Meridian City Council Candidates Raise Big Campaign Dollars

Candidates for Meridian city council are raising large donations ahead of the November municipal election in Idaho.

The Ffive candidates vying for three board seats have raised more than $ 100,000 through Friday, according to the first campaign finance reports from candidates this election season. That’s about $ 44,000 less than the money raised for Boise City Council campaigns, where 11 candidates are running.

The three Meridian holders have surpassed their challengers by the thousands.

In the race for seat 6, incumbent Luke Cavener raised $ 37,530, or $ 35,094 more than his challenger Mike Hon. Cavener’s other challenger, Scott Garbarino, has not filed a campaign finance report, according to the Idaho Secretary of State’s website.

In the race for seat 4, incumbent Treg Bernt raised $ 29,930, or $ 24,430 more than his challenger, Adam Nelson, who raised $ 5,500.

In the race for seat 2, incumbent Joe Borton raised $ 24,607. His challenger, Hunter Wolf, has not filed a campaign fiancé report.

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Residents of Meridian will choose from seven candidates for three city council seats on November 2. The three incumbents are at the top of the campaign donations. Left to right: Councilor Joe Borton, Treg Bernt and Luke Cavener.

The 2019 candidates for Seats 1, 3, 5 of the Meridian City Council did not raise anything close to the amounts Borton, Cavener and Bernt raised this year.

The Meridian Press reported in 2019 that Elizabeth “Liz” Strader, the successful candidate for seat 1, received $ 3,700. City Councilor Brad Hoaglun raised $ 7,057 in his race to win seat 2. Jessica Perreault raised $ 6,173 in her race for seat 5.

Borton, Cavener and Bernt each received $ 1,000 in donations from CBH Homes, Conger Group, Brighton Corp. and Engineering Solutions LLC, all developers or representatives of developers. CBH, a Meridian home builder, is Idaho’s largest. Conger Group is a home builder in Boise and Brighton Corp. is a Meridian developer of residential and commercial properties. Engineering Solutions is an engineering and architectural contractor serving Toll Bros., another large residential developer in the valley.

These developers and representatives are common faces at city council and planning and zoning commission meetings when they seek approvals for new developments.

Cavener received $ 1,000 from Zach Evans Construction, Nampa Paving and Asphalt Co., and Murgoitio Ranch LLC. Bernt received $ 1,000 in donations from Tommy Ahlquist, President and CEO of Ball Ventures Alquist, a development company; and Alturas Capital, a commercial real estate development company.

Nelson did not receive any donations from companies, only individuals. He received $ 1,000 from himself, $ 1,000 from Kim Nelson, $ 1,000 each from Rhonda and Rod Marcum and $ 1,000 from Al Russell Jr.

Hon donated $ 2,436 to himself. His campaign fiancé report does not mention any other name.

Cavener said a number of factors went into his decision to raise more money this year. He said that during his run for city council in 2017, his opponent raised a substantial amount of money and gave himself a lot. Cavener won this race but said it was “a revelation”.

“You have to be serious about fundraising,” Cavener said over the phone. “On top of everything I love to do … connect with voters, to be a viable candidate you have to focus on fundraising.”

Cavener said he usually spends a lot of his own money on his campaign, but this year his wife, Adrean, who usually runs his campaigns, is back in school and his sons are in high school and kindergarten, so for the first time Cavener hired people to run his campaign. Much of that aid has gone into fundraising, he said.

He also said that a year ago there was talk of Meridian going into district-wide city council races instead of the general races that residents are used to. Cavener said he believed running a campaign would be much more difficult with the district elections, so he believed campaign staff would help.

A state law enacted last year requires cities with at least 100,000 inhabitants to elect city council members by district, not in general. Meridian has crossed the 100,000 threshold, but results from the 2020 U.S. census confirming that they were not released in time for this election to be changed to districts, so the city is proceeding with a final general council election.

At the end of his campaign, Cavener said, he donates 10% of his funds to the Meridian Food Bank.

“This donation is going to be much bigger this year,” he said.

Reached by email, Bernt said: “I am very grateful for the broad support from people who believe in me and my vision of Meridian …”

Borton did not respond to requests for comment.

Early voting begins Monday October 18 and continues until Friday October 29. Election day is November 2.

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