CALDWELL – After 24 years, Caldwell voters will elect a new mayor next month. Garret Nancolas will not run for a seventh term as the city of Caldwell’s top official, leaving the door open for one of the five candidates vying to replace the longtime mayor.
The race includes a pair of city councilors, a Republican Party committee member and two political newcomers.
Jorge Arancivia is a longtime serviceman with background in information technology, according to his website. Nicole Hyland, a domestic engineer, says Caldwell needs new leadership, and she sees herself as the underdog that fits the role. John McGee and Jarom Wagoner, both current city council members and former state lawmakers, are seeking the next rung on the political ladder. And GOP precinct committee member Chris Trakel is hoping to play the spoiler.
The election is November 2. Also on the ballot are candidates for city council, school district administrators and commissioners for the cemetery, fire and recreation districts as well as bonds and levies.
Arancivia did not respond to a request for an interview, nor did he participate in a recent mayors’ forum. According to its website, Arancivia served in the US Air Force and was stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base. Arancivia then joined the Idaho Air National Guard. He has lived in Idaho for 25 years.
“I want this place to stay great and I want to help make it even better,” says Arancivia’s website. “My platform is simple… use the power of mayors [sic] office to ensure that local government stays out of your life as much as possible while using the resources people have donated to this office to enrich the lives of those who give, the people of Caldwell.
Hyland is a domestic engineer who was fired when COVID-19 closed her office. This allowed him to focus on his campaign, which is based on upholding Caldwell’s community and family values and bringing a new perspective to managing growth.
“We have a ‘good old boys’ system in our city council,” she told Idaho Press. “They are older, they have been there for a long time, they are stagnant. Their idea of doing things doesn’t work.
In particular, Hyland believes the council has approved too many multi-family developments, rather than single-family homes, which she says generate more tax revenue.
“The way they’re trying to fight growth is apartments, apartments, apartments, apartments,” she said. “I would really love to take a look at our growth and see what we can do in a more productive way, versus an expensive ‘Hey, hurry up and let’s fix this now’ way.
Hyland said she was an “underdog” but had “a lot of good backers.”
“I am grateful for the opportunity,” she added.
McGee is seeking to continue his political comeback after he resigned in disgrace from the Idaho legislature a decade ago following allegations he sexually harassed a Statehouse staff member.
In an interview with Idaho Press, McGee touted his work as a city councilor, including his support for economic development and local businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. McGee said he had the “skills and experience” for the mayor’s office.
“People see my ability to bring people together and bring ideas to life,” he said. “The people of Caldwell understand that I know how to get things done.”
McGee said he hopes to continue Caldwell’s success while managing the impacts of growth. It means supporting development that pays for itself and improves the character of the community, he said. He also advocated for property tax cuts with minimal impact on police and fire departments.
“Caldwell is a great place to live, and it’s being identified more and more every day,” he said. “We have to make sure we keep these high standards. “
McGee served jail time after allegedly sexually harassing a staff member and crashing a car while driving under the influence. McGee resigned his Senate seat in 2011. The following year McGee served 39 days in jail after pleading guilty to disturbing the peace in connection with the harassment of the 25-year-old staff member (he had 39 years old at the time).
The employee told investigators at the time that McGee offered him sex after locking his office door. McGee later called her into his office again, locked the door and asked her to take off her shirt, the woman claimed. She told investigators that she left the room while he was masturbating.
McGee said the residents of Caldwell had “come out” of these incidents and “wanted to talk about the future” rather than the past.
“The people of Caldwell have already voted in my favor twice since these events took place over a decade ago,” he said, referring to a 2019 city council election, when he won a vote in the general election as well as a second round.
Despite his past legal issues, McGee has the backing of Canyon County’s top law enforcement official. Last month Sheriff Kieran Donahue endorsed McGee for mayor, saying in an online video that McGee is an “experienced leader” and a “visionary.”
A native of Caldwell, Senator Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, also endorsed McGee, for her “vision for the future of Caldwell.” In an email, Lodge said McGee “understands the needs of the community, fosters economic development, is a member of organizations focused on Caldwell, coaches his children’s teams and has long resided in Caldwell.” When asked if she considered McGee’s turbulent past before approving it, Lodge said the sexual harassment allegations were “old news.”
Meanwhile, a political action committee, Republicans Against Unethical Politicians, is raising money to oppose McGee’s campaign.
Trakel, a retired sailor and business owner, has focused his campaign on property tax relief and other conservative issues. (The municipal elections are non-partisan, but all five candidates identify as Republicans and / or politically conservative.)
Trakel’s top priority is to deliver “realistic property tax relief” while maintaining the city’s services and infrastructure. One of his goals is to improve services for police officers to encourage them to stay in Caldwell.
“A lot of people think our taxes are too high and hurt residents,” Trakel said in a questionnaire provided by the League of Women Voters. “By reducing unnecessary spending and evaluating our budget from a zero-based budgeting system, we can reduce that burden.”
In a telephone interview, Trakel said he hoped to improve the dialogue between city leaders and residents, who “don’t feel very well listened to.” He suggested strengthening public comment periods at city council meetings and holding monthly town halls with the mayor and council members.
As a member of the GOP precinct committee since 2018, Trakel said, he has experience communicating local issues to state lawmakers. And as a sergeant in the military, Trakel said, he managed operations, housing, personnel and a budget that exceeded $ 1 million.
He is also opposed to public health mandates related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Each individual has to decide what is right and take responsibility for deciding for themselves,” Trakel said in the questionnaire.
Wagoner is an elected elected city planner who was appointed to a vacant seat in the Idaho House of Representatives in 2017 and was elected to Caldwell City Council in 2019.
Wagoner has over 15 years of experience as a town planner for various Treasure Valley agencies including Canyon County, Ada County Highway District and the Town of Caldwell, for which he served as a Senior Land Use Planner for six. years.
“I think all of this experience has helped me prepare for the opportunity to be mayor of Caldwell,” Wagoner said at a candidates’ forum last week.
Wagoner said his experience as a city worker and city councilor provided him with first-hand knowledge of Caldwell’s strengths and weaknesses. In a quiz, Wagoner said he plans to tackle growth and traffic and improve community engagement.
“Caldwell is the place to be,” but Caldwell’s success has created its own problems, Wagoner said at the forum. He plans to update the full city plan map – a development guide – to account for growing issues, such as traffic jams.
“If you don’t plan for it today, you’ll pay for it tomorrow,” he said.
Wagoner also has a soda store in Indian Creek Plaza. He suggested expanding the scope of events and attractions in the square so that other downtown businesses can benefit.
“We live on small businesses,” he said.
Several home builders and developers, including Bradshaw Construction and Brighton Corporation, have supported Wagoner or donated to his campaign. Conservation Voters for Idaho, an environmental advocacy group, also endorsed Wagoner.