Six candidates submitted their names for Meridian City Council’s open seat; however, it appears one withdrew from consideration. The remaining five include a former ISU — Meridian official, a former city councilor and a far-right activist.
Meridian City Councilor Treg Bernt said last month he would resign after winning election to the state Legislature.
“The Mayor is reviewing applications and plans to bring a recommendation forward after Treg’s term has ended,” Meridian Communications Manager Stephany Galbreaith said in an email.
The applicants had to live in District 4, because of new rules around redistricting. Earlier this year, the Meridian City Council approved new city council districts, where each seat corresponds to a geographic area of Meridian. The Idaho Press obtained the resumes and letters of interest for the applicants through a public records request.
Moving forward, the mayor will appoint the next Meridian councilor, with the approval of the city council. To give Meridian residents an idea of who is up for the job, the Idaho Press spoke to the people who submitted resumes and letters of interest.
Meridian resident Michael Hon first ran for city council in 2021, challenging Republican Councilor Luke Cavener from the right. He lost by 56 votes. Since then, he has lost a bid for the Idaho House of Representatives and has been involved in activism against the Meridian Library.
Hon was part of a group that served the Meridian Library District Board of Trustees in April with letters relating to potential tort claims, he spoke at a library meeting in August and he toured the Meridian Library with Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin in early November.
“This means that anyone residing within the Meridian Library Tax District is paying for graphic and disturbing obscene material – including child pornography – being made available to our children,” he wrote in an op-ed earlier this year. “By no accident, this material is clearly designed to sexualize and confuse our minor children about their gender and sexuality.”
Hon previously told the Idaho Press he is an associate broker and developer and originally from New York City. He moved to the Treasure Valley in 1991 to work at Micron and has lived in Meridian since 2018.
“I just want to help the city of Meridian,” Hon said, when reached by phone Thursday. He did not answer further questions.
His resume said he had visited many places in the United States and overseas but had never seen a place quite like the Treasure Valley, in terms of quality of life, access to the outdoors and a cosmopolitan lifestyle.
“Meridian is at a major inflection point,” Hon wrote in his letter of interest. “I welcome the opportunity to serve on the City Council, to support our community and to ensure that Meridian is headed in the right direction.”
Katsilometes previously worked as a dean of academic programs and associate vice president of University Programs for Idaho State University — Meridian. She has lived in Idaho since 1970, but lived in Pocatello for many years. She has resided in Meridian since 2007, she said.
Originally, Katsilometes is from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She retired from ISU — Meridian in 2016 but is still active on volunteer boards, she said.
“The reason I applied is because my whole career has been about public service,” Katsilometes said. “I wanted to see if I could make a contribution because of my experience and knowledge through the years.”
She said the biggest issues facing Meridian are extensive growth and land use. Growth is a good thing, Katsilometes said, but presents its own challenges.
Katsilometes has a background in affordable housing and land use issues, she said. Her letter of interest said she served on the city of Pocatello’s Community Development Commission. She also served as AARP Idaho’s volunteer state president.
Meridian, like everywhere, has seen its fair share of division and political polarization, from the library to city council races to differences on how to handle growth.
“I think being a good leader means being a good listener,” she said. “And being able to hear the different voices and opinions people have.”
Her favorite place to eat in Meridian is Gino’s Italian Ristorante-Bar.
“I continue to be actively engaged and effective in efforts to help community, such as my work with Compassionate Communities Idaho,” she wrote in her letter of interest. “In summary, I would be privileged to have an opportunity to bring my knowledge and experience to the collaborative deliberations of the City Council.”
Krusiewicz is the senior vice president of Burnham Benefits, a benefits advisory firm. He’s lived in Meridian for one year, after moving from California. He moved here because of a better alignment with his values and way of life, as well as a “basic expectation of kindness.”
“I care very much about preserving what makes Idaho and Meridian so special,” Krusiewicz said.
He said the biggest issues facing Meridian include the tactical challenges of growth, which he said requires strategy.
“The values of the community show up in how we plan,” Krusiewicz said.
When it comes to homelessness and workforce housing, Krusiewicz said Meridian has done well but can learn from neighboring cities on what works and doesn’t work.
“How do we manage growth? How do we manage housing?” Krusiewicz said. “How do we preserve our family values, how do we preserve this culture of kindness? How do we preserve this culture of family first?”
Not all growth is bad growth, he said, but some can be bad and some can be good. For example, he said when people who come from out-of-state they can understand how bad things can actually be. Krusiewicz said he had seen what happens when bad ideas take root and how harmful it can be when he lived in California.
“My dad grew up in communist Poland … and came to America and built a life for himself,” Krusiewicz said. “I know what the alternative is. And if Idaho is not careful and if Meridian is not careful, we will espouse bad ideas and make decisions that reflect those bad ideas in a way that harms our people.”
His favorite place to eat in Meridian is the Tavern at Eagle Island.
Overton declined to comment for this article.
From 1989 to 2017 Overton worked for the Meridian Police Department. Since then, he has been involved with the Woodbridge Homeowners Association and served as president the last three years.
“I have always had a passion for this city,” Overton wrote in his interest letter. “I went to Meridian Jr. High School and Meridian High School and have watched this city grow from a very small size of less than 9,000 people in 1990 to what it is today.”
He wrote that he sat on various committees related to traffic issues during his time with the city. He also said he supervised the School Resource Officer program and worked with West Ada. Overton added that he was in charge of the division that built up the Meridian Anti-Drug Coalition.
Overton also noted his work with planning and building to incorporate crime prevention through environmental design. He also handled licensing approvals for the City Clerk’s Office when they needed police approval or background checks for things like ice cream truck drivers, the letter said.
He also said he was involved with the police and city budget process for years.
“I’ve had the good fortune to work with every department in the city at some point,” Overton said. “I believed back then that the only way to be successful was by working together as a collaborative team. … I would like the opportunity to carry on that belief.”
Wardle is a former Meridian city councilor, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2019.
He is a fifth-generation Idahoan. His great-grandfather moved to Eagle “a long, long time ago.” He graduated from Meridian High School, when Meridian had substantially fewer people.
“I had a good feeling that Treg was going to be elected to the Senate,” Wardle said. “When I saw the announcement, I felt the need to continue to serve my community.”
The biggest issues facing Meridian include prosperity, transportation, growth and safety, he said.
Prosperity includes jobs, economic development and the ability to grow a business, Wardle said.
“My family had the good fortune to be able to grow not just family but a business here in Meridian,” Wardle said.
Meridian is “challenged” with traffic, Wardle said, and a major challenge is congestion.
“And as the city grows and the population grows, Meridian is a to and through community,” Wardle said. “So I find the transportation related issues are very important.”
When he was previously on the council, Wardle said the council dealt with a high volume of growth and long meetings about land use issues that are very important to people.
Meridian and society generally has become divided.
“The first thing that I can tell you I will do as a leader, continue to do as leader is to listen,” Wardle said. “I truly believe that we can find common ground when it comes to our community.”
His favorite place to eat in Meridian is Epi’s A Basque Restaurant.