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All of the candidates for the three open seats up for election on the Meridian City Council see growth as a top issue facing the city.

Each incumbent will face at least one challenger in this year’s November election.

While Boise is holding its November elections by district, Meridian and Nampa are not. Cities with populations of over 100,000 are required to hold elections by geographic district, but until the 2020 Census results came out in August, Meridian and Nampa’s population estimates were unofficial.

Incumbent Luke Cavener is running against challenger Mike Hon for Meridian City Council seat six. Scott Garbarino filed as a candidate but told the Idaho Press he later chose not to run and will instead support Hon’s run.

Cavener joined the Meridian City Council in 2014. He works as managing director of western advocacy for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with bachelor’s degrees in communications and political science.

Cavener sees growth as the biggest issue facing Meridian. He said it is always a balance to represent newcomers versus longtime residents and said the council updated the comprehensive plan early to provide clear direction.

“I’ve lived here my whole life and so as long as I can remember Meridian’s been growing,” he said. “One of the things that I’ve been doing is trying to be really focused on the regional decisions that we can make that can positively respond to the impacts of growth.”

Hon, an associate broker and developer, is originally from New York City. He moved to the Treasure Valley in 1991 to work at Micron and has lived in Meridian since 2018. Hon graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering graduated from the City University of New York with a Master of Business Administration.

Hon said he wanted to know if people were using the definition of pandemic correctly and indicated the pandemic may no longer exist. He added that the common flu may meet the definition of a pandemic.

“I’m not Dr. Fauci,” Hon said, with a laugh. “I walk out, I get in my car, I go to the store, some people are wearing masks, some people aren’t. Life goes on. The word pandemic, I think, instills fear in a lot of people and I think the media likes to use that word quite a bit.”

A pandemic refers to an epidemic that has spread over multiple countries or continents and is affecting a large number of people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Infection. More than 540,000 cases of COVID-19 were reported worldwide on Sept. 20, according to the New York Times. Over the last week, almost every single country has reported cases.

Hon also said a major issue was community growth, and that he would like to get Meridian residents more involved in city meetings. He added that he wanted the process of growth to be transparent.

Incumbent Treg Bernt and challenger Adam Nelson are running for Meridian City Council seat four.

Bernt graduated from Idaho State University with a bachelor’s degree in speech communication. He owns his own flooring business. He is currently city council president and was elected to the council in 2017. He has lived in Meridian since 2003.

Bernt said his top issues were growth, a “thriving and healthy” downtown corridor, economic development and public safety.

He said there’s a fine line between personal property rights and growth and said the council has done as good a job as possible balancing both interests.

“My opponent is a good guy,” Bernt said. “We’re sort of at an intersection of growth, and I think it’s really important that we have elected officials who are intimately aware of the comprehensive plan that we have in place that have experience making tough decisions.”

Nelson is managing partner at the Meridian Speedway. He was born in Boise, graduated from Borah High School and has lived in Meridian pretty much ever since.

He said most people view traffic and infrastructure as Meridian’s top issues.

“I’ve taken a stance that I don’t really feel that Meridian’s on a wrong path,” Nelson said. “I feel like new eyes and fresh people from election to election is kind of a key thing that citizens need to remember. I don’t believe we’re supposed to be setting people up in a career on the city council.”

Incumbent Joe Borton and challenger Hunter Wolf are running for Meridian City Council seat two.

Borton has served on the council from 2005 to 2008 and from 2013 through the present. He is managing partner of Borton-Lakey and has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Oregon. He also has a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Idaho.

Borton grew up in the Treasure Valley.

Borton said Meridian’s top issues are “managed and efficient growth,” public safety and “promoting the creative and diverse employment and housing options.”

“I’ve got experience with what has helped make Meridian the greatest city in the state and have played a key part in that success,” Borton said. “I’ve spent 20 years actively engaged and helping lead our community.”

Wolf did not respond to a request for comment from the Idaho Press.

Carolyn Komatsoulis covers Meridian and Ada County. Contact her at 208-465-8107 and follow her on Twitter @CKomatsoulis.

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