By Mark Barnes
The first candidate forum for the upcoming city council election on November 5 was held at the Grange Hall in Kuna last Thursday evening. Unlike the previous election cycle where there were numerous candidates for council and mayor, and a packed Grange Hall, this time there were just four candidates, 14 in the audience and one moderator, Don Johnson. Johnson, a member of the Kuna Grange said that in 1872 the Grange was the first to give women the right to vote for officers in the organization and that the Kuna Grange is 105 years old.
The four candidates will compete for two open seats and included current city councilman Richard Cardoza, Pat Jones, K.C. Maly and Warren Christensen.
The moderator first allowed each to make a statement as to why they are running. Each had the obligatory statement about giving back to the community and a desire to serve. Eight-and-a-half year Kuna resident K.C. Maly added that he’s “good at making decisions.” Warren Christensen said that he’s lived here 24 years, has run in previous city council elections, is raising a family and wants to be a part of the progress that Kuna is currently experiencing. Pat Jones stressed his experience as a sponsor of local events, a chairman of Kuna Days for 7 years and that he will bring “integrity, commitment and honesty to the council.” Richard Cardoza expressed that the small number of candidates this year is a sign that they are doing something right on city council and he wants to continue that trend.
When asked about attracting business to Kuna Jones stressed that for sustained growth, the city needs to make sure that there is something for the employees of the businesses to do in Kuna. Cardoza spoke about cooperation with other neighboring cities, something he said was lacking in previous years, is important to developing a strong community to attract businesses. Christensen said that diversity of businesses is the key and that we need to attract the kind of retail that we don’t already have to create a well-rounded shopping environment for residents. Maly spoke of expanding the quality of life issues and that we need to ask those businesses that chose not to expand to Kuna why. Perhaps we need to fix those issues he said.
While all were for a recreational facility for youth, the candidates differed a bit on the use. Maly and Christensen felt that a multi-generational facility would benefit the community more than one focused on a select age range such as a Boys & Girls club. Jones was for expanding the parks to give more options for youth including creating a sports complex that could help bring big tournaments (and business) to Kuna. Cardoza, who has been on council long enough to experience the last attempts at building a city pool in Kuna, spoke about the investment cost. He said that it cost $64,000 a year to keep someone in prison and that an investment of two to three thousand dollars per Kuna kid now would pay off much better down the road. He felt it was very important to proceed with a youth facility now that land has been donated to the city for that purpose.
On the old 4th Street Gym all agreed that it is an important icon of the city but that something needs to be done with it. Maly expressed that he’d be open to getting rid of it if it makes economic sense.
Audience member Sharon Fisher asked the candidates how they felt about a city ordinance protecting gay, lesbian and transgender residents from discrimination in the city like other Idaho cities such as Pocatello, Boise, Sandpoint, Idaho Falls, Coeur d’Alene, Moscor and Ketchum. All candidates agreed that they didn’t think it was necessary at this time but that they wouldn’t be against it if it came up. Cardoza said he didn’t think that such a law was necessary and added “I don’t see this town being that bigoted.”
Kuna Melba News will publish a candidate comparison on October 30, 2013, discussing many important issues to Kuna not covered here. There will be another candidate forum at the Kuna High School commons on Wednesday, October 23, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. sponsored by the Kuna Chamber