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Boise City Council District 1 candidates talk housing, growth, climate

Boise City Hall
Posted at 3:16 PM, Oct 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 13:50:38-04

BOISE, Idaho — For the first time, Boise City Council seats are being chosen by district.

This year districts 1, 3 and 5 are on the ballot this election day on November 2. This comes after the State Legislature passed a law during the 2020 session requiring Idaho cities with more than 100,000 people to elect officials by district rather than citywide.

District 1 is largely made up of west Boise and includes the area in green on the map below.

Boise redistricting map

The candidates running to represent this district are Luci Willits, Laura Metzler and David Jones.

Luci Willits has lived in west Boise for about 20 years and has a background in both government and private sector work. She has been chief of staff at the Idaho State Department of Education, communications director for the Idaho Board of Education and press secretary for Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson.

"We have to ensure that our public safety, police and fire remain well-funded and strong," she said of what she sees as the big issues. "We also need to look at bigger solutions when it comes to transportation."

Another big issue Willits discussed is homelessness.

She said there are different solutions for different people and wants to make sure several solutions are available to Boiseans experiencing homelessness.

Related: 2021 General Election voter guide ahead of Nov. 2

On housing, Willits said free-market principles are the key.

"The reason we have a housing crisis is that people are moving here and there's not enough housing," Willits said. "And we need to ensure that we get supply up while maintaining open space while maintaining livability."

She also said in a candidate forum hosted by the City Club of Boise and the League of Women Voters, "If we would've figured it out, we would've figured it out already."

Willits said she wants to learn from others and see what possible solutions might be.

Willits also said she wants to bring fiscal conservatism to City Council and wants to work with volunteers to bring a Fourth of July parade to Boise.

In the candidate forum, Willits said the biggest challenge facing District 1 is feeling like they're part of Boise.

"People live here, they love it here, but they often feel like they're left out and that their voice isn't heard," she said.

On climate change, Willits said she believes in climate change and thinks there are things the City can do that are green—like the recycling and compost programs— but thinks the cost to the taxpayers needs to be considered.

On the sewer bond on the November ballot in Boise, Willits said she will be voting against the bond. She wants there to be more conversation about the bond before it gets passed.

Luci Willits raw interview

Laura Metzler has lived in west Boise for about 30 years and worked for the United States Postal Service for 30 years in mail distribution and as a Customer Service Analyst and Facility Database Coordinator for the Spokane District which includes all of Idaho and Eastern Washington. Metzler also ran for Idaho State Senate in District 15 in 2016.

"Growth is number one. Protecting our natural resources is another one and feeling safe in this city," Metzler said.

Another big issue Metzler discussed is housing, she said there are two aspects to the housing crisis: homelessness and affordability. On homelessness, she's in favor of a housing-first approach.

"It is important that we put them in a stable and safe environment before supportive services can come in and further help them," Metzler said.

On affordability, Metzler said there are several reasons this is an issue in Boise. She said growth is a factor and people turning their homes into Airbnb's and eliminating housing options, but Metzler said there's an economic piece too.

"We need good-paying jobs, people need to be able to pay their rent," she said.

In the candidate forum she added that it's not an easy answer.

On climate change, Metzler said she thinks the city is on the right course to address climate change and that she wants to continue to address climate change issues.

On the sewer bond, Metzler said she will be voting for it because she thinks the city will be saving money in the long run.

Laura Metzler raw interview