My Take On the Library, Stadium, and Ballot Initiatives

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As I’ve shared with residents throughout Boise, I truly believe in the transformative power of a strong downtown library. Libraries are often called the last of the great, free, public spaces: they are a haven for all comers, an incubator for ideas, a vehicle for self-improvement, and a last line of defense against educational and economic inequality. Public libraries are an essential part of our identity as Americans and Boiseans, and I look forward to personally making that case to Boise voters all summer and fall.

I also believe that we must respect the initiative process and the will of the voters. We need to listen to our community. The fact that citizens – who care deeply about Boise, just like we all do – were successful in getting the library and stadium on the ballot tells me that elected officials need to listen more and listen better.

Many signers of the petition do support the library, but take exception with the public process so far. I hear that.

And many signers are unconvinced of the value a public investment in a private stadium might create. I hear that, too. I am among them.

So, on the theme of public process, I want to address the issue of the stadium. Many have asked for my vote or opinion on this project and I want to make clear that it has yet to come before city council. In fact, much of the stadium project has been opaque not only to the public, but to me. Which forces me to ask: if the Boise City Council President doesn't have a clear idea of the scope, funding, and public good provided by this project, what hope does the average citizen have to feel included and informed in the process?

As someone who has led and volunteered on ballot measure campaigns to protect open spaces, increase school funding, and expand Medicaid, I value deeply the constitutional right we have, as citizens, to direct democracy through the ballot. Just as we asked the legislature this year to pass Medicaid expansion exactly as voters passed it, local leaders must respect the process and the will of the voters.

I hope that the voters of Boise will agree that a downtown library is important to our future. But if they don’t, I’ll respect their decision. And I’ll respect the democratic process our city will now go through, having a transparent and fair conversation about the vision for our future and the values we hold.

As I stated in my announcement to run, it is imperative that the next mayor of Boise be willing to engage more people, in more places, in more conversations. As we search for bolder, more creative solutions to our urgent challenges, we've got to include a multitude of residents' voices, from start to finish.

Zach Reider