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Boise City Council District 5 candidates talk growth, housing

Boise City Hall
Posted at 4:16 PM, Nov 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-02 13:01:04-04

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 five includes downtown Boise and everywhere in orange on the map below.

Boise redistricting map

The candidates running to represent District 5 include the incumbent, Holli Woodings, Crispin Gravatt, Katie Fite and Steve Madden.

Woodings was elected to Boise City Council in 2017. Before this, she was a representative in the Idaho House of Representatives.

She said she originally wanted to run for City Council because so much happens at the local level.

"We have so much to do with climate change, we have our clean energy goals now, which really bring in my clean energy expertise and I think there's so much that happens in our everyday life that is led by city government," she said. "I think it's just such a great way to serve a city that I love so much."

Woodings cited the two-year term as a reason for running for re-election. She said she thinks her experience will help with the zoning code rewrite and other things expected to come up in the next two years for Boise City Council.

One of the things Woodings said she's most proud of from her time in City Council, is the establishment of an after-school program at McMillan Elementary School in the West Ada School District.

Other things she's proud of are the addition of vaping to the nonsmoking ordinance, a hands-free mobile phone ordinance before the state Legislature passed one statewide to cut down on distracted driving and equity of park access throughout the City of Boise.

She said the top issues in Boise right now are growth and housing. One way Woodings said she would address these issues is through the zoning code rewrite.

"Back in 2008 our city underwent a blueprint for good growth that was adopted as Blueprint Boise," she said. "So now what we need to do is we need to take everything that we developed in Blueprint Boise which was a very citizen-involved process of just kind of envisioning what our neighborhoods are going to look like into the future and we need to put that into city code."

Woodings also wants to address homelessness. She said one solution might be to create a program similar to Our Path—a housing-first approach to ending homelessness—for families.

To watch the full interview with Holli Woodings, click on the video below.

Holli Woodings full interview

Steve Madden moved to Boise from California three years ago. He's referred to himself on his Facebook page as a “political, economic and social refugee” from California.

He said he wanted to run for Boise City Council because he heard from people he met at the Statehouse during the legislative session that the Boise City government wasn't doing a good job of listening to the people.

Madden said the top issues in Boise right now are growth, affordable housing and housing affordability, public safety and homelessness.

He said he's not a fan of defunding the police or other public safety departments. He wants the police to be funded and supported in a way that they know the city government supports them, he said.

Madden also said as the City grows, law enforcement coverage needs to grow too.

"I'd like to see the funding stay in place for hiring quality people for the police department, give them the best training and the best equipment they need," he said. "I want the folks that live here to be able to go out of their house at night, go downtown and feel safe."

On housing, Madden said he doesn't want to create a welcoming atmosphere for people who can't afford to live in Boise unless they're on public assistance.

"If we have affordable housing it should be a transitional process that they go through. Come into affordable housing, get your life back together, get some job training, get the help from outside government services and kind of get yourself picked back up and get your pride and your self-esteem back in place and get back out and work and take care of yourself," he said.

Madden said affordability is different than affordable housing, it's what you have in your pockets.

"The city can do a lot to support local business by reducing the cost of opening your doors every day and turning on the lights as far as fees and regulatory costs and support business so that they can hire more people, pay them a better wage, let them have more money to spend on improving their quality of life," he said.

He said for people who are being priced out of Boise, it's a marketplace problem.

"I don't want government to step in and rent control that and take the value opportunity away from the landowner, from the property owner, I'm just not in favor of that," he said.

To watch the full interview with Steve Madden, click on the video below.

Steve Madden full interview

Crispin Gravatt grew up in Boise and went to Boise State University. He's the chair of the Public Works Commission, a renter and has experience advocating for domestic abuse survivors and works for the Idaho STEM Action Center which is an executive office of the Governor.

He said he wanted to run for Boise City Council this year because he sees the City's growing pains as an opportunity to create the kind of future Boiseans want. He also thinks his perspective as a renter will be helpful.

Gravatt said climate change is top of mind for him.

"I think there are some really effective, creative ways that we can make sure polluters are paying their fair share for using our systems so that cost doesn't transfer to us," he said. "I think our zoning code rewrite presents an incredible opportunity for us to sort of build our neighborhoods and build our buildings in a way that mitigates our impact on our natural environment."

He said it's also important to mitigate wildfire threats in Boise's Wildland Urban Interface.

Gravatt said there are two parts to housing affordability: housing stock and wages.

"Part of the housing affordability crisis is one, our housing stock. We need to address our housing stock in more creative ways, but any long-term housing solution is going to take years to see through," he said. "The other part of the housing affordability crisis is that wages haven't kept up. We need to find more creative solutions to enable all Boiseans to have these high-paying careers."

Gravatt said the City needs to help local small businesses too.

"We need to make sure that our small local businesses that bring such vitality to our community are able to keep up with rising costs of labor. That they're able to pay their employees fairly so that their employees can live and enjoy the neighborhoods around where they work," he said.

You can view the full interview with Crispin Gravatt by clicking on the video below.

Crispin Gravatt full interview

Katie Fite has nearly a decade of experience working for Idaho Fish and Game and various environmental groups.

She said she wanted to run for Boise City Council this year because she has been getting more concerned over decisions the current council is making and because of the housing affordability crisis.

Fite sees housing affordability, city actions related to parks and public land and transparency and communication as the top issues in Boise right now.

"Immediate actions include everything from setting up like a home registry to help bring seniors and others that may have room in their houses to be able to rent to renters that are seeking a place," she said.

The City is currently exploring this idea and Tiny Homes, which Fite also recommends, but she also said the City should explore more mobile home and RV parks.

She also said the City should be better at communication about the zoning rewrite to help residents better understand what's happening.

Additionally, Fite said communication is important, "We need to make sure we involve our neighborhoods and our neighborhood associations and the full spectrum of nonprofits in moving forward right now in these difficult times in Boise."

She also proposes a 30 minute public comment period at every City Council meeting.

To view the full interview with Katie Fite, click on the video below.

Katie Fite full interview

For more information on the November 2 election, click here.