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Viewpoint: Caldwell mayor of 24 years discusses upcoming runoff election for his successor

Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas discusses the runoff election for his successor and the challenges and accomplishments during his time in office.

CALDWELL, Idaho — After 24 years in office, Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas decided not to run for re-election in 2021. On this edition of Viewpoint, Mayor Nancolas discussed his time in office, his decision to retire from government, the challenges the city has faced and still faces, and the accomplishments he's most proud of.

At the top of his list is the revitalization of downtown Caldwell and the development of Indian Creek Plaza as a community gathering place and a place for new businesses. He also pointed to the recruitment of businesses to the city's industrial park, and his work with the youth of Caldwell.

Mayor Nancolas also discussed the twists and turns of the election to choose his successor. He said holding a runoff election was the only option the city of Caldwell had, even after one of the two candidates tried to withdraw from the race.

None of the five candidates in the race for Caldwell mayor received the required majority of 50% plus one vote to capture the win on Nov. 2, so a runoff was scheduled to take place on November 30 between the two candidates who received the most votes: current city council members Jarom Wagoner and John McGee. 

Wagoner received 47% of the vote, while McGee received 22%. However, on Monday Nov. 8 McGee filed a Statement of Withdrawal with the city clerk.

In a Facebook post McGee wrote, "The people of Caldwell have spoken, and I believe that they would like Mr. Wagoner to be their next mayor. It is in the best interest of the city of Caldwell to avoid a long, costly run-off".

The Caldwell city clerk announced on Nov. 10 that the runoff cannot be canceled because McGee did not withdraw in time. According to Idaho code, a candidate must file a withdrawal with the city clerk at least 46 days before the election. There wasn't enough time between the regular and runoff elections for McGee to meet that requirement.

After the announcement, McGee posted on Facebook that he will not campaign for mayor anymore and that he will instead help Wagoner get his mayoral term off to a successful start.

Below is an excerpt from Viewpoint in which Mayor Nancolas discusses how all of this is playing out:

Doug Petcash: So, as the city did its due diligence, did it become clear that going forward with the runoff was the only choice you had?

Mayor Garret Nancolas: Yes. Obviously, the clerk and the city attorney both looked at it literally from every option and opportunity, and as you know, Mr. McGee also sought relief through the court system, and the judge also saw it the same way. So it's one of these things where we have to follow the law, we have to follow the statutes and the ordinances, and so it is a situation where there's only one way forward and that's with a runoff election.

Doug Petcash: And so what do you think about how all of this is playing out?

Mayor Nancolas: It didn't surprise me that there would be a runoff, that's common when you have five candidates running for the same office, even with the council seats. We had, I believe, four people in at least each seat, and the winner in those cases was 32, 33% of the vote. So it's not unusual when you have that many candidates to not get the 50%. So the way it played out was not a surprise to me the fact that we didn't get 50% in the initial vote, but since then it's been interesting.

Doug Petcash: So what do you think of Councilman McGee's desire to withdraw? As I mentioned, he had 22% to Councilman Wagoner's 47%.

Mayor Nancolas: I think John had the best interest of the city at heart. I think he was really trying to do the right thing, and not go through a divisive additional three or four weeks of campaigning. I certainly respect that, and I think he was genuinely trying to do the right thing.

Viewpoint airs Sunday mornings at 9:00 on KTVB right after Meet the Press.

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