BOISE — A northwest Boise resident looking for a shake up in local government has stepped up to run for a seat on city council in November.
Debbie Lombard-Bloom, 53, is running with a campaign focused on limiting urban renewal, scaling back tax increases in the city and pushing back against some of Mayor Dave Bieter’s large scale projects. Her husband runs a construction business and she previously worked at the Idanha Hotel before it closed, and Lowes.
She said in recent years she has been frustrated by city council members being “in lock step” with Bieter, being combative with the state and other local government entities and not listening to residents, instead of trying to find collaborative solutions.
“Boise just wants things a certain way and to look a certain way, like Portland, so they push that through without engaging with the neighbors,” she said. “ … They pretend to listen and forge ahead anyway. I think you can come up with better ideas by actually listening to everybody.”
Lombard-Bloom said the city’s planning for the new $85 million main library project designed by world-famous architect Moshe Safdie is a major frustration of hers because of the high price tag that was initially supposed to go throughout without a direct vote from residents. However, this could change after a ballot initiative campaign and changes to state legislation but it is still unclear if the project will be on the ballot. She likened the city’s work to replace the library to someone trying to purchase a vehicle out of their price range.
“You’ve got a budget that will let you buy a Lexus, which is a pretty nice car, but you interview somebody off of the supercar lot instead that builds buildings in Vancouver and SLC (Salt Lake City), which are on two entirely different economic levels than Boise,” she said. “When you have a budget of a Lexus and you’re trying to buy a supercar I do take exception to that.”
While she does not have as much direct knowledge of the proposed sports park public-private partnership that residents have been calling for a vote on as well, she said she is supportive of votes on both projects.
Lombard-Bloom would like to see city council working closer with the state legislature and Ada County Highway District to find solutions on public transportation. Currently Boise is not permitted to level a local-option tax to specifically fund more transportation by state law, which Bieter has repeatedly expressed frustration about.
“The Mayor and city council and (city) staff need to open up and stop having their little silo of a city and you have to work with the city and you have to stop disparaging (Idaho and ACHD) and saying, ‘They won’t let me do that,’ and that’s why they can’t move forward,” she said. “You need to find another way, you can’t just say, ‘My hands are tied I can’t do anything but I wish I could.’”
On affordable housing, she said she is not familiar with all of the details of the city’s Grow Our Housing plan to address the growing affordability crisis in the city, but she is supportive of the city’s plan to create an affordable housing land trust. Lombard-Bloom would like to see the city change its zoning to allow taller residential buildings in the downtown core and make it easier for home owners to create apartments within their homes to rent to offset their mortgage and make the city denser to make room for more people.
Lombard-Bloom is the third candidate to enter the race for city council in November. Her other opponents include Boise Bicycle Project Director Jimmy Hallyburton and Brady Fuller, an employee of a small tech company in downtown. Council Member Scot Ludwig opted not to run again, leaving an open seat on council. The seats held by City Council President Lauren McLean and City Council President Pro Tem Elaine Clegg are also up for reelection but neither of them have filed paperwork with the city indicating whether or not they will seek another term.