On Oct. 21, the Associated Students of Boise State University (ASBSU) hosted the first mayoral debate at Boise State. Seven candidates are running for mayor in the Nov. 5 election.
All seven candidates were in attendance at the event, while ASBSU President Kaleb Smith and Greg Hill from the Idaho Policy Institute moderated the debate. Morgan Brummund, ASBSU government relations officer, welcomed the candidates and introduced President Marlene Tromp, who gave opening remarks before the debate.
Discussions were focused on the candidate’s plans for helping with the housing issues in Boise. According to Hill, a survey in 2018 concluded that 48% of Boise State students experienced food insecurity, 47% housing insecurity and 18% experienced homelessness.
Adriel Martinez, one of the seven mayoral candidates, believes it is important to discuss issues such as food insecurity for students across campus.
“As mayor, I would have to work with Boise State, [the]state of Idaho and private donors to have a housing trust, or more like subsidized living, for the students so we can pump money into their housing situation, because there are a lot of college students living out of their cars,” Martinez said.
Smith asked the candidates about inclusion and diversity on campus and, more specifically, what inclusive excellence means to them. Wayne Richey commented that he believes Boise State is on the right track of diversity.
“Everybody should have a chance at an education, and I really think everybody does,” Richey said. “If you look around, people from all walks of life have the ability to go to school.”
Regarding the letter written by state legislatures criticizing the university’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, current mayor David Bieter condemned the statement as “not the Idaho way.” He discussed how Idaho needs to work closely with Boise State University to continue the inclusivity.
“We built a city, a welcoming city. A city that takes that very seriously, whether you are a refugee, an immigrant or whether you’re from California, you’re all welcome here,” Bieter said.
In regards to recent safety incidents, such as the Bronco Alert sent to students about the crime scene in Ann Morrison Park, Hill asked how the incumbents hope to secure the vision of safety in Boise.
“As mayor of the city of Boise that would be a primary focus that we fill those 54 positions and provide the greatest training for our officers,” said candidate Brent Cole. “So that our campus is secure, so our community is safe, our neighborhoods are safe, our children are safe in the city.
Lauren McLean believes that people should feel safe regardless of the crime rate. McLean says the university is a part of the city and it is important that students feel safe on campus.
“What is important in that is one, that we maintain and prevent future incidents and that, most importantly, people feel safe,” McLean said. “And we have to create the environment in which people feel safe to report crimes if there are crimes either on-campus or off-campus.”
Although safety across Boise was a concern of the candidates, the conversation turned to ensuring citizens stay in the city. Candidates were asked about the retention rates of students and people remaining in Idaho and the Treasure Valley.
Rebecca Arnold discussed the effects of wage raises and beneficial internships that are accessible to students and recent graduates.
“We also offer internships to have the students see that there are opportunities at that venue, the city of Boise could do more with that I think,” Arnold said. “And providing those opportunities for students, not only to earn money while in school but see an avenue to stay here in a career.”
Other topics of debate included early education and plans to work with the relationship between the city of Boise and Boise State University. Cortney Nielsen expanded on having a planning committee to bridge the gap and bring the people of the community together.
“Education is truly important, and children and learning, and teachers are important,” Nielsen said. “And empowering those teachers with higher wages and showing them we appreciate everything they are doing [is important]. And children empowering a brain and being creative and engaging with other children I think is exciting and the right direction absolutely.”
The debate was live-streamed on multiple broadcasting outlets, including 6 On Your Side and Boise State’s University Television Production. Multiple students and faculty attended the free two-hour event in the Student Union Building.
Eric Kline, a freshman business administration major, attended the mayoral debates so he can be involved and knowledgeable in local politics.
“Local politics affect our university life and they affect how much we’re paying for college and the safety of our university and they affect our lives when we go into the city,” Kline said. “If the city crumbles, then so will the university and, ultimately, this is a university town. We want to see the town grow and the university grow, so it is important that we see students are involved in the elections.”