MERIDIAN, Idaho — Meridian's longtime chief of staff to outgoing Mayor Tammy de Weerd officially launched his candidacy to succeed her as leader of the Treasure Valley city that has seen explosive growth in recent years.

Robert Simison kicked off his mayoral campaign Wednesday evening during an event downtown at Generations Plaza.

"I selected downtown for the kickoff because it truly is the heart of the community. People are excited about what has been occurring and what is on the horizon, which makes it the perfect place for the launch," Simison said in a news release before the event.  "As we kick off summer, I look forward to spending more time listening to Meridian residents and sharing my vision and goals for the community."

Simison has served as chief of staff for the past 11 years to de Weerd, who shocked the audience at the end of her State of the City address in February when she said she will retire at the end of her term

Simison's campaign said the efforts of the chief of staff - who also is a member of the city's Senior Leadership Team - have led to the rebuilding of the Meridian Road Interchange, creating Meridian's first strategic plan and a vote by residents to expand the City Council from four seats to six.

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He has also been active in the Meridian Chamber of Commerce and has volunteered as a youth soccer and baseball coach. Simison lives in South Meridian with his wife, Jenny, and their three children. 

Meridian City Councilwoman Anne Little Roberts and State Rep. Joe Palmer have also announced they will be running for mayor. The municipal election will take place on Nov. 5, 2019. The mayor serves a four-year term.

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