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TREASURE VALLEY — Thousands of Treasure Valley voters stood in line at the polls Tuesday to cast their ballots in local elections, which many said are important to participate in to ensure their voices are heard.

The turnout at the O’Connor Field House in Caldwell appeared strong on Election Day, with a line that stretched from the entrance all the way to the parking lot.

Canyon County reported a turnout of 15,887 as of Tuesday night. Ada County Elections tweeted on election night that more than 64,000 voters cast their ballots.

Those in line at the event center who were interviewed acknowledged the importance of voting in local elections, and many of them highlighted the Caldwell mayoral race as particularly significant this year. Five individuals were on the ticket to replace Garret Nancolas, who is stepping away after a 24-year tenure in office.

Mayoral candidates on the ballot were Jorge Arancivia, Nicole Hyland, Chris Trakel, Jarom Wagoner and John McGee.

McGee was a main talking point among voters on Tuesday. He was a former senator who served jail time after allegedly sexually harassing a staffer and crashing his car while driving under the influence. McGee resigned from the Senate in 2011 and later served jail time for disturbing the peace in relation to the sexual assault allegation.

Virginia Downey, a Caldwell resident, said voting in a local election is important because she believes people have more control at the local level. She wanted to pick a candidate that would respect sexual assault survivors.

“I feel strongly as a survivor of sexual violence that it is important for us to make sure whoever we have in office is someone who is able to understand where victims are coming from,” Downey said.

Teresa Shively said that the controversy surrounding McGee factored into why she cast her vote.

“I definitely want to have a voice in what’s happening in my local community,” Shively said. She stressed that she wanted to avoid too much extremism in politics.

“We want to make sure we’re going to continue to go in the positive direction that we have been,” Shively said in relation to Caldwell as a whole.

Other residents like Zandra Pedroza said she is participating because the candidate she is voting for is a Caldwell native, local businessman and College of Idaho alumnus, who she believes knows what’s best for the city.

“To make a difference, you have to vote in your local election. That’s where it starts,” Pedroza said.

McGee also had strong local backing going into the election, including endorsements from Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue and Caldwell native Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston.

In an email leading up to the election, Lodge said McGee “understands the needs of the community, promotes economic development, is a member of Caldwell centered organizations, coaches his kids teams and has been a long time resident of Caldwell.”

Across the Treasure Valley in Ada County, Lowell Scott Middle School had a line out the door when the polls opened at 8 a.m, according to poll workers.

Around noon people slowly trickled in and out to cast their vote, some on their lunch break, others taking time out of their schedule.

Frederick Johnson is one of many who showed up to vote at the middle school. He moved to Idaho from Utah in 2014 and was a previous poll worker for the 2016 presidential election. Johnson expressed his confidence in the election system and how the quality of the work people are doing behind the scenes of an election is thoughtful and secure.

One of the primary issues Johnson voted on was the $14 million West Ada school district supplemental levy, which replaces the existing one expiring in June. The levy would cover teachers salaries, benefits and classroom operations.

Johnson voted in favor of the levy because he believes in education, he said. He has two children and is extremely involved in their schools. Johnson said that those who vote against the levy are more worried about their taxes than Idaho being nearly last in education, which to him is a concerning problem.

“Education is treated with suspicion, with disdain. It’s treated as expensive,” Johnson said. “By coming here and voting for the levy, I’m giving my voice to say I know there are problems, but I see what teachers are doing, their work deserves to be funded and allowed to move forward. To me, it’s more than just about taxes.”

Other voters spoke out against the levy, calling it too expensive.

Ralph Francis was one resident who voted against the levy because he said it would raise his taxes.

“I’m 82 years old and my taxes are high,” he said. “Every penny counts.”

Francis also voted because he believes there are too many “leftist radical people” in government.

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