CALDWELL, Idaho — Three seats on Caldwell's City Council are on the ballot this year on November 2. Candidates took part in a forum hosted by the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce Thursday.
The Seat one, two and three candidates were asked different questions during the forum.
When asked about top priorities, many seat one candidates cited public safety as a top concern.
Incumbent, Mike Pollard said there's a shortage of police officers.
"Mayor Nancoles, when he appointed me to City Council, he sat me down and said Mike the most important thing that the City Council does is oversee the safety of our citizens," he said.
Brad Doty also talked about the need for more police officers, "I've had meetings with both fire and police, police are down significantly in their numbers. It's into the longevity where you have sergeants on the street that have two and three years of experience."
Brett Slaughter said he has three top priorities: keep Caldwell, Caldwell, public safety and making Caldwell business-friendly.
"I would like the next mayor to commit a--or create a safety commission and I would like to serve on that as a city councilman," he said about public safety.
Public safety is also a priority for Joe Martinez, but he doesn't want Caldwell residents to pay higher taxes.
"Knowing that as a resident of the City of Caldwell for 27 years, I'm not trying to pay more taxes for my community, but at the same time, I want to protect what I have," he said.
On whether and how they would reduce the budget, the candidates had different ideas.
Doty said, "It's not about reducing the budget so much as it is making sure that what we're spending is responsible spending."
He said he's for reviewing each department's services they have to provide and adjusting how money is spent.
Slaughter said he's sure there are areas where the budget can be cut.
"Another thing that I've thought a lot about is how we make sure that when we're cutting the budget we're clear about it and we have an open conversation with the public," he said.
Martinez said, "I don't know if that's something that we can sit down and give a number to."
He also said the City should address each individual department and look at what the costs are.
"With growth we need income," he said. "I can't see cutting a budget that we're depleted on for our first responders, it's kind of hard to look at," Martinez said.
Pollard said the budget for the coming fiscal year is high because of money from COVID relief.
"I think the staff, I know we on City Council, do everything we can to make sure we're spending the taxpayers' money to the best of our ability," he said.
Shawn Herman, in his opening statement, said he wants to see the City of Caldwell continue to progress.
"I do not want to see the city hang a closed for business sign on it and I just want to help preserve Caldwell's core values of freedom, faith and family," he said.
Chuck Stadick was previously on Caldwell City Council, but lost to John McGee, the former state senator, in 2019.
"I'm here to make sure Caldwell continues to grow in the manner that we like it, we want to make sure that we don't get taxed out of our homes and we want to make sure that we manage growth properly," Stadick said.
Florina Ruvio also said she's concerned about growth and people being priced out of their homes.
"I want to make sure that we still have places to enjoy, you know like the parks and areas out around. I want to make sure that the resources are allocated properly," she said.
Incumbent, Dennis Callsen previously worked for the Caldwell Fire Department and has been on Caldwell City Council for the last 16 years.
"The City of Caldwell was going downhill very fast. I did my share of complaining, somebody asked me, well why don't you do something about it. That's when I decided to run for city council," he said.
He also said he's not done yet.
The candidates were also asked about their qualifications for the position.
Ruvio said she has lived in Caldwell a long time and is very involved in the Caldwell School District.
"I've worked in nonprofit for a bit and so I get to see firsthand how community resources could really help or harm a family and there are really small changes that could be made that really have a big impact on families," she said.
Callsen said "22 years ago when I first ran for City Council, I thought I was well prepared. I found out quickly that I was not really well prepared."
He said doing the job is more complex than anyone can imagine and that he now has 20 years behind him as well as 26 additional years of knowing Caldwell.
Herman said that as a small business owner, he thinks government should be run as a business.
"I'm passionate for making this city go in the right direction," he said. "I don't want to see forward momentum stop."
Stadick said his time working at the Simplot company qualifies him as well as his previous four years on City Council.
After leaving City Council, he was Executive Director of the Southern Idaho Potato Growers Co-op.
"We spent a lot of time at the state level, working with senators and House of Representatives trying to pass bills that would benefit the potato growers relative to contract negotiations," Stadick said.
Two of four candidates participated in the candidate forum Thursday.
Diana Register said she decided to run for City Council because she's concerned about growth, "growth is coming to our city whether we like it or not. We need to be prepared to accommodate that growth, while keeping the integrity of Caldwell and its small-town charm."
John Carter said recent events, like the Darigold Fire show the city needs to change how it's budgeting.
"I believe that our taxes are getting too high--people are getting taxed out of their home--and these are things that we can change," he said.
Both candidates were asked what they see as the top two issues in the next four years in Caldwell.
Carter said rising taxes and emergency services are the top two issues.
"I own a home in this city. Those taxes are making it difficult to make payments, not just for me, but for our elderly population that are on fixed incomes," he said.
Register, who is the widow of a first responder, said emergency services is at the top of her list.
"We're underfunded, we're understaffed, our response times are going to start slowing down," she said.
She also said property taxes are a big priority.
Incumbent, Rob Hopper did not participate in the forum because he was at his daughter's wedding.
He's been on the City Council since 2001 and according to the City of Caldwell's website, has participated in revitalizing Caldwell's downtown, improving pedestrian and bicycle transit and improving services the city provides to residents. He's also the president for Idaho Smart Growth.
Zachary Strong also did not participate in the forum because of a coaching commitment.
According to his campaign website, he hopes to improve roadways and city operations due to growth and for Caldwell to be an example of having well-trained and community-oriented first responders.