‘A different culture’: Democrat Commissioner Kendra Kenyon to step down, cites growing hostility

Ada County Commissioner Kendra Kenyon
Posted at 4:45 PM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-23 18:45:33-05

This article was originally published by Margaret Carmel in BoiseDev.

The Ada County Commission’s lone Democrat on the will not seek a second term.

Commissioner Kendra Kenyon, a Democrat representing Kuna and southern Ada County, is stepping down at the end of the year. She cited the growing hostility she and other elected officials faced since COVID-19 came to Idaho as one of the primary reasons for leaving the post. Kenyon said while she is proud of what she’s accomplished since she was elected in 2018, she said it’s now “a different time, a different culture” than when she took office.

She said while she has not had “angry mobs” protesting at her home like former Commissioner Diana Lachiondo or had to hire a bodyguard due to threats, Kenyon said she took verbal abuse and threats from supporters of Doug Traubel for Sheriff and Dr. Ryan Cole for a seat on Central District Health.

“Those people showed up and they got in my face and I feel lucky I haven’t had the ominous feeling of people showing up with assault rifles in your yard, but it’s been hard,” Kenyon said. “The courthouse administrative offices have changed so much over the past years. Now, this last summer we had protesters all the time this summer in front of the building and those protesters were carrying assault weapons and it doesn’t feel fun or safe coming to work with that type of situation going on.”

Difficult relationship with fellow commissioner

Although she disagrees with Republican Commissioner Rod Beck on many topics, Kenyon praised him for being easy to work with while they tried to find common ground. But, she said working with Republican Commissioner Ryan Davidson was a struggle for her.

Ammon Bundy’s People’s Rights network, which protested Lachiondo’s home after he voted in support of COVID-19 restrictions, supported Davidson when he was elected in 2020. Some supporters of Davidson’s also heavily favored Doug Traubel, who Kenyon called “racist, sexist and anti-semitic, for Sheriff.

“It’s hard to work side by side with somebody who has been affiliated with the same people who have threatened Commisioner Lachiondo’s children in her own home and some of the other horrible things in our community,” Kenyon said. “It doesn’t make for a very healthy feeling environment for me.”

Davidsondeclined to support Matt Clifford for Sheriff last year but did not indicate what other candidate of the three he would prefer instead.

New coroner facility, tax cuts, Expo Idaho

Kenyon said she will leave the county proud of several projects she worked on.

In the past three years, Kenyon said she is proud of her work to move Ada County toward being 100% powered by renewable energy by 2035, increased funding for the Greenbelt, her support for a multi-million property tax cut in 2021, and the hiring of Steve Rutherford as Chief Operating Officer for the county. Rutherford is trained in government operations and provides management support of the 2,000 employees who work for Ada County.

“With boards that come and go and members who are not necessarily educated or have any experience running an organization were put in direct management supervision over these departments and it wasn’t good,” Kenyon said. “We changed that, I changed that and I’m super excited about that.”

Kenyon also helped shepherd the county’s work on forming a Citizens Advisory Committee to give input on the future of Expo Idaho siteas the county works to revitalize the site. She also helped form an advisory committee on elected official compensation so elected officials have guidance from the community setting their own salaries and voted to put two pieces of land into a conservation easement to preserve open space.

Improvements to Ada County’s Juvenile justice center, the transition center for those leaving incarceration, and funding improvements to Barber Park were also among Kenyon’s proud moments. She also worked on the new coroner facility set to open in Meridian by the end of 2023.