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  • Brad Pike for Eagle Mayor

Eagle City Council President Pike running for mayor

September 14, 2023


Over 35 years experience in public service
Brad Pike for Eagle Mayor

THE GROWTH VOTE 2023 BOISEDEV ELECTION COVERAGE The Eagle mayor’s race is heating up with a challenger from inside city hall. Brad Pike, Eagle City Council’s current president, decided to challenge incumbent Mayor Jason Pierce in November. He joins the field of challengers alongside Marc Degl’Innocenti and former mayor Stan Ridgeway, who lost his seat to Pierce in a hard-fought 2019 election and lost a bid as a Democrat for an Ada County Commission seat in 2022. Pike currently also serves as a commissioner for the Eagle Fire District. He formerly worked as a firefighter in California for more than twenty years, eventually reaching the rank of captain, and was elected mayor as a Republican in the small Bay Area suburb of Hollister California. If elected, Pike said he wants to reallocate money out of Eagle’s budget currently set for other projects and costs to grow the city’s ranks of police officers, focus city government efforts on bringing more businesses to Eagle and create a downtown association for businesses to collaborate and advocate for their needs. He also opposes recent lawsuits filed against community members and organizations in the city. Pike said he was motivated to join the race against the mayor he sits next to at every council meeting because he believes Eagle is “going in the wrong direction” and the recent annexation of Avimor added more land to Eagle than can be adequately served by city resources. He was the lone council member to vote against annexing Avimor into city limits earlier this year.

“If somebody wants a dictator and somebody want someone to micromanage the opportunity to come into our community, then I’m not their candidate,” he said. “If they want somebody who will listen to them and sit down and have conversations one on one and have a viable solution to the problems they face, then I am the candidate.” A ‘cornerstone’ of public safety Finding ways to add more police officers to Eagle’s streets is a major priority for Pike. He said the city has fallen “behind the eight ball” on funding more resources of the Eagle Police Department, staffed through a contract with the Ada County Sheriff’s Office as the city has grown in recent years. Pike said his goal is to get Eagle to a level where it has one officer per 1,000 citizens, a level he says Kuna and Star have worked toward successfully while Eagle lagged behind.

To reach this, Pike suggests dedicating all of the liquor tax revenue the City of Eagle gets each year to fund more deputies specifically. Another idea would be to allocate 10% of the city’s budget for capital improvements, like new parks and buildings, toward public safety. He said this would slow the construction of infrastructure, but if the city doesn’t have enough officers to patrol its recently expanded borders other things will suffer down the road. “If you’re not a safe community, then you start deteriorating as a community,” he said. Pike is concerned about both the decision to annex Avimor, a sprawling planned community in the foothills above the city, into Eagle and the growing demand of development on the valley floor. He said the city needs to build better partnerships with other government agencies like the West Ada School District to find out when the proposals for growth it is considering from developers will be too heavy of a burden for public services. He said instead of listening to what developers want for Eagle, he would listen to the residents and weigh the impact a project would have on city services. Pike noted he is the only elected official in Eagle right now who hasn’t taken political donations from Avimor’s developers. “We have hundreds of people who said no at the Avimor hearing and (Pierce and other city council members) blatantly ignored the people who elected them,” he said. “If they are electing us, they are expecting us to be their representative for their community. We are the closest entity to any citizen in anywhere.” Going beyond a ‘bedroom community’ Pike says Eagle needs to renew its focus on economic development to create a sustainable tax base, instead of relying on property taxes and fees from residential neighborhoods. He said Eagle should create a downtown business association, like the Downtown Boise Association, to help support downtown businesses, help them grow, and advocate for their needs in city government. Pike said this would help return to the mindset of support and teamwork fostered by the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on businesses. Pike was also sharply critical of Pierce’s efforts to attract major businesses to Eagle. He said the city’s Economic Development department “fell apart and went away” when the city’s economic development director and her assistant left the city over frustrations with Pierce telling businesses they hoped to attract could not come to the city. City spokesperson Dana Biberston confirmed the departure of two staff members last year, but said the city currently has an economic development specialist, not a director, on staff, and there was roughly a month between her hiring and the previous staffer in the position’s departure. He also accused Pierce of turning away businesses who wanted to set up shop in Eagle, but had few details on how that worked. As long as the zoning is appropriate, businesses in any locality can usually set up in a municipality after going through the Design Review Committee process and/or getting their building permits, which are legally required to be given out if their project meets code. If a business would like to set up and they are turned down for arbitrary reasons, a company can file a lawsuit against the municipality that turned it down. Below is a portion of the transcript of BoiseDev’s interview with Pike to provide more detail on his remarks. Pike: “I don’t care if he says ‘yea, nay or whatever,’ but that’s what’s happened. Where are we supposed to get our strong cornerstone long-term tax base for the community if we’re turning away businesses? I’m talking viable businesses. One business is going to Star. She doesn’t want to be in Star. She wanted to be in Eagle, but they told them no.” BoiseDev: Like, a development application? Or? Pike: Not a development, a business. A viable company. BoiseDev: How does a mayor stop a business from opening up? Pike: Well, because who does the phone call come to originally? BoiseDev: The economic development person. Pike: If we don’t have one, then the mayor will be the one who answers. He gets wind of it ahead of time. Somebody will call and say ‘hey Mr. Mayor or Mrs. Mayor, I am interested in bringing my business to your community.’ Why that went away, you’ll have to ask him. The person who wanted to bring this company in particular was told no. I don’t know who told them no, the staff, but the buck stops at the top. The communication for that has to be looked at. We’ve had other businesses come in, and they’ve been told no. I don’t know who has been telling them no, but my assumption is you go to the top. BoiseDev: So is the issue the city is saying no to business incentives, or are they saying no to a business license? Pike: If a business wants to come into the city, what I would say is ‘come let’s have a conversation about why you want to come to the city and what you are bringing to the city. I want to know what you a bringing to benefit the citizens of Eagle. If it’s something that is a strong anchor point for funding, then I think it has more catalyst to it than anybody else. That’s an important topic not to ignore.” Pike told BoiseDev in a follow-up phone call that Pierce told the city’s former economic development director he is not interested in new commercial and industrial businesses coming to Eagle. Tammie Halcomb, the city’s current economic development specialist, declined to speak to BoiseDev to corroborate or clarify any of Pike’s comments and directed any media inquiries to city staff. Pierce told BoiseDev after the departure of the economic development director, he reworked the job description for the economic development specialist to focus the job on encouraging the development of small businesses in Eagle instead of trying to attract new businesses into the city from outside. “We wanted that position to be more Eagle-focused,” he said. Pike: No lawsuits ‘against our own people’ The City of Eagle has spent its fair share of time in court recently. Over the past year, the city filed suit against the former chairman of the Eagle Arts Commission, which it dropped, and the nonprofit that ran the Eagle Senior Center for decades. Pike said if elected mayor he would approach situations like this differently, instead of going to court. “I don’t support any lawsuits against our own people,” he said. On the senior center, Pike was the liaison to the nonprofit for the past year. He said the city council’s decision to appropriate some COVID-19 relief funds to the Eagle Senior Center nonprofit in 2021 came after they were told the group could shut its doors and the city wanted to stop that from happening, but once he found out that the senior center had other funds in its bank account he wants the $100,000 repaid to the city. He said the matter was in “potential” litigation right now, even though the City of Eagle filed a fraud lawsuit against the Eagle Senior Center nonprofit in July. The nonprofit then countersued the city. This followed a legal demand letter from the city asking the Eagle Senior Center to repay the funds earlier this year. “This is about a nonprofit group that took money we gave in good faith and now we need those moneys back because we found out they have money,” he said. “If you’re asking about the legal part of getting the money back, absolutely I am in favor of that. But to sue the senior center? Absolutely not.” Pike called the city’s dust-up with the Arts Commission and Mark McAllister after the city said McAllister entered into contracts with artists for projects the Eagle City Council hadn’t approved “a mistake. He said the issue could have been solved with a conversation to sort out the issue and get the artists paid, instead of suing McAllister and two of the businesses who sent invoices to the city. “It could have gotten remedied by simple conversations to tell the artists ‘hey we didn’t do this right’,” he said. ‘Just hang on, we’re going to let them know we made a mistake and we’re trying to fix a mistake, but the artists are already working on their project’ and from my knowledge base is all I know about it. Whatever behind the door stuff, I cannot speak on that behalf because I don’t know.” Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that Pike told BoiseDev the previous Eagle economic development director had been given guidance not to attract new businesses to Eagle. The person who shared this information was incorrectly identified in a previous version of this story. BoiseDev will profile each candidate for Boise Mayor, Boise City Council, Meridian Mayor, Meridian City Council, Eagle Mayor, Eagle City Council, Star Mayor and Kuna Mayor as they formally file to run for office. Our full archive of coverage is available here.

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