says of one proposal.
That's something McLean says, should be up to the cities to decide for themselves.
"From a local control perspective, I think it makes the most sense that cities and their residents make the decision on how they're best governed," she says.
In any case, this discussion won't end this year. The 2013 session is likely going to end soon, and Luker says he expects to bring the idea back in 2014 -- a year before four Boise city councilors go up for re-election