In the Caldwell City Council race for Seat 6, we see a lot of promise in Evangeline Beechler’s vision.
Beechler, a clinical supervisor of a developmental disabilities agency, faces former state Sen. John McGee in the Dec. 3 runoff election.
McGee certainly has a better understanding of the issues — he served in the Senate for seven years and has been involved with downtown Caldwell revitalization. But his past conduct in office with a female Senate staffer is such that the public should be hesitant to give McGee another position of power. McGee was accused of sexually harassing his staffer, and he later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor distrusting the peace and served 39 days in jail.
We invited McGee to come speak to our editorial board and were disappointed he couldn’t fit it into his schedule.
Beechler lacks understanding of some of the basic issues she would encounter on city council — such as urban renewal and local-option tax. But we trust she could learn quickly, and her work for the past 15 years has involved managing a budget and implementing state and federal policies. It’s easier to learn about city issues than it is to learn how to handle one’s position of power with respect and humility. Though we believe McGee can repent, change and move on, we have not seen the level of remorse from him that would convince us he’s ready to hold elected office again.
The runoff election has gotten ugly. Beechler chairs the Idaho Democratic Party, but she herself has not made this a partisan race. She has stayed focused on the issues and the residents of Caldwell. The morning after the election, Beechler said Caldwell residents contacted her with questions about whether city code called for a runoff — not the other way around.
A major theme of Beechler’s campaign has been accessibility. She wants the city’s literature, website and meetings to be more accessible to the Latino community by producing material in Spanish as well as in English. With Latinos comprising over a third of Caldwell’s population, this step is a no-brainer. Council members, Beechler said, should visit different parts of town to hold town halls and listening sessions.
Beechler said she goes downtown Caldwell almost every day with her family to enjoy the plaza, bookstore, coffee shop and restaurants. But, through her work in behavioral health, she interacts with Caldwell families who don’t get to enjoy those same small luxuries. Some kids have never been to the plaza, often because their parents are working two jobs to make ends meet. Because of that, one of Beechler’s priorities is attracting more family-wage jobs to the city.
“I got involved in this race because I really want our community to do well,” she told our editorial board.
This is Beechler’s second run for city council, in addition to a run for state Senate. When “applying” for such a big job, it’s crucial to do your homework. Beechler said she’s only been to one city council meeting in the past year or so. Her reason for this is having a toddler at home, which is understandable, but this is a challenging commitment, and she would be better prepared to take the reins with some more prep work.
We appreciate Beechler’s desire to learn, to listen and to bring more voices to the table that historically weren’t given much attention.
With this endorsement, we challenge Beechler to rise to the occasion by learning about land-use, urban renewal and funding issues Caldwell is facing. That, paired with her vision to serve residents from all walks of life, will serve voters well.