Meridian mayoral candidates:
- Gina Johnson
- Joe Palmer
- Anne Little Roberts
- Robert Simison
- Shaun Wardle
Name: Gina Johnson
- Age: 27
- Education: Current: Ashworth College (Based in Atlanta, GA) Online Student Major is both Associates of Arts & Bachelor of Arts in General Studies. Will graduate with Associates Degree in December 2019. Graduated in June 2010 from iSucceed Virtual High School in Boise, Idaho.
- Website: www.Gina4IDMayor.com
- Bankruptcies or misdemeanor/felony convictions? No
Occupation and relevant work experience: Various Retail, Customer Service, & volunteer jobs. Please visit my LinkedIn Page for a resume. Link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/igameusafounder/
Past political experience: I have not held any Political positions, but I have testified in various Public Testimony events held by the Idaho State House & Senate H&W Committee. Between 2006-2010 I participated in the Nampa Mayor’s Teen Council.
Endorsements: I do not have Endorsements at this time, but you can find a list of Supporters who Support me Here (https://www.gina4idmayor.com/campaign). Please note these individuals DO WISH to endorse me but CANNOT do an Endorsement due to Conflict of Interests within the Industry/Company they work for.
Why are you running for this office? I was asked to run by many local folks, who specifically asked to have me maintain what Mayor Tammy DeWeerd has put into place during her last 4 terms. Mainly that Tammy has maintained a very good balance between the City, it’s neighbors, and the State despite enormous growth that our region has faced over the past 16 years. I am running specifically for Mayor to maintain that balance because unlike “career opponents,” I specialize in mediation. To me Mediation is literally what any Mayor does. It is the Checks/Balance system that Residents rely on to make sure that they are represented by a fair bipartisan political system. Running for Mayor allows me to be the last line of defense, so the Council makes decisions with everyone in mind, not just acting without thinking. I am not going to raise taxes, nor reduce spending. I’m not looking to remove or rethink anything that Mayor Tammy has put into place. I’m simply a citizen who thinks running for Mayor can maintain that lost voice of each resident following Tammy’s departure from office.
What are your top three priorities if elected? Follow the fiscal year budget and don’t disrupt anything that was set into place before my inauguration. But while not disrupting anything, I will poll & put new ideas on to the Council & Committee floors to help consider new approaches to future budgeting plans. Then will enact some measures to prototype them as possible solutions to see results for the next 2-3 years. Next, I will work on addressing the growth our City is facing including: Cost of Living- I will work with Real Estate Investors on finding ways to lower and/limit rent increases so long term Idahoans can reduce their Rent/Mortgage to Income Ratio. Economy- Making sure we prepare for a recession without inflating costs or reducing Public Services using those prototype methods I listed above. This includes bringing in businesses that hire Local Meridian residents by recruiting businesses from different industries to help employ residents with unique pre-employment circumstances. Construction & Transportation- I will make sure we don’t misuse or neglect funding options to improve both construction & transportation methods. Work with the Regional politicians to build a Server Hub Center in the Unincorporated areas & Railroads south of Meridian.
Why should voters select you over your opponents? They should elect me if they want to see someone who isn’t a career politician to take office. If they want a local Treasure Valley resident who has lived in the region for the past 19 years. If you want one who truly understands the results of all actions that every politician has since taken. If they want a candidate who doesn’t want to stir the pot but does want something different... say to prototype new ideas just without a permeant risk of policies being put into place. If you want a candidate whose personality doesn’t have an ego… but is bold enough to not just face the truth but speak it before you hear it anywhere else. Or you want a candidate who is in the little guys shoes and is willing to step into the room with the big leagues to negotiate BUT doesn’t want or need to join the 1% to get things done.
Concerns about growth and how it is affecting schools, roads and infrastructure are a common topic at public forums. Do you think the city should be limiting growth? Why or why not: The City should not limit growth but make sure it is balanced so residents don’t face economic consequences in the future. Working with Investors, Business Owners, and politicians to maintain that balance isn’t enough. We must make sure our Council doesn’t just take but considers any and all factors that all taxpayers face. Since taxpayers aren’t just investors, owners, or politicians, but include all types of families, students, employees, or tourists. Plus, even if we fund them, we can’t misuse precious things like land or water resources. Like wildlife, those items have an impact on how we achieve that sustainable growth pattern. Cause once they’re gone, they’re gone. No matter any background, growth isn’t something you can limit or improve overnight, nor should it be a permeant or temporary topic… but I do believe that we can be better at affecting how we maintain it by taking into account ALL beings and areas that are affected by it. Including looking at limiting how many non-renewable resources we need to sustain whatever balance we achieve with it.
With Meridian being one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, what are your plans to ensure economic development keeps up with residential growth? Just like Businesses, residents are affected by a variety of services, utilities, and technology. Many areas here in the valley still don’t receive fast reliable internet, and with almost everything here requiring some form of it, our internet needs to be improved. However, with the closest Data Hub being in Seattle or Salt Lake City, both businesses and residents need something much closer to receive those crucial speeds to operate in a sustainable manner. I plan on working with regional politicians to not just improve but cut our technology costs down by installing a minimum of 3 Data Centers A.k.a. a Server Hub, in the unincorporated areas south of Meridian. The reasons to place them in the unincorporated areas are to limit their noise, conserve energy by utilizing the existing desert/farm areas to turn it into wind/solar energy, and to cut down on construction as Data lines can be installed along the south Meridian railways that are very seldom used. I believe this along with my Ten Mile plaza idea can be used so any residents who are not nature enthusiasts and looking for indoor jobs can work for the companies that build or need those centers.
Many Meridian residents are concerned about the number of apartments and multifamily developments being built in the city. What are your thoughts on density? We need to be prepared that future folks who move here won’t be able to get a green lawn that current residents enjoy. So instead of building single family homes we need to look at multifamily apartments for future residents and making better choices for those who are already here. Whether you are an investor, rent payer, or homeowner, we need to face reality. We cannot be spreading out; we must build up. We don’t need to turn into Seattle or New York City, but we need to do it in a way that doesn’t affect our skyline nor our environment. I plan on encouraging all investors on building 3-6 level multifamily units that provide community gardens and eco-friendly options. Each complex must have retail units on the same grounds to give residents reasons to walk instead of using vehicles. Making sure that P&Z will consider a variety of retail services for residents to be employed at are included in the area instead of the same industry on each corner. Plus having P&Z ensure that investors are realistic with their tenant renting costs, along with the wind & mountain views that each resident will ultimately have to face.
Over the past two years, the Meridian Development Corporation and the city have asked developers to submit proposals for two redevelopment projects in downtown. How do you feel about the city’s efforts to revitalize its downtown: To me, most of the Meridian Downtown projects that have been put into place are limiting the main issues that are being faced in it. Right now, that main issue Downtown Meridian is being used as a quick transportation gateway to get from the freeway & commercial districts on the I-84 exit area to the residential neighborhoods that are way past it. Even though there is shopping near Downtown, most don’t see it as a useful or needed shopping center unless they were there for the occasional service-based office, and some unique food stores. Other than a lot of thrift stores, a majority are not retail oriented or if they are, they are not catering to a wider, more effective demographic. That demographic being youth and young adults. There is a lot of missed opportunities that could be replaced but to do so could harm the businesses there. I feel right now that if I were elected, it would be best to limit my actions so that I don’t disrupt what is already there, and instead look at P&Z to improve resources for future tenets and provide additional parking options for shopping and city or local downtown events.
What is the city’s duty, if any, to be environmentally conscientious or offer residents the tools to do so: Meridian use to be all farmland, and now, well, what happens when there is no place to grow? Once land is built, it is hard to redevelop it. We need to look at eco-friendly options if we are to continue developing. Otherwise, we shouldn’t develop that land at all. Just like land, water is going, and once its permanently gone, we humans will be next. We need to look at limiting our consumption of all resources. If we’re going to increase consumption, we need to replace what is lost, or capture what we can while stocking for the future. I plan on implementing mandatory community gardens on every new neighborhood that is to be developed. Composting should be used & rewarded whenever possible, but not everyone has the same idea. I plan on providing discounted utilities instead of tax cuts for everyone who participates in eco-friendly options. They won’t be a requirement but anyone -including businesses who provide car or bike charging ports- will receive discounted utilities if they decide to opt-in. Alternative energy methods also shouldn’t be banned even if Idaho Power wishes to eliminate competitors, and if I’m elected, I won’t let Idaho Power dominate that untapped market.
Should the city put more resources toward services for homeless individuals and domestic violence victims? Why or why not? Yes. However, when we put more services towards a city-wide issue, we need to make sure we don’t cause more problems along the way. Some services that have been implemented in the past don’t always end up helping the way they were intended, and instead cause more trouble than they were supposed to fix. I have seen that most folks who are homeless or those who experience domestic violence situations do want out, but sometimes we can’t go to them because they are not ready to make the necessary decisions and changes. We shouldn’t help if they don’t want it. While helping those who don’t yet have the courage to change is a noble method, our economy can’t survive on helping lost causes. I wish it was different but accepting those whose calls come into emergency dispatch happen every day. Those calls could result into better outcomes should additional resources be given to our public safety teams that are already in place. It is a harsh world, and politicians must make harsh decisions. I don’t like it, but I must accept reality. Despite good intentions, we can’t help everybody. We can only do our best with what we got.
Name: Joe Palmer
- Age: 55
- Education: Ricks College (BYU Idaho), Boise State University
- Website: palmerformeridian.com
- Bankruptcies or misdemeanor/felony convictions? No
Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony crime? (Traffic citations not included.) If yes, what were the convictions and circumstances? No.
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy for yourself or for your business? If yes, please tell us when and the circumstances. No.
Occupation and relevant work experience: Co-Owner, Cherry’s Consignment Furnishing
Past political experience: State Representative, Meridian D20, Republican (2009-2019), Chairman, House Transportation Committee
Endorsements: Speaker Scott Bedke, Sen. C Scott Grow, Rep. Mike Moyle, Rep. Gayann DeMordaunt, Rep. James Holtzclaw, Sen. Regina Bayer, Rep. Steve Harris, Sen. Lori Den Hartog, Rep. John Vander Woude, Rep. Jason Monks, Building Contractors of S.W. Idaho, Idaho Chooses Life.
Why are you running for this office? Generations of my family have lived in the Meridian area for a reason: Meridian is a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family. We’re at a crucial point where our city is growing. We want to hold on to what makes it special while also having a clear vision for how to deal with the challenges and opportunities that come with so much growth. My commitment as your mayor will be to maintain and improve the quality of life for families, businesses and communities.
What are your top three priorities if elected? Improve transportation for our community. Make sure our city is financially sound while eliminating government waste. Keep property taxes at a manageable level for everyone.
Why should voters select you over your opponents? I believe my experience in the private sector, as well as serving as a State Representative for Meridian makes me uniquely qualified to serve as Mayor. I’ll use my background to continue to the successes Meridian has made while preparing us for the future.
Concerns about growth and how it is affecting schools, roads and infrastructure are a common topic at public forums. Do you think the city should be limiting growth? Why or why not: As a lifelong resident of the area, I think I can do a better job at managing growth. The issue of growth is highlighted by Meridian’s transportation needs. With my background as chairman of the House Transportation Committee, I’ll make sure Meridian is adequately funded to meet our transportation needs now, and into the future. I’ve helped increase funding for transportation in Idaho by 70% and now we must utilize these funds help reduce traffic concerns.
With Meridian being one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, what are your plans to ensure economic development keeps up with residential growth? As Mayor, I’ll be the #1 supporter of bringing good jobs to town. This is achieved by having a fair, predictable government that embraces free markets. We must fully support our local small businesses by streamlining services and removing unneeded regulation. Sufficiently supporting education is critical in order to provide well trained employees for current and future employers.
Many Meridian residents are concerned about the number of apartments and multifamily developments being built in the city. What are your thoughts on density? As Mayor, I’ll work to get as much input from the public as possible before any developments move forward. We must work to generate and work within a comprehensive plan that will responsibly manage growth and include as much public comment as possible. This need to be in conjunction with surrounding cities, ACHD and ITD.
Over the past two years, the Meridian Development Corporation and the city have asked developers to submit proposals for two redevelopment projects in downtown. How do you feel about the city’s efforts to revitalize its downtown? The Meridian Development Corporation plays a vital role in helping to plan for the future. As Mayor, my job will be to work with them, and the city council to provide an environment for all of Meridian to prosper.
What is the city’s duty, if any, to be environmentally conscientious or offer residents the tools to do so? The proper role of government is to deliver a safe and clean community. As Mayor, I will ensure city services are at the highest standards possible.
Should the city put more resources toward services for homeless individuals and domestic violence victims? Why or why not? Ada County currently has one of the most respected victim’s right centers in the west with FACES of Hope Victims Center. FACES is a collaborative effort with County/Local Law Enforcement and numerous medical facilities to provide free services from medical, legal and temporary housing for anyone in Ada County that has been a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse. I’d like to work with them to help expand their mission and footprint across the valley to whomever needs help.
Name: Anne Little Roberts
- Age: 58
- Education: Bachelor degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Human Resource Management. I also received my Institute of Organizational Management certificate in 2017
- Website: Anne4Mayor.com
Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony crime? No
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy for yourself or for your business? In 2008 my husband and I owned an RV parts manufacturing business, and with the recession making such a huge impact on the country, people were not spending discretionary income on recreational activities. The RV industry took a hard hit, and so did our business. We did file for bankruptcy after doing everything we could to keep from it – including cashing in our 401K’s and finally filed in 2012.
Occupation and relevant work experience: Current member of the Meridian City Council, Council Liaison to Fire and Public Works Current co-owner of two companies: Northwest DryJect and Ink Now Former President and CEO of the Meridian Chamber of Commerce Former regional manager in the hospitality industry
Past political experience: Current member of the Meridian City Council
Endorsements: I have a lot of grass-roots support, but it has been my conscious decision to not actively seek endorsements from elected officials and well-known people inside or outside the city of Meridian.
Why are you running for this office? Meridian has done a lot of things right and our growth proves that, but I was president and CEO of the Meridian Chamber for over six years, and I've been on City Council for the past four years, and I see where things can be better. I have a proven track record of managing organizations effectively, and I see where we can connect organizations that need to be working together. Therefore, with my insights and my experience, I believe I am the best qualified candidate for Mayor of Meridian.
What are your top three priorities if elected?
Growth: Growth and the unintended consequences from that growth are the most critical issues that Meridian is facing. Meridian has got to be more collaborative with those that are making our decisions for us - including Ada County Highway District, Idaho Department of Transportation and West Ada School District.
Public Safety: Public Safety is a priority. All that we have accomplished in the last few years will be for naught, if Meridian is not safe. The number of police officers has not kept up with our growth. We also need fire stations situated throughout our communities to provide the best possible response times.
Represent the City: I am the best-equipped to represent the City of Meridian to our neighboring towns in the Treasure Valley, in the State of Idaho, and even throughout the United States. I have been a strong supporter of the Boise Valley Economic Partnership and will continue to work closely with them to support strategic economic development and bring livable wage jobs to Meridian this creates a healthy environment not only for our businesses but also for our families, so that Meridian continues to be the best place to live, work and raise a family.
Why should voters select you over your opponents? Because of my vision for ensuring we grow wisely, my proven experience, and my ability to connect the community. While President/CEO of the Meridian Chamber, I developed a deep understanding of the needs of our business community, and I led successful efforts to grow and protect Meridian businesses. Because our residents need economic opportunity, I will continue working to grow and protect our businesses. As a member of the Meridian City Council, I’ve developed significant relationships with the agencies that make up our city government, as well as the Idaho and Treasure Valley agencies we must work with. Currently, our Police force is understaffed and, because of our growth, we are in need of more fire stations. Community safety is not negotiable. Getting our police and fire department staffed, trained, and equipped properly is a high priority. While President of the Idaho Chamber Alliance, I developed good working relationships with other cities throughout the state. Meridian is Idaho’s 2nd largest city. It is important for us to have those good working relationships. With all these things, I bring a broad base of experience and understanding that my opponents simply do not have.
Concerns about growth and how it is affecting schools, roads and infrastructure are a common topic at public forums. Do you think the city should be limiting growth? Why or why not: From the start, a major component in my campaign is that we grow wisely. With how City Council operates, the city already limits growth in that we don’t allow builders and business to just set up buildings anywhere. I strongly believe the key to our future success is manage our growth wisely. Currently there are 2076 available single-family lots and 74 percent of those have already been permitted. Even if we didn’t issue another permit this year, we’ve already agreed to more than 1,500 new homes. That’s a lot. The city oversees sewer and water infrastructure, while ACHD and ITD oversee roads. But we must also factor in schools, shopping and economic opportunity, not to mention a sufficient number of fire stations, plus police staffing. Part of my wise growth strategy is to make sure our growth is balanced in these different areas. It’s gotten out of balance in recent years. As mayor, I will work closely with the new City Council. We may need to think outside of the box, perhaps as far as deciding how many permits to allow each year. We will no doubt continue to grow, but we MUST do it wisely.
With Meridian being one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, what are your plans to ensure economic development keeps up with residential growth? This is an important part of my vision for Meridian. The City of Meridian absolutely must do a better of working collaboratively with other organizations, such as the Boise Valley Economic Partnership. Currently Boise has five people working with BVEP, and Nampa has three. Meridian has only one. By working closer with BVEP and the State Department of Commerce, we can work to attract quality companies that provide livable wage jobs. There are also other avenues we can take for bringing high-paying jobs to the city. For example, I will work closely with Meridian’s new Economic Development Administrator, and I will put together exploratory committees to recommend development ideas. I think we also need to look at growing our own internal marketing department. The Ten Mile interchange already has a wonderful plan, and we have the opportunity to develop a vibrant downtown. However, to alleviate traffic congestion, we need to ensure workplaces get established in the northwest and west sides of Meridian, as well as south of the freeway. By encouraging more business centers to get established throughout the city, Meridian’s citizens will have an easier time getting employment closer to home.
Many Meridian residents are concerned about the number of apartments and multifamily developments being built in the city. What are your thoughts on density? We have an entire demographic of citizens that prefer living in smaller units, so there’s a need for apartments and multi-family dwellings in Meridian. This dovetails with the need to provide livable wage jobs, shopping and safe living spaces all within walking distance of each other. Currently, where the old city hall used to stand, we are expecting to have 100 condominium units combined with retail and commercial space. Designs like this are part of a vibrant downtown. If we want our downtown to thrive and not wither, we need more high-density living areas in the downtown area. There will always be a certain percentage of our population – especially millennials – that prefer walking to where they work, shop, eat, and play. And, for our downtown businesses to thrive, they’ll need a vibrant population that lives nearby. I point out millennials because we found Meridian has had a problem with keeping millennials. We found many were moving out because Meridian lacked the amenities they sought. The Ten Mile interchange area is attracting that demographic. In sum, high density housing – in the right places – is part of my plan for growing wisely.
Over the past two years, the Meridian Development Corporation and the city have asked developers to submit proposals for two redevelopment projects in downtown. How do you feel about the city’s efforts to revitalize its downtown? Continuing the revitalization of Meridian’s downtown is a high priority for me, so I am fully supportive of what we’re doing downtown. I believe we must continue the public / private partnerships that have been established. As far as future downtown developments, many Meridian businesses and residents tell me they hold events in either Boise or Nampa because there’s insufficient meeting spaces in Meridian. We’ve been missing some opportunities, and that needs to change. I am a firm believer that to have a vibrant and thriving downtown, four things are needed: Places to eat, places to shop, places to get a drink (such as coffee or cocktails) and some form of entertainment. Although we can encourage more of those types of businesses to locate downtown, people also need places to park. I think a parking structure will also be needed for Meridian’s downtown, and as mayor, I will start exploring options for a parking structure at the earliest opportunity. I think we can make downtown Meridian a place that shines, and I will work closely with the Meridian Development Corporation and the Downtown Business Association to accomplish these goals.
What is the city’s duty, if any, to be environmentally conscientious or offer residents the tools to do so? It is definitely the city’s responsibly to set expectations when it comes to being environmentally responsible. This is very important to me. I grew up on a ranch, and our vehicles had bumper stickers that said, “Ranchers: The Original Environmentalists.” The fundamental basics of the city’s responsibility are ensuring people have access to curbside recycling. Recycling is provided by Republic Services, which is contracted by the city to collect trash and recyclables. Educating citizens on the do’s and don’ts of the recycling program is a joint effort. Together Republic Services and the City create and provide educational material for the citizens. For energy conservation, Idaho Power already does a good job of encouraging residents to be conscientious about energy use, and Ada County already requires vehicles to have their emissions tested every two years. As mayor, I will also encourage and support LEED certified / Green building projects.
Should the city put more resources toward services for homeless individuals and domestic violence victims? Why or why not? It bothers me that within the City of Meridian there are little-to-no resources for homeless individuals or domestic abuse victims. Our one main resource in this area is the Meridian Foodbank, but our underserved populations have needs beyond hunger. The problems of our hidden homeless teen population were made known to me by a local football coach. He told me about high school students, whom he called “sofa surfers.” These are usually kids aged 16 – 18 who are technically homeless, but they have a car. They don’t want to go to a homeless shelter, because then they’ll be forced to give up their car. I helped this coach create a non-profit to help these kids. The non-profit coordinated with local area businesses and the school district to provide resources such as gas cards, food money, and clothes. We have many caring people in our community. Because of my collaborative management style, as mayor I will encourage people to involve themselves in the creation or expansion of non-profit organizations to help our underserved population. And, as mayor, I will work to get the word out about these organizations so that people know where to go to get the help they need.
Name: Robert Simison
- Age: 46
- Education: Whitman College, Bachelor of Arts
- Website: simisonformeridian.com
- Bankruptcies or misdemeanor/felony convictions? No
Occupation and relevant work experience: I have 22 years of legislative, management, and leadership experience working for our taxpayers and senior-level support of high-profile elected officials at the local government and national levels. My work has focused on strategic planning; budgeting; constituent services; policy making at the local, state and federal levels; and problem solving in order to advance policy priorities and deliver exceptional services to the public.
Chief of Staff for Mayor Tammy de Weerd, City of Meridian (2007 – Current)
Professional Staff Member, U.S. Congress House Committee on Energy and Commerce (1997-2007)
Past political experience: Worked for elected officials in various capacities for 22 years. Volunteered on numerous campaigns and ballot issues. Candidate for the Idaho State House of Representatives, District 21A (2012).
Endorsements: Mayor Tammy & Jan de Weerd, Marge & the late Former Councilman Keith Bird, Former Councilman Brad & Chandos Hoaglun, Former Councilman Charlie & Nancy Rountree, Former Councilman David & Renee Zaremba, Former Councilman Bob Giesler, Former Sheriff Gary & Angela Raney, Senator Chuck & Dianne Winder, West Ada Trustee Mike Vuittonet, Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane, ACHD Commissioner Kent & Marina Goldthorpe, Former State Senator Roger & Leslie Madsen, Former State Senator Joyce & Darrel McRoberts, Meridian Fire Fighters Local 4627, Boise Regional Realtors, Tommy and Shanna Ahlquist, Dennis & Kathy Johnson, and Brand Swindell. Visit simisonformeridian/endorsements/ for complete list
Why are you running for this office: I am running to ensure that Meridian remains the best community to live, work, and raise a family. I care deeply for our community. For the last 12 years, I have been part of the leadership team for the City of Meridian. I have been an integral part of the team that delivers on the vision of a premier community, as such I believe I can take our efforts to the next level. To remain a ‘best place’ to live, it is critical we manage growth with competent and proven leadership. I know the job, the city directors, our city employees and the culture we have built. I have been collaborating with, and serving, the citizens of Meridian on a number of issues from the update of the city’s comprehensive plan to transportation solutions – I’m excited to work with citizen groups and stakeholders on issues like open space, housing, and community character. Collaboration is critical - I have effective working relationships with our partners throughout the Treasure Valley and the State of Idaho to address issues and bring solutions. This is how we approached the Meridian Interchange Rebuild to get it funded and built.
What are your top three priorities if elected: Quality services. Continue to provide the best possible services to the community as we grow and evolve. This takes careful strategic planning in areas of Police, Fire, Community Development, Public Works, and Parks. I am passionate about the well-being of Meridian and our citizens - this is a primary function we can never lose sight of. Connected transportation network. It is important that we connect and build our infrastructure to make it easier getting from ‘Point A to Point B’ for our residents. I will prioritize the use of City funds to leverage transportation agencies and private sector funding to construct needed road improvements, off-road pathways, and connect sidewalks to fill gaps in the mobility network. As the center of the Valley, we handle traffic impacts from the surrounding areas, including our own. “The buck stops with me”. As Mayor, I plan to take greater responsibility that all public services are met, regardless of who delivers them. I would build on the relationships and develop public plans in collaboration with Ada County Highway District, West Ada School District, ITD and others in how best to serve Meridian. Transportation and Education are critical focus areas for our community.
Why should voters select you over your opponents: I have proven experience; positive results; demonstrated leadership. For the last 12 years I have worked alongside our current Mayor and serve as part of the City’s senior leadership team. Unlike others, I know what being the CEO of Meridian truly entails and have the ability to step in on Day One and continue to provide the premier services to our community that residents expect – transitioning with little interruption. We are facing challenges with growth, now is not the time for on-the-job training. I have a dozen years of relationships built which means I know the job, the city directors, our city employees and the culture we have built. I have spent the last twelve years listening to, and working with, our residents and business community. I have effective working relationships with our partners throughout the region. I believe leadership is action, and I’m an achiever. As Mayor I will be ready to take on the responsibility for all aspects of Meridian in order to meet the expectations of the community related to city services and roads, schools, libraries and more. I will strongly advocate for responsible growth, local traffic solutions, safe neighborhoods and community engagement.
Concerns about growth and how it is affecting schools, roads and infrastructure are a common topic at public forums. Do you think the city should be limiting growth? Why or why not: Growth is important, and I strongly believe we have one chance to get it right. Growth, and how we grow, is the underlying issue in this election as it impacts what people are concerned about - traffic and schools. Growth needs to be responsible which means the city, government partners, development community, and residents need to be on the same page and working together to execute on a plan. Responsible growth needs to add value and contribute to a premier community, not take away from it. That is the lens through which I will look at growth in our community. The best ways to help address growth in Meridian is to guide growth to where we have existing city services, improved roads with sidewalks, and space in our schools. Here are ways we can help limit how/when/where we grow: Encourage infill development projects to slow the rate of development on the City’s edge. Implement the publicly adopted Comprehensive Plan and grow to the plan while ensuring the city, and its partner agencies, can effectively serve it once approved. Only consider Comprehensive Plan amendments every six months for the next five years.
With Meridian being one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, what are your plans to ensure economic development keeps up with residential growth: Our economic development efforts are focused on attracting employers paying family wage jobs and bringing services closer to where people live. Our businesses are not only bringing jobs to Meridian, they are adding good paying jobs. A great example is the Ten Mile area which was planned for development over a decade ago. We began with a vision, created a plan, executed the plan through a public/private partnership and forming an urban renewal area. When coupled with road infrastructure, we have seen the success of this process. We must: Continue leveraging efforts with the business community to create family wage jobs. Capitalize on our central location in the valley to attract employers so our residents can live and work in Meridian. Build on our strengths focusing on industry clusters and with a qualified and trained workforce. Invest in our infrastructure. Additionally, we need to build on the efforts and successes of the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine and ISU Meridian - these education institutions are changing the face of healthcare. Further, by connecting their efforts along with Meridian-based St. Luke’s, Saltzer, Blue Cross, Urology Institute of Idaho – we will continue to grow healthcare/technology and research opportunities.
Many Meridian residents are concerned about the number of apartments and multifamily developments being built in the city. What are your thoughts on density? Density can and should exist in a city, but the question is “where should it be and why?” In order to find balance and success with multifamily, I believe that land use and transportation must be fully integrated through short and long range plans. This is a challenge because Meridian does not plan our own roads, which is why it’s imperative we work even closer with our partner road agencies – the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) and the Ada County Highway District (ACHD). The update of the City’s Comprehensive Plan, which will be considered over the next several months, will align this concept by locating multi-family developments in areas that can be served by transit in the future – generally along Overland and Franklin Roads. This has the ability to help with the transportation impacts from greater density by making public transportation available in areas that are more densely populated. However, we also need to make sure we are not over-burdening our school system with the same plan.
Over the past two years, the Meridian Development Corporation and the city have asked developers to submit proposals for two redevelopment projects in downtown. How do you feel about the city’s efforts to revitalize its downtown? I support the current efforts in downtown and have been involved indirectly. The city has been able to take key pieces of property, work with the Meridian Development Corporation and private sector, to pursue projects that will be cornerstones for downtown. This will bring vitality to the center of our community and a great live/work balance. The mixed-use projects in this process (or being discussed) will provide residential housing to support existing and future downtown businesses, bring new employers, and provide gathering places in our downtown. This will help create the vibrant heart the community has been asking for in our historic downtown Meridian.
What is the city’s duty, if any, to be environmentally conscientious or offer residents the tools to do so: Meridian needs to take the lead as it relates to environmental issues. This should be the case in terms of the energy we use (or don’t use), the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the waste we produce in our homes. As a City, we have been forward-thinking with energy efficient buildings, but we can do more. We can look at using electric/hybrid vehicles to help reduce carbon emissions, consider investing in solar to help power our facilities, and increase our conversion of streetlights to LED bulbs. The City is responsible for developing sustainability plans to deal with the waste that is generated from homes – be it trash or sewage – and the cost and manner of disposal or treatment. It is essential for the City to inform residents about steps they can take to lessen the burden on citizens and the environment. Ultimately it will be the residents who pay the cost for any long-term issues that are not addressed today - such as a new landfill, waterway pollution, impacts to our underground water supply, and our air quality. We must educate our community about how they can be part of the solution.
Should the city put more resources toward services for homeless individuals and domestic violence victims? Why or why not: Meridian’s homeless population may not be as visual as some, but we still have people who are homeless, they just bounce from home to home, couch to couch. We need to make sure these people and families know the resources available to them in our valley. The resources currently exist through a network of providers/non-profits who have located their services near one another. These providers are not looking to expand their services to other cities due to the high cost of trying to duplicate services.
Should the city put more resources toward services for homeless individuals and domestic violence victims? Why or why not: West Ada sees has seen its fair share of domestic violence cases and unfortunate trauma resulting from those cases. However, our police department policy where we would arrest in the case of a clear instigator was required to change following a recent Idaho Supreme Court case. We are working through efforts to keep our residents safe as a result. We participate in FACES, but if the new protocols show a change in behavior that needs addressing, then Meridian should lead the efforts in creating a Domestic Violence Task Force. By working together with agencies across the valley our subject matter experts can develop plans to reduce the instances of domestic violence in our community.
Name: Shaun Wardle
- Age: 44
- Education: Bachelor of Science, Communication - University of Idaho
- Website: www.shaunwardle.com
- Bankruptcies or misdemeanor/felony convictions? No
Occupation and relevant work experience: Owner, D1 Training. Commercial Real Estate Agent with Lee & Associates.
Past political experience: Elected to Meridian City Council 2003. Elected as Chairman of the Western Ada Recreation District.
Why are you running for this office: I’ve always dreamed of serving as the Mayor of my hometown, and right now Meridian needs a CEO. My understanding of business principles will help our community be more efficient and find new ways to serve our citizens. As a business executive at the Idaho Athletic Club, I managed over 350 employees and ensured the family enterprise continued its success in our community. Today, I am a Meridian business owner who contributes to our growing economy. Managing budgets, executing initiatives, and ensuring the best people have proper resources are all examples of my experience the City needs today. Leadership Innovation Common Sense.
What are your top three priorities if elected? Transparency: My administration will form the first independent office of Government Accountability in Meridian. The citizens of our community deserve not just information, but the ability to have their concerns addressed through an accessible process. Traffic: Meridian is a suburban environment in need of traffic mitigation. Wider streets and intersection improvements are required to solve the problems associated with congestion. Public Safety: As people move to our town, we are experiencing traffic crashes and increasing crime. We must commit the proper resources to our departments, but also be innovative in our approach.
Why should voters select you over your opponents: I am the only candidate with Executive leadership experience in a large organization, I have successfully managed a sizeable team and millions of dollars in revenue. Our campaign is about ideas and providing solutions to our community’s pressing issues. My opponents are currently part of the system creating higher taxes and traffic congestion. I will address spending issues at the City of Meridian and make sure our tax dollars are being allocated appropriately.
Concerns about growth and how it is affecting schools, roads and infrastructure are a common topic at public forums. Do you think the city should be limiting growth? Why or why not: Growth in Meridian is out of control. Many in our community have been here for generations, paying for roads, schools, and fire stations. We need to make sure that everyone is paying their fair share. I propose that out of state home buyers wait 3 years before being granted a homeowner’s exemption.
With Meridian being one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, what are your plans to ensure economic development keeps up with residential growth: Our community has added shopping and employment opportunities to complement our safe neighborhoods and parks. The focus should be on creating living wage jobs that can support families. This means supporting and encouraging existing companies that seek to grow and expand in Meridian. Small businesses are still the core of our community and will help drive a positive economy.
Many Meridian residents are concerned about the number of apartments and multifamily developments being built in the city. What are your thoughts on density: Meridian is a suburban environment consisting primarily of single-family homes. Our community should continue this trend, and higher density projects should develop in and around the downtown core.
Over the past two years, the Meridian Development Corporation and the city have asked developers to submit proposals for two redevelopment projects in downtown. How do you feel about the city’s efforts to revitalize its downtown: I have been a champion of redevelopment in downtown Meridian and remain committed to achieving that success. It is encouraging to finally see progress on new projects. Meridian must have a vibrant, walkable urban core that encourages business innovation and investment. MDC must refocus efforts to solve the impending parking crisis in downtown and provide congestion relief by connecting Broadway to Locust Grove. Our future planning needs to include revitalization of the 3 aging shopping centers at the northern entrance of Main St. – Fairview Ave - Meridian Rd. - Cherry Ln.
What is the city’s duty, if any, to be environmentally conscientious or offer residents the tools to do so: Meridian needs to be an innovator in environmental stewardship. We should provide additional recycling opportunities such as composting and find more ways to keep material out of the landfill. Our efforts should create attainable goals to reduce the community’s carbon footprint and solid waste output. We can have an impact on water conservation by focusing on our Parks system and creating opportunities through community design.
Should the city put more resources toward services for homeless individuals and domestic violence victims? Why or why not: Charitable organizations are engaged in assistance efforts for homeless individuals, and we should encourage their success. Domestic violence victims need the support and protection of our police force, and we should add resources in this area. We as a community need to support and protect our families.