NAMPA, Idaho — Editor's Note: This article was originally published by the Idaho Press.
Debbie Kling feels like there’s more work to be done. That’s why she’s running for reelection as Nampa’s mayor.
After defeating incumbent Bob Henry in 2017, Kling will enter the November election in the position. She announced her reelection campaign Thursday and she wants to keep steering Nampa in the direction it’s going.
“Today, we have that synergy, we have that collaboration,” Kling said. “I want to continue that momentum. The mayor cannot do the work alone. It takes the work of many. And I want to continue in my role to help encourage that community collaboration.”
Before becoming mayor, Kling was the Nampa Chamber of Commerce president from 2012 to 2017. She has emphasized listening to residents to help guide her decisions. Kling believes a balanced approach is best to confront Nampa’s population growth, which she said is among the top challenges facing the city.
As of Friday afternoon, no other candidates had filed to run against Kling.
Kling wants Nampa to be a “full-service city,” meaning people can both live and work in Nampa and the city can meet the needs of residents so they don’t need to go elsewhere to get something.
She also wants to revisit the question of, “Who do we want to be as a community?” That relates to the collaborative approach Kling plans to take if reelected.
“One of the greatest roles as a mayor,” Kling said, “is to help encourage and mobilize the community to be engaged and take ownership of their community as we move forward setting the stage for the future direction of where we go.”
Kling highlighted revitalizing downtown during her time as mayor. While she said there’s more work to do, she thinks improving Nampa’s downtown thus far has been successful. She also pointed to raising impact fees to allow new development to cover more of the costs of supporting those developments — what Kling calls having “growth pay for growth.” Nampa has also been working on its 2040 Comprehensive Plan and making tweaks to allow for higher density in certain places.
Kling pointed out how if the city were to stop growth, there would be a negative economic effect for businesses, like ones that employ building contractors and realtors. That’s why she wants to bring a balanced mentality while weighing both the challenges and benefits of the city’s growth.
In 2010, Nampa’s population was less than 82,000, according to the U.S. Census. This year, it’s estimated to be nearly 111,000, according to the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho. It’s the third Idaho city with more than 100,000 people and routinely among the country’s fastest growing in recent years.
Also among Kling’s priorities are creating a “recession-proof” economy so an economic downturn wouldn’t throw things off too much and preparing for emergency situations like a widespread power outage. She said both scenarios are things that “keep me awake at night.”
Having led nonprofits and private companies, Kling believes she’s suited to continue overseeing the city’s government. Having that background, she said, is valuable.
“It’s important that the leader of the city has good management experience and organizational leadership experience,” Kling said, “because it’s very important to how the city runs.”
Kling is a Republican; the mayoral race is nonpartisan. She was outspoken this spring during the legislative session when discussing property taxes. She supported property tax relief, but spoke out against bills that would hamstring city budgets.
“What makes me a good candidate is I really don’t like politics,” Kling said. “I’m here to serve but I don’t consider myself a politician and I don’t make decisions for political reasons.”
Ultimately, Kling said, public safety, health and economic opportunity are the pillars of what guides her decisions leading the city.
The general election is Nov. 2.
Paul Schwedelson covers growth, Nampa and Caldwell. Follow him on Twitter @pschweds.
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