MERIDIAN, Idaho — This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press.
On Tuesday, Meridian’s City Council plans to hear a declaration that will proclaim Meridian Councilmember John Overton as elected — since he’s running unopposed in November’s election.
A memo from City Clerk Chris Johnson said Idaho code directs the clerk to cancel any election with only one candidate and declare the sole candidate the winner. No one but Overton filed a declaration of candidacy, the memo said, and no one filed a declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate.
“Therefore, no election will be held for City Council District 4, Seat 4,” the memo said. “Pursuant to Idaho Code section 50-405(2)(b), Council Member Overton, the sole candidate, was elected upon issuance of this declaration.”
The declaration itself said that Overton’s election will be effective on Jan. 2, 2024, after taking his oath of office. Idaho Code says no write-in vote will be counted without a declaration of intent form.
The Ada County Clerk’s Office did not return a request for comment. Overton did not return a request for comment.
The secretary of state’s office said “this is fairly common, especially for smaller district elections where there are not a lot of candidates.” A spokesperson also said that the way the law reads, a city must cancel an election for an unopposed race.
The City of Boise said it has no plans to cancel the races for city council Districts 1 and 6, where Luci Willits and Jimmy Hallyburton are unopposed.
Boise State University Political Scientist Stephanie Witt said it’s possible that more races could be uncontested in by-district elections, because the pool for each seat is smaller than drawing from the whole city.
“We certainly see a lot of uncontested legislative seats in parts of the state,” Witt said.
Meridian Mayor Robert Simison selected Overton last year to replace Treg Bernt on city council; Bernt resigned after being elected to the Idaho Legislature. Overton previously worked for the Meridian Police Department from 1989 to 2017.
“This is quite an honor to be able to continue to serve the city in this capacity,” Overton said in January when he was sworn in. “I can’t tell you how passionate I am about this city, about seeing it progress into the future, how we control and manage the growth and make sure it doesn’t overwhelm us.”
Overton, reached by phone Monday afternoon, said it was kind of a shock when he found out about the law. He said he had been gearing up for his first campaign and feels a bit shortchanged, but he’ll get to try it again for his next election.
“I can immediately start putting my mind into just being a city councilman,” Overton said. “I always wanted to have that first election.”
This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press, read more on IdahoPress.com.
Watch more Local News:
See the latest news from around the Treasure Valley and the Gem State in our YouTube playlist:
HERE ARE MORE WAYS TO GET NEWS FROM KTVB:
Download the KTVB News Mobile App
Apple iOS: Click here to download
Google Play: Click here to download
Watch news reports for FREE on YouTube: KTVB YouTube channel
Stream Live for FREE on ROKU: Add the channel from the ROKU store or by searching 'KTVB'.
Stream Live for FREE on FIRE TV: Search ‘KTVB’ and click ‘Get’ to download.