November 2016 Treasure Valley Voters Guide

Welcome to our Voter Guide for November's local races, bonds and levies, as well as the presidential election. Compare candidates' views on the issues side by side and create your own ballot, which you can then print or email.

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Commissioner District 1

The commission sets policy for the Ada County Highway District, the only countywide highway agency in Idaho, which handles all roads in Ada County, including those within its cities. Commission seats are nonpartisan. More on ACHD's election page here.Term: 4 yearsPay: $1,860/month, or $2,235 for whomever the commission votes its president

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    Jim Hansen

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Biographical Information

Why are you running for office? What is the most important issue facing the county? What in your background qualifies you for the job of commissioner?

What can ACHD do to relieve traffic congestion in places like Meridian’s Eagle-Fairview intersection or Downtown Boise?

What can ACHD do to handle looming traffic problems in places where big housing developments are being proposed, such as Southwest Boise, Meridian, and the Foothills?

For eight consecutive years, ACHD has not taken the 3 percent property tax rate increase allowed under state law. Do you think ACHD should collect the full amount allowed under state law? Why or why not?

The Idaho Transportation Department is considering allowing overweight trucks on some state-owned highways. Do you support allowing them on ACHD-controlled roads? Why or why not?

How many of Downtown Boise’s one-way streets should be converted to two-way streets? All of them? Should any of the streets that have become two-ways be turned back into one-ways?

Have you been convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, a misdemeanor or felony or had a withheld judgment? If so, what, when and where?

Have you or a company you owned filed bankruptcy? If so, when and where?

Age 60
Education JD, University of Idaho College of Law; BA, College of William & Mary
Prior political experience Idaho State Legislature (1988-1994)
Civic involvement Rotary International and many other civic and community organizations.
Years living in Idaho I was born in Idaho and have lived in Ada County for over 30 years.
Family Married with two adult children.
I have worked in this community for more than three decades as an attorney, the executive director of community organizations, a legislator and in many volunteer capacities. I have served one term as an ACHD commissioner and continue to learn from many people how transportation impacts the choices they make.

ACHD manages $ billions in public infrastructure, much of it built based on old models and past limited technology. Once infrastructure is built, the public must pay to maintain it in perpetuity. Therefore, ACHD must constantly work to include people early in the design process to benefit from their innovative ideas, must research and incorporate the latest demographic data, and must understand how new technology will affect the kind of infrastructure people will need in the future.

On the neighborhood level, too many streets were built too wide to be safe. ACHD gets many requests for traffic calming because wide streets invite speeding and endangers children. Wide streets are also expensive to maintain. One size does not fit all. We must have streets that are sensitive to local context where people can live and work in a safe and economically vibrant environment.
Auto traffic congestion – or more accurately the increase in travel time by car between any two points – is generated by 1) the growing number of people who have moved into the Treasure Valley, 2) the way cities and the county have permitted land to be developed and the way roads and streets are designed in and around that development, and 3) the willingness – or lack thereof – to give people and businesses choices in the way they travel within the valley. We cannot stop people from moving here so travel time will increase over time. However, if people have more choices in the route and mode of transportation, we can avoid creating unacceptable increases in travel time.

The long-range transportation plan for the Treasure Valley – “Communities in Motion 2040” – identified how much population growth we can expect over 25 years and many of its effects (travel time, demand for jobs, housing disparities, schools, etc). The best way to prevent excessive travel time in the future is to work together as local governments and with the private sector to invest now in a variety of transportation choices that the market is demanding and that our own long-range plan says we need.
Business leaders in the Treasure Valley have long anticipated that surest way to undermine healthy long-term economic growth is to deny people real and robust choices in transportation. Therefore, they asked the legislature in 1994 to give voters the ability to create a transit agency to provide choices in transportation (van pools, buses, bus-rapid transit, light rail, etc). In 1998, the voters of Ada and Canyon Counties overwhelmingly supported the creation of a transit agency: Valley Regional Transit (VRT).

The legislature and voters expected highway districts as well as cities and counties to provide local funding for VRT. ACHD – which receives all local transportation tax dollars in Ada County – has not adequately invested in VRT for 18 years. Thus, transit is unavailable to too many people in the county, particularly those areas experiencing the fastest growth.

ACHD must be a leader in investing in ALL forms of transportation to maximize the use of road infrastructure and give people the market choices they need to deal with the inevitable increase in travel times that comes with growth. It is what we say needs to be done in our long range transportation plan.
No, not until ACHD fully integrates all modes of transportation consistent with the shifting demands for mobility that our own long-range transportation plan forecasts. We need a better balance of public investment in all modes of transportation to maximize infrastructure we have already built (roads, bridges, intersections, storm water systems, etc).

Public investment in transportation must take advantage of market choices and leverage private investment. We must also have a more diverse tax base to support transportation infrastructure so there is not such a heavy reliance on the property tax.
People who live, work, go to school and recreate in areas proposed to be traversed by overweight trucks must have a say as to where the balance on the maximum truck weights is struck. Neither the state nor the federal government should mandate that neighborhoods must accept all truck weights.

One size does not fit all. Hundreds of cities around the world have thrived with a diversity of streets, some of which are difficult for huge vehicles to navigate. Goods can be shipped in many different ways and technology exists so it is economically feasible for businesses in urban centers to be served as effectively as large commercial developments adjacent to interstate freight corridors.

An unintentional consequence of building local streets and arterial roads particularly wide is that they may invite state and federal authorities to override local concerns over truck weights.
Streets are public assets. They must be safe and provide a long-term economic return to the public. In urban settings, trends across the nation show that businesses do better where car drivers are allowed to travel two-ways. It is also safer for everyone driving, walking and cycling on those streets. That is why Boise businesses sought to return more of the downtown street grid to a two-way system for cars. The streets that have returned to two-way have already demonstrated an increased appeal to economic investment and improved safety. The only one-way streets left in downtown Boise that may be returned to two-way in the near future are 5th and 6th Streets. It is probably not feasible to convert any others.