Here's why you need to pay attention to City Council races

One week out from local elections.

BOISE - We're just one week away from a number of local elections. On the ballot are some school district funding requests, and mayoral and City Council races.

City Council races in two of Idaho's biggest cities, Boise and Meridian, are heavily contested with 13 candidates eyeing three seats in Boise and eight candidates running for three seats in Meridian.

The outcome of these races will determine the direction those cities will take in growth, finances, and infrastructure.

MORE: Candidate bios

When it comes to city elections, KTVB political analyst Dr. Jim Weatherby says 10-20 percent voter turnout is typical.

Weatherby says the focus is usually more on the mayoral candidates - but City Council seats on the ballot are equally as important. 

"The City Council is the legislative branch, or the policy-making body of the city," Weatherby said. "Cities delivier services that affect the daily lives of citizens, and you don't really take those services into consideration until they're disrupted."

City-provided services include police and fire protection, libraries, parks and recreation, among several other services.

VOTER GUIDE: Complete resource for November 2017 elections

City Council members also have a hand in selecting candidates for boards and commissions within the city, including planning and zoning, airport and redevelopment.

"Typically the mayor appoints and then the council confirms it," Weatherby says. "It depends upon the procedures for each. Planning and Zoning Commission is a very important function of city government and that is an appointed body that makes a lot of critical decisions."

Weatherby says there are a lot of important issues relating to the growth and development and the financing of city operations, issues that everyone should consider when voting for a particular candidate.

"They can judge the experience of the candidate, how well grounded they are in the issues and what kind of policy positions they're taking," said Weatherby.

Because low voter turnout is expected, Weatherby says this means that every vote counts.

"Some of these could be determined by a very narrow margin and in most cases, particularly in council races, there is no provision for a run off."

There is still time to vote ahead of Election Day. The last day for early voting and in-person absentee voting is November 3. 

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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