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 one includes the North End and everywhere in purple on the map below.
The candidates running to represent this district are the incumbent, Lisa Sánchez, Greg MacMillan, Nicholas Domeny, and Maria Santa-Cruz Cernick.
Sánchez was elected to Boise City Council in 2017. She's been vocal on issues affecting Boise renters and plans to continue to advocate for this group if re-elected.
During her first term, she worked to pass the Rental Application Fee Ordinance. This ordinance outlines criteria for rental applications aimed at creating more transparency in the assessment and processing of rental application fees and to help renters better manage these fees, according to the City of Boise.
"I've been able—over the past 30 years of living in Boise—to forge partnerships with community members who have been key to helping us get this type of legislation moved forward and also providing them an opportunity to start to build those relationships with the City because I think we need more people, I can't be the only one," she said.
Sánchez also said communication with the community is important, "What I have observed for a myriad of issues that we face in the City of Boise—we need to involve our community members."
Sánchez said another priority of hers is to bring attention to the "missing middle."
"These are folks who, they did all the right things. They went to college, they've pursued professional careers, but one thing goes wrong and it can completely disrupt somebody's ability to have a thriving life," she said. "We need to create space for folks to speak for themselves and to be a part of the solution."
As our media partners at the Idaho Statesman reported, Sánchez faced a recall attempt the summer of 2020 after writing an open letter on Facebook to the parents of a man suspected of firing a gun at a Black Lives Matter protest at the Idaho Capitol. The attempt failed when the organizers suspended their campaign in September of 2020.
"As many people as expressed discomfort with the way I expressed myself, I'd say there was an equal number of people who reached out and said thank you because they felt the same way, but they were afraid to speak up," Sánchez said.
You can view the full interview with Sánchez below.
Nicholas Domeny is a Boise small business owner and member of the US Army Reserve.
He said one of the top issues in Boise right now is housing and he disagrees with where new developments are being built.
"We need to start building the infrastructure outwards, plan on building everything out there and then move everything inward and making sure that we're not just throwing things randomly at a board and be like, "Well I guess this works or this fits,'" Domeny said.
Another issue he brought up, is how close a fire department is to an area of Boise near where the Goose Fire happened a few weeks ago.
"If people keep moving out there and homes keep growing, then we need to have a fire department out there and that's something I'm advocating for," Domeny said.
The City of Boise recently announced it's considering adding a fire station in the same area, on the corner of N. Bogart Lane and W. State Street.
Maria Santa-Cruz Cernik is also a small business owner and said one of the top issues in Boise right now is the proposed Interfaith Sanctuary shelter on West State Street.
"One would be the shelter and also the safety in our neighborhoods and you know maintaining that. I think we need to do more of a neighborhood watch," she said.
Cernik has previously been critical of the proposed move but recently met with the executive director of Interfaith Sanctuary, Jodi Peterson-Stigers to learn more about the project. She has not made any other comments on the issue since this meeting.
On housing, she said tiny homes might be a solution, "My suggestion would be to create an Avimor-type village of small houses--tiny houses as they're called."
You can view the full interview with Cernick below.
Greg Macmillan has more than a decade of experience with commercial and residential realty. He said one of the top issues in Boise right now is public safety.
"I don't think they're receiving as much training as they would like. And I think that's really important to provide high-quality service from the Boise Police, also providing the resources necessary for the Fire Department as well," he said.
On housing, he said one way to address this issue is to add staff to planning and zoning and streamline the processes.
"In terms of getting more housing out there, one of the things we can do immediately is address planning and zoning and bring more staff in," MacMillan said.
He also said the City can look to other cities that have grown quickly for examples of what to do and what not to do.
"Look outside our own bubble to say, who's doing well, how did they do it and maybe who didn't do it as well and what can we learn from them?" he said. "I think if you look to--a couple of examples I think where cities have grown quickly in the west would be--if you look at Albuquerque, and I haven't specifically spoken with, but look at Colorado Springs, look at Albuquerque. Again I don't know that they've done it right or well."
You can view the full interview with MacMillan below.