Sanchez, Woodings spar over leadership role in first moments of new council

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A long, mostly celebratory Boise City Council meeting, ended with a few contentious moments Tuesday night.

The newly-seated council held elections for its two leadership positions. Elaine Clegg received a nomination and unanimous vote for council president.

Then, TJ Thomson nominated Holli Woodings to the number two slot, council president pro tem. He noted it would be historic to have all three members of city leadership be women. After a second on the motion from Clegg, the council moved forward with a vote.

[Voices: McLean sworn in as new Boise mayor as Bieter steps aside; new council seated]

Lisa Sánchez stopped before casting her vote, and spoke for several moments.

“The reality is, council member Woodings doesn’t need my vote to become our pro tem. She doesn’t need me at all. But I need her. A lot of times I walk into rooms and I’m the only one of my kind,” Sánchez, the first Latina member of the council said. “Councilmember Woodings and I spoke before the meeting. I told her, the reason I ran for office in 2017, is children, who could be mine, are locked up at the border… Children, who for all intents and purposes are American, but for a piece of paper, are not American. For someone like me, I need these people to be good people I need them to welcome me. Before I cast my vote, I would humbly ask that in 2021, would council member Woodings, would she nominate me to be council president pro tem, and would she mentor me in 2020 to take on that role?”

A few seconds of scattered laughter and silence followed.

“I very much respect what you said just now. I really feel put on the spot right now,” Wooding said. “And it’s a little uncomfortable. As part of my remarks should I become pro ten, I want to commit and I would commit to making everyone on this council as successful as they can be.  I want to help everyone accomplish their goals. Councilmember Sánchez, it has been an honor to watch you grow, and I commit to helping you continue that growth in your service to the city of Boise.”

Sánchez then asked Woodings if she would like her to vote yes. Woodings said “whatever you choose.”

After pausing for an additional seven seconds, Sánchez voted yes.

A ‘quid pro quo?’

After the meeting, Sánchez said Woodings did not consult her to ask for her vote before the meeting.

“I was in a position where I didn’t feel she was ready to lead yet,” Sánchez told BoiseDev.

She said she did not believe she was soliciting something of value in exchange for a vote, which could violate state and federal laws.

When asked if Woodings thought Sánchez was asking for something of value in exchange for her vote, Woodings replied “Do you mean a quid pro quo?” She then said she didn’t know.

Woodings said she and Clegg discussed the council leadership roles before the meeting. She said they both consulted with “about half the council” to avoid a “serial meeting issue,” and that she didn’t talk to Sánchez.

“I wasn’t aware there was an issue until right before the meeting,” Woodings said.

The rest of the council then cast their votes in favor of Woodings.

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