BOISE — All 18 candidates for Boise government have been chasing votes this year, and they’ve also been chasing donations to power their campaigns.
On Thursday, the first round of campaign finance reports for the first nine months of 2019 were released to the public, with information on what candidates have raised, who donated to them, and how they spent their funds. Several candidates raked in tens of thousands of dollars in donations over the course of the last several months.
Three city council seats and the mayorship are up for reelection.
This season all eyes have been on the Boise mayor’s race as longtime incumbent Mayor Dave Bieter takes on challengers from across the political spectrum, including City Council President Lauren McLean, former Mayor Brent Coles, Ada County Highway District Commission President Rebecca Arnold, Cortney Nielsen, Adriel Martinez and Wayne Richey.
Bieter topped the charts in fundraising with $225,194 raised during the reporting period, with McLean closely at his heels with $216,263. Donors to Bieter’s campaign included contributions from firefighter unions, prominent politicians, construction companies and top-level city employees.
Notable politicians who chipped in to reelect Bieter include:
- City Council Member Holli Woodings
- Rep. Jake Ellis, D-Boise
- City Council President Pro Tem Elaine Clegg
- Sen. Maryanne Jordan, D-Boise
- Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise
- Sen. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise
- Rep. John McCrostie, D-Boise
Capital City Development Corporation board members Dana Zuckerman and Ryan Woodings, husband of Holli Woodings, also donated. Bieter also received donations from two unions associated with the Boise Fire Department, as well as contributions from fire unions in Eagle, Meridian, Nampa, Ketchum, Caldwell and Middleton.
Unlike McLean, Bieter also took corporate donations from companies including:
- ESI Construction
- The Simplot Company
- Grove Hotel and CenturyLink Arena developer Block 22
- Pacific West Builders
- Barber Valley Irrigation
- HDR Engineering
- Contractor Guho Corp
- Amalgamated Sugar
- Micron Technology
- Communications firm Strategies 360
Strategies 360 has been awarded several public relations contracts from the city of Boise, including lobbying and external communications to promote the F-35s in Boise and a public-private partnership to build a sports park.
City employees who donated to Bieter include:
- Comprehensive Planning Director Daren Fluke
- Director of Community Partnerships Wyatt Schroeder
- Fire Chief Dennis Doan
- Former Economic Development Director Nic Miller
Jeff Eiseman, owner of the Boise Hawks and development partner for the possible sports park project, also donated.
Although McLean raised nearly as much money as Bieter, her donor rolls were far less flashy. She announced early in the campaign that she would take no corporate donations, although she had done so in the past. Notable politicians who contributed to her campaign include:
- Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise
- Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise
- House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding of Boise (who also contributed to Bieter, and is neutral in the race)
McLean was also popular with high-profile opponents to the sports park, including businessman Bill Ilett and Albertsons heir Joe Scott. McLean also took in funds from members of Boise Working Together, which gathered enough signatures to put ballot initiatives before voters related to the main library and the sports park, including Adelia Simplot and Richard Llewellyn.
Other notable donors include Interfaith Sanctuary Executive Director Jodi Peterson and Greater Boise Auditorium District board member Kristin Muchow.
The rest of the field raised far less money during this reporting period. Arnold took in $31,970, roughly $21,000 of this was a loan from herself; the rest were donations from individuals. Coles raised $4,695 all from donors, including $1,000 from Simplot.
Nielsen raised $450, while Martinez and Richey took in no donations. Richey spent $1,233 of his own funds on campaign materials.
PROTECT OUR LIBRARIES PAC
Before the local election began to heat up, the campaign to gather signatures for the twin ballot initiatives asking residents if they wanted to vote on the proposed main library and sports park dominated the conversation in Boise’s political circles.
Weeks before the deadline for signatures, the Protect Our Libraries political action committee launched an effort to discourage voters from signing the petitions for the library ballot initiative. At the time, campaign manager Robert West declined to share the group’s donors, but Bieter later told the Idaho Press after a series of articles on the PAC that he was one of the initial donors that kick-started the effort.
According to the campaign filings, Protect Our Libraries raised $18,000 for the short campaign from only five donors. This included:
- $10,000 from former Democratic gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff
- $5,000 from former Micron Technology CEO Mark Durcan
- $1,000 each from Bieter, City Council Member Scot Ludwig and an LLC associated with Zuckerman, an urban renewal board member
CITY COUNCIL SEAT 1
Six of the 11 candidates for Boise City Council are seeking to fill the seat vacated by McLean.
Patrick Bageant topped the field with $30,081 raised, which included $4,000 from himself.
Notable donors included:
- Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo
- City Council Member TJ Thomson
- California-based Secure Outcomes Protection Inc.
- Boise Fire Fighters union
- Planned Parenthood Northwest
- the Boise Fire Chief Officer’s PAC
- Professional Fire Fighters of Idaho
Former East End Neighborhood President Brittney Scigliano followed close behind with $25,383 raised for her campaign during the reporting period. She received donations from prominent developer and former gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist and Ada County Highway District Commissioner Jim Hansen. Several advocates associated with Boise Working Together, including Simplot, and sports park opponent Illett also chipped in.
Tecle Gebremichael came in third, with $7,825 raised. He received contributions from Balukoff, Thomson, Lachiondo and McLean’s campaign manager Melanie Folwell. Ryan Peck followed close behind with $7,170 raised.
Karen Danley, a northwest Boise resident, took in $5,892 from:
- Llewellyn, Northwest Neighborhood Association president
- North End Neighborhood Association President Mark Baltes
- Former District 15 Democratic candidate and Boise Planning and Zoning Commissioner Jim Bratnober.
Chris Moeness raised $1,019.
CITY COUNCIL SEAT 3
The race for Seat 3 is a two-candidate contest.
Candidates Jimmy Hallyburton and Meredith Stead raised a large amount of money; Stead came out on top with $29,130. She received donations from a variety of companies and politicians, including:
- Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise
- Holli Woodings
In the private sector, Stead was supported by:
- Developer Clay Carley
- Development attorney Hethe Clark
- Planned Parenthood Northwest
- Blackrock Homes LLC
- HHS Construction
- Barber Valley Irrigation and Barber Valley Development.
She also received a donation from her fellow city council candidate Bageant.
Close behind, Hallyburton raised $21,383. Contributors to his campaign included Lachiondo, Schroeder (Boise’s director of community partnerships), and Thomson.
CITY COUNCIL SEAT 5
Clegg is the only incumbent in the city council race, and she faces two challengers.
Debbie Lombard-Bloom collected $22,640, including a $10,000 loan from herself. She also took in donations from:
- GDB Investments LLC
- B&B Steel Erectors
- D&A Glass Company
- Ada County Highway District Commissioner Sara Baker
Clegg raised $13,985, with high-profile contributors including:
- Sens. Jordan and Buckner-Webb
- The Boise Fire Chief Officer’s PAC
- Waste collection company Republic Services
- Boise communication director Mike Journee
The third candidate in the race, Brady Fuller, raised $9,156. Notable contributors included Balukoff and Thomson.
Note: This story has been updated to reflect that Rep. Mat Erpelding donated both to Bieter and McLean and is neutral in the mayor's race.