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Boise City Council president details process behind Councilmember Sanchez's lost seat

Former Boise City Council member Lisa Sanchez moved to a new home in Boise outside her district, which inadvertently forced her to vacate her seat.

BOISE, Idaho — A week ago, at Boise City Council, it was a very memorable meeting. Council member Elaine Clegg got news minutes before the meeting began.

“We just learned that Councilmember Sanchez may no longer be a legal resident of the district she was elected in,” Clegg said.  

For that reason, councilmember Lisa Sanchez was absent from the meeting. That major meeting also included the election of a new council president. Holli Woodings became the new President of Boise City Council, a council now short one member.

“It's a lot different than I thought it was going to be. The policy discussions that we've been having are not the ones I was expecting to be having this week,” Woodings said.  

Discussions in Wooding's first week centered on the status of Sanchez.

“According to Idaho State statute, it's very clear that Councilmember Sanchez, I believe, inadvertently vacated her position on Boise City Council by moving out of her district,” Woodings said. “We informed Lisa Sanchez that she had vacated her seat. Now, that's an open seat, and it will be up to the mayor to appoint somebody to fulfill the rest of that. The rest of that term.”

Did City Council know that this was going on in the background?

“I think we were all aware that Lisa was moving, but we didn't know where she was moving to, and that's where the confusion came in. We found out about 5 minutes prior to last Tuesday's meeting that she had moved to an address that was outside of the district where she was elected,” Woodings explained.  

Woodings believes the whole situation was unintentional.

“I think it's completely unintentional and although it feels a little bit messy because it's a new thing for us, it's completely contemplated in state statute. And so it feels messy. The process has been a little bit messy, but the law is really clear,” Woodings said.   

So for now, the Boise Mayor’s Office will work on a process to nominate a replacement for Sanchez. City Council approves nominations. That person needs to simply be an elector in the district that has lived there for at least 30 days.

So hypothetically, could it be possible that former council member Sanchez could move back into district 3 and be reestablished for 30 days, making her eligible to be appointed?

“Yeah, absolutely,” Woodings said.

City Council is focused on getting to work, and Woodings is ready to set the tone as the new president.

“I think the biggest topic we have to tackle this year is the zoning code rewrite. It's been years in the making. We've heard so much feedback from our community, have really made some great strides in responding to that feedback that we've heard in crafting a zoning code rewrite that really reflects what we see is the future for our city. And so I'm very much looking forward to that. It's, I think, one of the most exciting projects that we've been able to do in my time on council,” Woodings said.  

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