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Boise council member Sánchez expresses frustration at not being part of police chief interview process

ICCU: Business Unusual

During its regular city council meeting last night, Boise formally approved a new police chief. Ryan Lee will join the department next month.

“Ryan Lee is really excited to join our community,” Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said. “I could see it in his eye when I asked him through the Zoom why. He has friends here, he has kids who he is moving here. He has felt when he was here the connection we have to each other and this community. His approach is about transparency and citizen engagement and support and teamwork and how that fits into the department. I think that is a prefect fit for this community at this time.”

Sánchez says she wasn’t included

While the vote to confirm Lee was unanimous, one council members took issue with the process.

Councilmember Lisa Sánchez said she would support his nomination, but expressed frustration and said she wasn’t included in the interviews with Lee or other finalists.

“I very much wish I could have been a part of the interviews, and would have liked to have had the opportunity to meet you in person,” Sánchez said, addressing Lee via Zoom. “I very much felt I should have been part of this process. I’m the only person of color on this council. So moving forward, when we select our new fire chief, I want to be part of that process. It’s important.”

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During a break in the meeting, Sánchez told BoiseDev she felt she needed to speak publicly.

“The reason I have to say these things publicly is because this is the only way make progress,” she said. “When it comes to diversity, inclusion, and equity, it doesn’t happen automatically, but you have to be purposeful about it.”

Sánchez’s comments came days after she wrote a Facebook post about a man charged by Boise Police with shooting off a gun during a Black Lives Matter event in Boise earlier this month. The language in the letter got attention from local talk radio host Nate Shelman on KBOI-AM who has discussed it on his program in recent days.

Sánchez said she heard about a potential recall effort against her earlier in the day and said recent events have weighed on her.

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

Differing stories on process

Council President Elaine Clegg, Council Pro-Tem Holli Woodings, and council members TJ Thomson and Jimmy Hallyburton all talked to Lee. Sánchez and fellow member Patrick Bageant did not.

BoiseDev asked the Boise mayor’s office about the process that determined who would interview the police chief candidates.

“Council leadership determined who would participate in the panel interviews with Ryan Lee,” McLean wrote in a statement. “We also offered them additional opportunities.”

McLean’s spokesperson said the mayor offered the candidates up to council leadership to offer to the other members of the panel.

Clegg told BoiseDev the mayor’s office, not council leadership, decided who would take part in interviews.

“What’s the appropriate way for the council to engage in future searches,” Clegg said during the meeting, addressing McLean. “We ask you let us give you direction on how we engage.”

Sánchez said she had not been asked to be on interview panels.

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Don Day
Don is the founder and editor of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

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