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Boise election results: City's water renewal bond approved, new council member elected in District 1

This is the first year Boise City Council members are being elected by district rather than at-large.

BOISE, Idaho — The 2021 election represents a major shift in Boise city politics, at least with regard to how city council elections are conducted, forced by a law the Idaho Legislature adopted in 2020.

Voters in Boise City Council District 1 elected candidate Luci Willits to fill the seat currently held by TJ Thomson, who decided to not run for another term in 2021.

A district map is posted here.

District 1 includes, generally speaking, the westernmost part of Boise north of Interstate 84 and south of Chinden Boulevard.

The races for districts 3 and 5 each had four candidates, including incumbent Lisa E. Sánchez in District 3 and incumbent Holli Woodings in District 5. Sánchez and Woodings both built significant leads as returns began coming in, and both ultimately retained their seats.

District 3 includes most of the North End, foothills and Northwest Boise. District 5 includes several Central Bench neighborhoods as well as the downtown area and the East End.

The law requires Idaho cities with populations of 100,000 or more to elect council members by district. This year, that threshold is based on the 2010 census, when the populations of Meridian and Nampa, Idaho's second- and third-largest cities, came in below 100,000.

Until this year, all Boise City Council members were elected in citywide votes, and were not required to live in specific areas of the city.

Because the four-year terms for the three city council members elected in 2019 cannot be shortened in the middle of those terms, there were no council elections for districts 2, 4 and 6.

All six council seats will be up for election, by district, in 2023. 

The City of Boise's sewer district bond also passed handily, with more than 80% of voters backing the measure.

Boise plans to update its water renewal system and start a new recycled water program. The city council approved the projects in late 2020.  

The bond on Tuesday's ballot asked voters to approve up to bond funding - long-term debt - up to $570 million over 20 years, to be paid for by sewer-rate increases over that period, starting with a rate increase of 9.9% in 2022. If the bond had failed, the city would have pid cash for the projects, also funded by sewer-rate increases, but the upfront rate increases would be much sharper -- as high as 53% in 2022, according to information on the city's website and in the ballot question.

See all of the election results for races across southern Idaho here. 

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