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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...Please note: Candidates' responses have not been edited except for libel.

Commissioner District 5

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

Click a candidate icon to find more information about the candidate. To compare two candidates, click the "compare" button. To start over, click a candidate icon.

  • Candidate picture

    Sara Baker

  • Candidate picture

    Rick Just

  • Candidate picture

    Mike Tracy

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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 66
Education BA Political Science Va Tech Master's Coursework Urban Affairs, Va Tech
Prior political experience 16 years Boise City Councilmember; 8 years CCDC Board Member including Chairman; 8 years ACHD Commissioner
Civic involvement COMPASS Board Chair; Member Boise Housing Board; St Mark's CCW Funeral Luncheon Chair
Years living in Idaho 39
Family Husband of 39 years, two children, one grandchild
Other social media http://instagram@saraforachd
When I first ran for ACHD, I wanted to move traffic, increase ACHD's transparency, fix intersections to allow for better movement and give the public real input on decisions that affected them. It’s no different now. In fact, as the Ada County population increases, we definitely have more need to keep traffic moving and reduce congestion through new ideas and techniques, such as the blinking yellow left turn signal idea that I brought to ACHD.

It is imperative that we ensure the safety of all users of the transportation system whether it be drivers, pedestrians or bicyclists by providing the appropriate infrastructure.

My record is one of listening to the public, finding solutions to congestion and spending tax dollars wisely. $9 million was left in tax payer's pockets during my tenure and I successfully pushed for ACHD to sell $4.6 million (to date) in surplus property. I am committed to openness and transparency in everything ACHD does, from advocating for reports on where the taxes come from in the county to where they are spent, and to competitive bidding on all contracts ACHD lets to ensure a level playing field and honest competition.
Eagle Rd and Fairview Ave is the joining of a state highway with a county principal arterial. 33,000 cars use Fairview every day and over 54,000 cars use Eagle Rd every day. I don’t believe any amount of expansion will solve traffic congestion in this area. An intersection like Eagle/Fairview requires constant monitoring by the Traffic Management Center to relieve any pinching. I am committed to ACHD using the latest effective technology in intelligent transportation systems which may provide some efficiency benefits.

Downtown Boise congestion can be managed by keeping Capitol, 9th, Main and Idaho open for one way traffic. But realistically, Boise has indicated through their various plans like the Transportation Action Plan, that they welcome congestion.

Actually, the cities control the land use and approve developments. ACHD fits the transportation system to the land use and works very closely with the cities. I voted to implement the Five Year Integrated Work Plan in which the cities highlight their funding priorities for expansion. In the Southwest where the Syringa development is proposed, I advocated for and the Commission approved requiring a connection to Orchard St/Gowen Rd. More connections allow for more connectivity and mobility. I also advocated for accelerating the widening of Cole Rd and for the connection of Lake Hazel across Cole and the canal to allow access to Orchard/Gowen from the south.

There is a lot of development occurring along Chinden Blvd which is very congested and desperately needs to be widened. It’s currently the equivalent of putting 10 pounds of flour in a five pound sack. As Chinden is a state highway, there is little ACHD can do to widen the road, but we have continually advocated for State funding in this area. I sit on a Meridian committee doing just that. ACHD is cooperating with ITD on the section between Eagle Rd and Locust Grove.This is a good start but more needs to be done.
I am proud not to have maximized the take of property taxes from people's pockets. For many of those years the recession was hurting taxpayers and it would have been ridiculous for ACHD to grab that money. Since then ACHD has been using tax dollars efficiently. The influx of $6 million from the State gas tax increase has gone to maintenance and has allowed ACHD to do more without raising the property tax.

Oftentimes government forgets that tax dollars are the people's money and not governments.
129,000 pound trucks are not appropriate for ACHD roads regardless if they are arterials, collectors or local roads. If the State approves these limits, they should be confined to State highways or the Interstates. In fact, it would be preferable to keep these trucks out of highly populated counties. Eagle Rd, Chinden Blvd, the Connector and Broadway Ave are state highways which are heavily traveled. The conflicts could be devastating.
I was proud to have voted for the Downtown Boise Implementation Plan which is designed to convert many of the streets to two way. In fact, much of that work has already been done but we do need to go back and assess whether it is working as envisioned or does it need some revisions to provide turn lanes to relieve congestion.

Capitol, Ninth, Main and Idaho should remain as one way. These are arterials and are necessary for movement of traffic. Let us not forget that 95% of all trips are taken by car so they must be accommodated as gridlock is not helpful to anyone.

Recently, I advocated that we examine 5th and 6th Sts for two way traffic and to accelerate that action. Currently, there is a great deal of congestion at 6th and Front. Providing another access at 5th and Front could help alleviate that.
Age 70
Education BA in English/Communication, BSU Masters of Public Administration, BSU
Prior political experience Boise City Planning and Zoning Commissioner
Civic involvement Board member of Friends of Idaho State Parks and Idaho Geographic Names Advisory Board. Past board member of Learning Lab of Boise, Presto Preservation Association, and the ANSER Charter School.
Years living in Idaho 62
Family Married 40 years to Rinda Just
Twitter page @VoteRickJust
I want to see a better working relationship between the ACHD commission and its customers, especially relationships between the commission and the cities in Ada County. I am also a big advocate of transportation choice, which would include more walkable communities, better biking facilities, and sometime in the near future, improved transit.

The most important issue facing the county will be how to respond to the dramatic changes ahead in transportation. We are on the cusp of changes on a scale not experienced since the invention of the automobile. These include autonomous vehicles, electric cars, electric bikes, new forms of rapid transit, solar roads (an Idaho invention), smart phone apps, and algorithms that may revolutionize the efficiency and mode of travel.

I’ve served on local, state, and national boards and commissions. I created Idaho’s gateway interstate highway information center program, helped develop rest area standards for ITD, and now serve on the Idaho Byways Advisory committee, and the Transportation Advisory Program grant review committee for the state.
Improving parallel corridors would help with the Eagle-Fairview intersection, as would more use of Commuter Ride. I would also like to explore various modes of rapid transit in the valley. Additional lanes would not alleviate the Eagle-Fairview situation. Eagle Road itself should be proof enough of that.

Downtown Boise traffic would also be less congested with improved transit and increased use of Commuter Ride. Downtown is well suited to take advantage of a growing desire to commute to work by bicycle. We need to encourage that by providing safe bike lanes and designated shared roads.

Perhaps the better question is, why are we all trying to get to work at the same time? A program to encourage staggered work times would improve rush hour traffic more than any facility improvement we could develop.

Also, about 25 percent of morning traffic is getting kids to school. Some of that can be alleviated by focusing on Safe Routes to Schools programs, which encourage riding bikes and walking to nearby schools.
Nothing will stop the valley from growing. It’s a wonderful place to live. ACHD’s challenge is to keep that growth from degrading the quality of life for everyone, as much as possible.

We cannot meet all the demands of growth by building new highways and widening existing roads. That’s called Los Angeles. The additional exhaust pipes associated with growth could make the natural inversions we experience a significant detriment to our quality of life.

In the short term, of course we will have to provide connectivity to new developments. But we need to be thinking long term, too. I believe new transportation technologies will be coming along faster than we can imagine.

In the meantime, to minimize the impacts of growth, we have only a few tools to decrease congestion and pollution. We can expand Commuter Ride, encourage bicycle commuting and ride sharing, and develop new transit solutions. We need to look at potential solutions that have been tried by Salt Lake, Portland, Spokane, and other communities. We can learn from their failures as well as their successes.
As long as existing revenues can continue to cover a well-designed maintenance program, staying away from an increase is okay. We’re in a time of low inflation, but eventually costs will rise to the point where it will probably be necessary to take the increase allowed. Putting off maintenance to avoid a modest increase would be a false economy.

But maintenance isn’t everything. Both presidential candidates have proposed programs to improve infrastructure. That may mean that federal money will be available for needed bridge replacement, or even making some progress on a transit system. Those programs usually require some kind of local match. It might then make sense to take that increase to leverage those federal funds.
I don’t think there’s a blanket answer for this. Overweight trucks lead to road wear and are a potential hazard for drivers and for communities where spills might occur. I’d want to see the routes being proposed so that I could weigh the risks and rewards. If a short trip on an ACHD road could cut the time and distance for truckers and still provide a good level of safety for motorists, that might be justified.
I haven’t heard enough community discussion on this to give a number, and I don’t think we’ve had time to evaluate the impacts at this point. Further, I think the city—every city in Ada County—should have the opportunity to decide their own destiny. Holding to that philosophy, I would defer to the city on this kind of decision. The mayor and city council are the most answerable to voters of the cities they serve and should be accountable for their decisions. Because of the unique way ACHD is set up, three commissioners who live in Boise, for instance, could dictate to Star, Kuna, Garden City, Eagle, and Meridian how to operate their streets. Their citizens might not have a chance to vote for any of those commissioners. Commissioners try to be fair, of course, but we need to make sure those who serve on the commission listen to the unique needs of each city.
Age 64
Education 1977 - University of Idaho B.S. Mass Communications 1990 - Idaho State University M.A. Speech Communications
Prior political experience 1996-2006 Communications Director for US Senator Larry Craig Consultant for numerous political campaigns, including Butch Otter, Brad Little, Supreme Court races, Idaho State Building Code Board from 2006-present
Civic involvement Elder Abuse Campaign, Ada County Boys & Girls Club, Junior Achievement, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Years living in Idaho 46
Family wife, Debra, five children and eight grandchildren
I am running to give back what the community has given to me. I have been very fortunate with family, friends, employment and public service in Ada County and beyond. In my opinion after going to several of the ACHD board meetings, pre-work sessions, and post-work sessions I believe the most important issue will be getting all the commissioners working together and also getting ACHD working more cooperatively with the other local, state and federal agencies. My background includes ten years on the Idaho Building Code Board, ten years as the Communication Director for U.S. Senator Larry Craig which involved substantial transportation policy on federal and state funding, and nearly ten years with the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation as Information Director which involved a number of road, bridge and irrigation district issues all of which touch ACHD on a daily basis. As a small business owner I have clients which have interacted with ACHD including Boise Project Boad of Control and its five irrigation districts.
In places that have already had substantial congestion buildup alternate routes can be developed. Since both areas mentioned are still under development it is not clear what the final solution will be. Since I live in Meridian, I know that other routes are used by Meridian residents. This will reduce some of the congestion. As for Downtown Boise, the construction level is so high at this point those alternative methods of transportation, such as walking or biking, are going to be preferred methods for many.
The first item of business is to listen to the local neighborhood groups and HOAs to find out what their needs and wants are for those locations. Then, based on safety, commerce, and common sense ACHD Board members should move forward with decisions for those developments based on what the cities and local groups have determined are in the best interest for both short and long term. The recent Braemere decision is an example of where local residents were partially heard and then the balance of the local HOAs weighed in after the decision was implemented.
I have spent my entire career working alongside elected leaders with who I share the values of lean, but effective government while fight to keep taxes down. Transportation is a major part of Ada County's economic infrastructure that needs better maintenance and management. I promise to make ACHD do a better job spending our tax dollars and developers impact fees wisely.

The major concern is potential damage from the overweight trucks.If ACHD allows these trucks to move on ACHD roads who will foot the bill? If roads controlled by ITD or ACHD are damaged or need additional maintenance due to overweight trucks, the taxpayer will end up with an increase in costs either way.
It is too soon to tell which streets should be one-way or two-way due to the extensive construction that is going on in Downtown Boise. Based on ACHD meetings I have already attended since August there will be no easy answer. Again, the local community, Boise, along with the Downtown Boise business community should have substantial input on these determinations.
Yes. In September 2013 I plead guilty to a misdemeanor DUI and had a withheld judgment in December 2014.