GARDEN CITY, Idaho — The candidates for Mayor and City Council in Garden City shared their views on a number of topics during a forum Wednesday.
The incumbent in the mayoral race, John Evans, will face a challenger for the first time since he was first elected 16 years ago. That challenger is Hannah Ball.
Ball grew up in Garden City and returned to the city after a tour in the US Army.
If elected, she said her top priority would be listening to citizens, "We should be able to have an open mic at every city council where people can bring their ideas to us, they can bring solutions, we can collaborate on the spot."
When asked whether she supports Dr. Ryan Cole's confirmation to the board of Central District Health, she said she would listen to the community. She said she believes the majority of Garden City citizens do not share Dr. Cole's beliefs.
Evans said he's running for re-election because he started with a plan 16 years ago that is not yet completed. He said that plan includes infrastructure upgrades and maintaining the financial and operational integrity of the city.
"We've made good progress and I want to keep the momentum going," Evans said.
He said his top priority is operating as the city's chief executive.
"As the mayor I'm responsible for budget management, making sure your water's clean, the police show up, the trash service is there, that the parks and greenbelt are maintained to the level that the budget allows," he said.
When asked whether he supports Dr. Ryan Cole's confirmation to the board of Central District Health, he said, "I support Dr. Ryan Cole because 18 months into this pandemic, our numbers were getting worse. There was no emphasis whatsoever on therapeutics, early treatment. There should've been that notion, or that process should've been in place from the very beginning of the pandemic."
As our media partners at the Idaho Statesman reported, The Idaho Medical Association filed a complaint against Dr. Cole with the Idaho Board of Medicine earlier this month because he prescribed Ivermectin to patients.
Candidate Bill Jacobs said he decided to run because he has 35 years of business experience and thought the Council could use someone with that experience.
Jacobs said if he's elected, his top priority would be managing growth. "We've got the fairgrounds, we've got the greenbelt, we've got infrastructure, traffic issues, high-density development. So how do those types of issues that are going to be facing the city, how are they going to be managed? How is infrastructure affected by those types of things?"
Current Councilmember Theresa Jorgensen was appointed to the Council in September of 2020 by Mayor Evans to fill Elfreda Higgins’ seat after she resigned.
Jorgensen said she's running for re-election because she is concerned about growth and wants to help guide it in a positive direction. She said she took issue with development around her subdivision while she was on the HOA board and started testifying before City Council and applied for the City Council appointment in 2020.
Her top priority, she said, would be managing smart growth.
"The mayor and other city Council members give me a hard time about being the parking czar. I frequently stand-alone voting against development because I believe that there needs to be consideration for existing residents as well as future," she said.
Additionally, Jorgensen said service levels needs to be maintained as Garden City continues to grow.
Jorgensen also talked about advocating for House Bill 389, which changes property tax exemptions to be modified or replaced. According to the Associated Press, opponents of the bill argue it will limit tax revenue from new construction, limiting city services.
John McCrostie is currently the Assistant Minority Leader in the Idaho House of Representatives. He is also a music teacher at Boise Public Schools.
He said the elected leaders are not listening to the people of Garden City, which led him to want to run.
McCrostie agreed that House Bill 389 needs to be changed and stated that he voted against the bill.
"I have no problem with trying to manage any balance that should take place at least for one more session with regard to serving in the Statehouse and representing the needs of Garden City in the statehouse and representing the needs of Garden City here in Garden City."
Greta Mohr is a small business owner and said she wanted to run for Council because of difficulties she had in opening her business and struggles she said other small business owners have had.
She said her top priority would be to make it easier for businesses to come to Garden City.
"A lot of other businesses have brought to me some of their concerns and some of the issues that they've had that haven't made their business as successful as it should be."
Ball, who is running for Mayor has formed a partnership with McCrostie and Mohr, meaning all three are supporting each other ahead of the election.
Jacobs commented on this during the forum, "The other reason I decided to run is I'm an independent candidate and I'm not running with any slate of other candidates, I'm running on my own merit. I truly believe that the Council should have four independent candidates, making four independent decisions and not tied to a slate."
McCrostie also commented on the situation.
"I was not recruited to run, nor have I recruited anyone to run for any of the positions that are up here tonight," he said.
The Ada County Republican Party has sent out mailers promoting Mayor Evans and Councilmember Jorgensen and attacking Ball, McCrostie and Mohr.
The Garden City election is heating up too.— Margaret Carmel (@mlcarmel) October 25, 2021
Here are some mailers paid for by the Ada County Republican Party against Hannah Ball and Rep. John McCrostie and for Mayor Evans and Council Member Teresa Jorgensen. pic.twitter.com/Z9p1j9NMQ4
The mailers make claims accusing Ball of wanting to tear down trailers, which she refuted during the forum.
Also during the forum, all of the candidates were asked, "Do you support a pledge for no negative campaigning and would you denounce negative campaigning from outside groups?"
Each candidate, including Evans and Jergensen, said yes, they do support the pledge.