Growth, security and taxes are issues in Caldwell ID race for mayor

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The growing town of Caldwell will have a new mayor for the first time in 24 years. Mayor Garret Nancolas has served six terms, voters will have to decide who, among five candidates, will replace their longest-serving mayor.

The runners are Jarom Wagoner and John McGee, both former state lawmakers who became Caldwell city councilors; Nicole Hyland, housewife; Chris Trakel, a retired US Marine; and Jorge Arancivia, who retired from the US Air Force.

Election day is Tuesday, November 2, but Canyon County is already preparing for a run-off between the first two voters.

Caldwell clarified his vague electoral ordinance after the confusion during a 2019 city council race. Now, if a candidate does not get at least 50% of the general election vote, a run-off will take place on November 30 between the two first voters. The 2019 council race was between McGee and two others. He won the second round against Evangeline Beechler.

Growth, public safety and property taxes are key issues. Trakel and Hyland say they support sustainable, self-absorbing growth. Trakel’s main concern is making sure Caldwell’s infrastructure can keep up. Wagoner stressed the importance of maintaining and following a comprehensive Caldwell plan to help guide planning decisions. McGee said he would work closely with planning, police and fire departments to ensure the city adds services to cope with the growth.

The four candidates hope to find ways to retain the Caldwell cops, who some say are leaving town for better-paying jobs elsewhere. Wagoner and Trakel suggest increasing officers’ salaries.

All of the candidates are committed to trying to keep property taxes low. McGee and Wagoner said they would work with local lawmakers to find a solution to the increased residential tax burden.

McGee outperforms the rest, according to campaign finance reports. He raised $ 14,460, mainly from individuals. He received donations of $ 1,000 from Stephens Electric, an electrical contractor in Nampa, McAlvan Companies LLC, a construction company in Boise, and Lifetouch Clinical Services LLC, a home care services company.

Trakel’s campaign raised $ 1,215, Wagoner’s $ 800, and Hyland’s $ 535 she donated.

The mayor has a four-year term. Nancolas earns $ 93,220 per year, according to the Idaho Statesman Employee Salary Database.

Voters will also choose from candidates for three city council seats, two school board seats, and cemetery and fire commissions. Candidates for mayor, in alphabetical order:

Nicole hyland

Hyland, 38, is new to politics and has called herself an “underdog” in the mayoral race. Despite this, she said her experience as a Caldwell resident, taxpayer and mother will bring a healthy outlook. She said her experience helped her identify with “people who are just trying to raise a family and survive.”

Hyland was recently employed at a local company responsible for customer service and administration. She had worked there for 20 years, she said, before the company had to shut down due to COVID-19.

If elected, Hyland said she would craft a most sustainable and least costly plan for taxpayers to deal with the growth.

“I just feel like right now our board is trying to catch up (with growth), and it’s more expensive,” Hyland said over the phone. “So we have to have sustainable growth and so it is not to the detriment of taxpayers.”

John McGee

McGee’s 2019 candidacy marked a political comeback effort.

He resigned from the state Senate in 2012 after being accused of disturbing the peace amid accusations he sexually harassed an employee. McGee told the Statesman he believed “the people of Caldwell got past these things ten years ago.”

But some Caldwell residents did not. Haley Glenn, an Idaho State University nursing student and former legislative page, is the Republican Spearhead Against Unethical Politicians, a political action committee that runs the StopJohnMcGee website.

“He retained his leadership and sexually disturbed the peace of a staff member,” Glenn said. “Time does not absolve you of anything. He didn’t make amends, he didn’t do anything to show people that he is different.

McGee, 48, told the Statesman that Caldwell residents have voted for him in two elections now, making it clear that people are focused on the future.

“These days, with social media and the culture of cancellation, those things will always be brought up, but I’m focusing on what’s best for Caldwell’s future,” McGee previously told the Statesman.

Glenn was one of a handful who picked up the picket line at a Caldwell mayoral candidate forum on Wednesday, October 20. to protest McGee’s candidacy. The forum was hosted by the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce. McGee said in a statement he did not attend the forum due to a conflict of interest with the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce.

McGee told the Statesman in an email that his top priorities if elected were to “continue to leverage assets like Indian Creek Plaza to increase opportunities for families in our community.”

“I will continue to work with police and fire chiefs to retain our best employees,” he said. “I will work to keep Caldwell’s tax rate low.”

Chris Trakel

Trakel, 40, has previously been a candidate for council and legislature. A member of the Republican precinct committee, he is a retired master sergeant in the Marines.

He then opened a small carpentry business in Caldwell which he said was suspended due to COVID-19.

Trakel touts “sustainable growth” rather than “forced growth”. He said what the city has done in recent years is forced growth, as the city needs to be revitalized quickly to accommodate the growing population.

“We used urban renewal to create an environment to revitalize the city,” Trakel said. “The problem is that if we continue with forced growth, we will have a lack of police, unable to keep up with city services. Sustainable growth is more natural.

Trakel said he would let the city’s current urban renewal district expire and fight against the city’s recent plan for a northern urban renewal district.

“Caldwell is back – it’s become a major hot spot,” Trakel said. “We are doing very well, but we cannot continue to pressure taxpayers. Finally, this weight is too important.

Trakel said he hmonthly old town halls with Caldwell residents to better understand their ideas and issues.

Jarom Wagoner

Wagoner, 44, had planned to run for mayor all summer, but in late July doctors discovered a golf ball-sized tumor in his brain.

“Life changes in an instant,” Wagoner said over the phone. “I have three young boys and a wife, so not only has my life changed, but theirs.”

Wagoner’s surgery was scheduled for September, the last day to run for the November 2 election.

“I talked to my wife and we watched who was running, and if there was someone we trusted we thought we wouldn’t run,” Wagoner said. “But looking at the candidates, we didn’t feel good about where this seemed to be going for the mayor.”

Wagoner said his operation “went very well” and that he is recovering well.

Wagoner said he was the best fit for the mayor because of his years of experience in city and county planning.

Wagoner started as a planner for Canyon County in 2005, then worked for a year in private planning before becoming a transportation planner for the Ada County Road District. While living in Caldwell, Wagoner applied to become the city’s planning director in 2013 and held that position for six years.

Wagoner said he understands the importance of long-term planning for growth and development.

“There has never been a better time for the city to have a planner as mayor,” Wagoner said.

Wagoner also hopes to expand the popularity of Indian Creek Plaza to the rest of downtown Caldwell. He wants to invest in improving downtown infrastructure to beautify the neighborhood and encourage visitors.

Wagoner also wants to extend Indian Creek Plaza Road to the north to connect with a city road along the Boise River.

Wagoner filed for bankruptcy in 2010. He and his wife bought a three or four acre property in 2007 to develop it, just before the real estate market collapsed. He subdivided the property, but the bank did not allow him to sell the properties. The couple had to give up their investment.

Jorge Arancivia, who claimed to be an Air Force retiree, also appears on the ballot. He did not respond to the Statesman’s Voter Guide questionnaire, nor to an interview request, and he did not file any campaign fundraising reports.

This story was originally published October 28, 2021 4:00 a.m.


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