I support Boise’s commitment to being a welcoming city and know that diversity and inclusion create a richer, stronger community. All decisions I face as councilwoman will be viewed through a filter of compassion.
I grew up in Burley, Idaho. I was raised by a single mom who at times worked 2.5 full time jobs to support our family of four. My mom died just shy of her 63rd birthday in 2005, and I am convinced that my mother’s early death was due to exhaustion. I believe that my mother quite literally worked herself to death, and because of the work I do, I know that there are people in Boise who are today also working themselves into an early grave.
A living wage for a single person in Idaho is $14.90 according to the People’s Action Institute, but the State of Idaho does not allow the city to increase the minimum wage. There are currently about 1,600 people who work for the city of Boise and our city pays out $8 million in contracts to businesses that provide services to the city.
The city of Boise has an opportunity to lead by example by paying its employees a livable wage and ensuring that city contractors follow suit. Boise is not afraid of making bold moves in the name of human rights, and by choosing to pay its employees a living wage, Boise would be setting the standard for the rest of Idaho.
As a child, I lived downwind from the Simplot Potato Processing Plant in Burley, Idaho. During winter inversions, the stench of the potato waste was suffocating. As difficult as it was to live with that level of air pollution, ALL my family members and a majority of our community worked in that plant and depended on it to survive. When it comes to making difficult choices, I bring my own real world experience to the decision-making process.
Based on the data we have so far, the noise pollution alone makes the F-35 an unlikely fit with the Energize Our Neighborhoods initiative that the city has embraced to revitalize our community. The Vista neighborhood served as the site for the Energize pilot project, and this area has also voiced the most resistance to the F-35. We need to listen to the folks who will be directly affected by the F-35. We must consider people’s various sleep/work schedules, children, and other types of businesses in the area, and how the F-35 may adversely affect so many people.
Boise is a desirable location for businesses and new residents. We will have other opportunities for economic development that will be a better fit with our city. If we are truly going to be the most livable city in the country, we must be willing to say “no thank you” to certain opportunities.
Boise has the opportunity to do more for marginalized communities. While we lead by example in anti-discrimination in the state, we must move beyond resolutions to action. It is not enough to patronize the businesses of these communities or to attend cultural events, we must stand up and speak out about issues that directly affect all Boiseans.
After working as a fair housing tester and as a current renter, I uniquely understand the challenges in our housing market. I also applaud Boise’s Housing First model and will work to expand and strengthen this program.
As a community, we can do so much more. When I saw Cooper Court being dismantled, and observed Boise trying to manage the various needs of those affected, I realized there is no quick fix. Shutting down Cooper Court did not eradicate homelessness. There were and are still people who need our help.
The city was responding to the optics of Cooper Court rather than the complex issues of homelessness. I have been heartened to see that the city is responding to the community feedback about the way it initially addressed the issue of increased homelessness. One of the ways Boise is helping people who are struggling with homelessness, is by partnering with community organizations like Catch of Ada County through the Housing First Initiative.
It is not uncommon for people to struggle with multiple issues in addition to homelessness. By addressing the issue of homelessness first, community partners can work together to ensure we are providing the best possible solutions and opportunities for people to thrive.
When it comes to homelessness, I want people to remember that we are talking about people, and no one wants to be viewed through a narrow lens. We are humans, all of us vastly different, but we all have dreams for a better life, we all have passionate pursuits, and we aspire to be more than our current circumstances may allow.
The public transportation issue is two-fold: connecting all areas of Boise and connecting Boise to other parts of the valley. These two issues have a common thread: improved routes and increased frequency. Public transportation is directly connected to the issues of affordable housing, traffic, environmental impact, and growth.
The current system is not working for most Boiseans, with the focus on access in the city’s downtown and most of its residents living outside of that bubble. An ideal public transportation solution would work toward linking the entire community. It would connect our community in work, play, and everyday activities, because we do more than just travel between home and work.
ValleyRide is currently tasked with connecting the Treasure Valley and is maximizing dollars by receiving federal matching funds. However, there is more that needs to be done to meet the growing needs of the valley. The City of Boise should continue to partner with the other municipalities in the valley to ensure that a collaborative and user-centric approach to the public transportation issue is taken when identifying and executing solutions. It would benefit the valley to look at expanding the idea of the circulator from moving folks around the core downtown area, to connecting the valley, which will improve access to affordable housing and recreation, reduce environmental impacts, enhance shared economies, and engage with our neighbors.
Affordable housing ensures that renting and owning are both attainable, allows for economic diversity within our neighborhoods, and helps people live where they work, shop, and play. In Boise, we fall short in all areas. We need to learn from other cities who are experimenting with solutions to this problem and engage in the national conversation. No one policy will solve this problem because the problem is a lack of inventory, space, and incentive. Cities across the country have gotten creative with construction taxes on development not considered affordable, used public land, and leveraged different types of housing like accessory dwelling units and tiny houses.
The City of Boise is currently doing the work to prepare for expected population growth by instituting the Energize Our Neighborhoods initiative. This initiative addresses the unique needs of each neighborhood. By partnering with neighborhoods and with organizations like NeighborWorks to create the types of neighborhoods that offer affordable home purchasing opportunities, we can continue the work of connecting our community.
Healthy growth preserves the character and quality of our city, balancing livability with smart economic opportunities. I pledge to carefully consider the impact to all people and sectors in all decisions.
The Transportation Action Plan is the result of seven years of planning with Boise City, ACHD, Valley Regional Transit, and others to address our growing transportation issues. It’s about thinking of different ways that we can get around our city and the Treasure Valley.
Because we work and play in the entire city, our next step is to ensure that these ideas are implemented across Boise, and not just in the downtown area. Enhanced public transportation will help to alleviate traffic congestion, but we also need to take steps to make neighborhoods safe to walk and bike for everyone.
The key to transportation is in building and maintaining relationships with organizations responsible for our roads.
Growing up with limited means, I have only recently realized that my upbringing involved incorporating conservation into my family’s way of life and was an important value that guided our behavior. I am a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts, and the Girl Scout Law specifically addresses “using resources wisely,” which is something I would always emphasize in programming activities with our young scouts.
I grew up in the 1970s and ‘80s, when anti-littering, anti-pollution campaigns were instrumental in making our community aware of our responsibility for preserving our natural world and to see clean waterways and public land as resources to protect and maintain. I am proud to be associated with an organization like the Girl Scouts where we teach our scouts that they should leave a place better than they found it (Leave No Trace). I believe that instilling these values at a young age will make conservation work a lifelong value for future generations.
Creating an urban renewal district is a way to systematically create a city paradigm that relocates businesses, demolishes structures, relocates people, and uses eminent domain to accomplish projects. I want to ensure that everyone has a seat at the table by partnering with businesses, organizations, and citizen groups like neighborhood associations when projects of great impact are conceptualized and executed.
The downtown stadium project has the potential for positive economic impacts, and also displacing established business and people, and increasing traffic and noise. In order to make the best decision, a dialogue is important to understand the competing interests, generate solutions, and execute collaborative city projects. Creating a renewal district does little to promote collaborative works or inclusivity to all Boiseans. We need to consider the third way.
I will always seek to advance and protect Boise’s vibrant arts community, rich history, and treasured public spaces for this generation and those to come, ensuring that we never lose the qualities that make Boise so special.
Boiseans are concerned with the rate of development in the Boise Foothills and how it will limit the number of people who are able to enjoy the natural beauty that makes Boise so special to our residents and visitors. As a longtime Boisean, I appreciate the longtime and ongoing work that is being done by our city and community leaders to ensure that as many people as possible are able to benefit from going into nature.
As I hike the Boise Foothills, I notice that I am usually one of the few Latinas on the trail. I would love to pay it forward by serving as the ambassador to the Boise outdoors for the rest of our community who have yet to discover the joy of going into nature right here in our very own backyard! You don’t have to be perfect, you don’t need fancy clothes, and it’s okay to be afraid. Let’s bring our imperfect selves to the experience and come away with a better sense of what it means to be a Boisean.
One of the many things that draw people to Boise is our celebration of the arts and history. As a cultural arts grant reviewer for the Boise City Department of Arts and History, I have seen how the City fosters this and provides real tangible opportunities for underrepresented artists to create, which is an important part of our social fabric.