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Boise releases proposed districting map for upcoming election

The districts are necessary per a 2020 state law, which compels cities with 100,000 or more residents to elect council members by geographic districts.
Credit: City of Boise
A map showing proposed districts for Boise's City Council election in November. The Boise City Council will vote Tuesday on an ordinance establishing the districts.

BOISE, Idaho — Editor's Note: This article was originally published in the Idaho Press.

City of Boise officials on Thursday released a proposed map showing districts for city council races this year.

Next week, the Boise City Council will consider an ordinance that establishes the districts for the November election. The ordinance also includes a plan outlining how the districts will be managed in the future.

“The goal of the map is, to the extent possible, to create districts that are equal in population, geographically contiguous and avoid splitting up our recognized neighborhood associations by following recognized districting principles,” said Council President Elaine Clegg in a news release.

The city partnered with Morrison and Associates, a demography consultant, to create the map. The districts meet “recognized districting criteria,” including that they each have similar population numbers and, when possible, they don’t split recognized neighborhoods or election precincts, the release said.

The districts are necessary per a 2020 state law, which compels cities with 100,000 or more residents to elect council members by geographic districts rather than by citywide elections. According to the 2010 census, Boise is the only Idaho city to meet that population threshold. Census data collected last year is expected to be released this fall. That data should show Meridian and Nampa also have more than 100,000 people. But until the census data is finalized, those cities will continue to hold citywide elections for their council members.

Boise’s districts will be redrawn once 2020 census data is available.

“We are confident that we have proposed carefully considered balanced districts, but we are greatly disappointed that, due to the severely shortened timeframe, we were not able to engage residents in the process,” Clegg said in the release. “We look forward to a robust public process with new census numbers going into the 2023 election cycle.”

Credit: City of Boise
A map showing proposed districts for Boise's City Council election in November. The Boise City Council will vote Tuesday on an ordinance establishing the districts.

According to the ordinance, city council seats for districts 1, 3 and 5 will be up for election this year. Only residents of those three districts will be able to vote and run for office in this year’s city council election.

District 1 will represent West Boise, including the Centennial and the West Valley neighborhood west of Five Mile Road. Councilman TJ Thomson holds the seat for District 1, but he is not seeking re-election.

District 3 will represent a number of neighborhoods north of State Street, including much of the North End, the Highlands, Veterans Park, Pierce Park and Northwest Boise. Councilwoman Lisa Sànchez represents District 3. She will seek reelection.

District 5 covers much of the center of the city. It includes downtown, the West and East ends, Depot Bench, Central Bench, Morris Hill and the Central Rim. It also includes a small part of the North End. District 5 is represented by Councilwoman Holli Woodings, who has not yet announced whether she will seek reelection.

The seats up for election this year will be just two-year terms, rather than the usual four-year terms. In 2023, all six districts will be open for election to four-year terms.

City council members will vote on the districting proposal during their regular meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at Boise City Hall, 150 N. Capitol Blvd.

How to run for Boise City Council

According to the Idaho Secretary of State's Office, to become a candidate for political office, one must do the following:

  • Announce their candidacy publicly
  • Filed for public office
  • Receive a contribution for the purpose of promoting their candidacy
  • Make an expenditure, contracted for services, or reserved space with the intent of promoting their candidacy for office

Candidates for Boise City Council must also be registered to vote in the city of Boise. In the 2021 election, they must also live in one of the three proposed districts that have open seats this year. 

Candidate filing opens at 8 a.m. on Aug. 23, and the deadline to file is 5 p.m. on Sept. 3.

The form to file for candidacy in Ada County is available at adacounty.id.gov/elections/information-for-candidates.

Ryan Suppe is the Boise City Hall and Treasure Valley business reporter for the Idaho Press. Contact him at 208-344-2055 (ext. 3038). Follow him on Twitter @salsuppe.

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