Nampa Mayor Debbie Kling seeks reelection, political outsider hopes to unseat her

·3 min read

Nampa Mayor Debbie Kling wants to serve the city for another four years, but she faces a challenger in Nampa’s mayoral election.

Jerrold Smith, 64, a disabled former electronic security and Life Safety consultant, seeks to unseat the incumbent mayor, though his candidacy is a long shot.

Kling, 64, was elected in 2017 after defeating incumbent Mayor Bob Henry. Before taking office, Kling was the president/CEO of the Nampa Chamber of Commerce, where she served from 2012 until 2017.

Transportation and congestion are major concerns for Nampa residents, but Kling said the challenge is funding transportation projects to help alleviate road congestion. City staffers have been working on ideas to fund transportation at the local level, Kling said.

Nampa has raised its impact fees to help fund roads. Kling wants to be sure the city has enough roads, vehicle lanes, sidewalks, stoplights and other traffic infrastructure to keep vehicles moving as the city grows.

Smith and Kling agree that the city should try to expand public transportation. Kling sits on the executive committee of Valley Regional Transit and said the committee is looking for ways to make public transportation more accessible in Nampa.

“Public transportation is a necessity to help reduce traffic,” Smith said in an email.

Nampa residents are also frustrated with their rising property taxes, but Kling said a lot of the rise is unrelated to the city’s levy rate or budget.

“The taxes that have gone up are related to assessed values of homes going up, not because of city taxes going up,” Kling said by phone.

Comprehensive tax reform to bring property taxes down, has to happen on the state level, Kling said. Kling was among the vocal opposition to a law from the 2021 legislative session that caps the revenue cities can take from new construction and annexation. In May, Kling said the law inhibits Nampa’s ability to have growth pay for itself.

Smith did not respond to an emailed interview request and did not respond to questions in the Idaho Statesman Voter Guide about growth, except to say that tackling growth in Nampa would be “a challenge, challenges are things I enjoy.”

Smith appears not to be raising money, either. Kling raised $4,875, according to her campaign-finance report earlier this month, the only pre-election report required of city candidates. The Boise Firefighters PAC and the Nampa Firefighters PAC each donated $1,000. Smith did not file a campaign finance report.

Smith told the Statesman in the Voter Guide that his top priorities for the city are crime, transportation and growth.

Kling’s experience in management positions has prepared her to continue to manage the city as its CEO, she said.

“Whether it be me or someone else, it is crucial they have experience in organizational leadership and that we have someone as mayor who is passionate about our community,” Kling said.

Election Day is is next Tuesday, Nov. 2.

Also on the ballot for Nampa voters are three City Council seats, an opening for fire district commissioner, three Nampa School Board seats and two Vallivue School Board seats.

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