Grab some tea, folks, and tuck in. The race for mayor, led by incumbent Lauren McLean and Mike Masterson, is getting a lot of attention, but it’s time to check in on the Boise City Council candidates. The new City Council will look very different from our current one no matter who wins, but the mayor’s agenda could be seriously impacted depending on how a few of these races slide.
I took a look at campaign donations back in late August, so I’ll run an update on those soon. But for now, here’s the latest on who’s running to represent Boiseans at the local level.
District 1 - West Boise
Incumbent Luci Willits was running to represent this district unopposed, so as much as the City Cast Boise team — and Willits herself — don’t like it, this election was canceled. This will be her second term, and she will keep this seat for four years.
Note: Term lengths are varied this year to make elections staggered in the future. Members elected in even-numbered districts will hold their seats for two years, and odd-numbered districts will go for four. In the next City Council election, all terms will be four years.
District 2 - West Bench & Winstead
Incumbent: Colin Nash, who was appointed to an at-large seat earlier this year.
Nash’s challengers are:
- Grant Burgoyne, former Democratic legislator.
- Jesse Gonzales, former forest service smoke jumper.
- Hillary Smith, lawyer.
- Nash and Burgoyne are both former lawmakers who represented Boise, but one interesting difference is that Nash voted to approve the new zoning code, while Burgoyne spoke against the zoning code.
- Gonzales is a newcomer, and I couldn’t find a campaign website for him.
- Smith is supporting Mike Masterson in the mayoral race and told BoiseDev that she is running to the political right of Nash and Burgoyne.
District 3 - Southwest Boise & Some Central Bench
Even without an incumbent, this is a tough race with four candidates all touting impressive resumés and deep community roots.
- Chris Blanchard, a member of the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission.
- Kathy Corless, former president of the South Cole Neighborhood Association.
- Josh Johnston, vice president of Kount, a tech company.
- Theresa Vawter, an Idaho Food Bank staff member.
- Apart from Johnston, each of these candidates point to their work in various levels of government as proof of their ability to hold office.
- The city’s zoning code rewrite is a pressing matter for this election, with Blanchard having been involved in the process, Johnston wanting to start the process over, Corless supporting it with some restrictions, and Vawter in support, but understanding community hesitations.
- Vawter also said she supported the city’s investigation into racism at BPD, while Johnston said he did not.
District 4 - South, Southeast Boise
This seat is at-large, with two candidates:
- Janet Burke, a former Weyerhaeuser and current Yanke Machine Shop employee with volunteer engagement experience.
- Jordan Morales, the department manager of Boise State University’s Computer Science Department.
- Morales has been vocal in his support of McLean and the zoning code rewrite.
- I couldn’t find a website for Burke, but she’s quoted in this Idaho Press article speaking against the rewrite: “We’ve witnessed our city in serious decline, fighting to keep Boise Boise, locking this city down, making people wear masks, brewing in the morale and stigma of our police officers.”
- Neil Mercer was running for this seat, but withdrew in mid-September.
District 5 - Downtown, East End, some North End
There are only two candidates for this district, but both are running strong campaigns:
- Meredith Stead, an incumbent who was appointed to this seat after former Council member Holli Woodings left, and a Planning & Zoning Commissioner.
- Jeremy Gugino, a former attorney and political volunteer for Democratic causes.
- Gugino was also the former communications director during Reclaim Idaho’s Medicaid Expansion push, and points to his door-knocking experience to show his familiarity with constituents.
- Both are left-leaning candidates, which makes Stead’s endorsements noteworthy: She’s been picked by Woodings, Conservation Voters for Idaho, and the Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates.
District 6 - Some North End, Northwest Boise
Similarly to Willits in district one, only incumbent Jimmy Hallyburton ran for this seat, so the election was canceled, and he’ll remain on the council for a two-year term.