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Local Ada elections bring in big money; Lachiondo outraises every candidate statewide

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Donors are pouring big money into some Ada County elections in the hopes of shifting the balance of power in Idaho’s most populous county.

Big donations from construction companies, associated organizations and individual conservatives are fueling two Republican and three nonpartisan candidates for ACHD, while independent contributions and funds from big Democratic names are powering their opponents.

Diana Lachiondo vs. Ryan Davidson

Ryan Davidson and Diana Lachiondo.
Ryan Davidson and Diana Lachiondo, candidates for the Ada Co. Commission

[Democrat Lachiondo faces off with Republican Davidson for Ada commission seat]

Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo’s reelection campaign outraised more money than every other candidate or political action committee in Idaho, with the exception of the Idaho State Democratic Party. With $206,636 in donations with less than a month to go in the race, Lachiondo has $139,694 left on hand to try and come out on top.

“Traditionally campaigns rely on house parties and big fundraising dinners: I have not held a single one in 2020,” Lachiondo said in an email about the high fundraising total. “I have made hundreds of personal calls and emails, and I’m proud to have received contributions from over one thousand people from all corners of this county, from both Democrats and Republicans, from friends, family, and even my second-grade teacher.”

The three member Ada County Commission flipped to a Democratic majority for the first time in years in 2018 when Lachiondo won her seat alongside fellow Democrat Kendra Kenyon. Facing heavy opposition to her votes for restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 on the board of Central District Health and Republican turnout boosted by President Donald Trump on the ballot, Democrats are hoping big money will help them keep control of the county.

Notable donors include:

  • Rep. Lauren Necochea, D-Boise
  • Rep. Jake Ellis, D-Boise
  • Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise
  • Real estate developer Clay Carley
  • Former ACHD Commissioner Paul Woods
  • Sen. Maryanne Jordan, D-Boise
  • Real estate developer Daivd Wali
  • Real estate developer and former Republican gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist
  • Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate AJ Balukoff
  • Boise Firefighters PAC
  • Professional Fire Fighters of Idaho
  • Real estate developer Doug Fowler
  • City Council President Elaine Clegg
  • City Council President Pro Tem Holli Woodings
  • Former St. Luke’s Health System CEO David Pate

Her opponent, GOP operative and former Ada County Republican Committee Chair Ryan Davidson, raised $16,534 in the same time period and has $7,070 on hand heading into the final stretch.

Notable donors include:

  • Former Ada County Commissioner Rick Visser
  • House Majority Leader Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star
  • Former Ada County Republican Committee Chairman Greg Ferch
  • Herbal supplement distributor Happy Hippo, LLC

Davidson also has the backing of the Conservative Citizens for Thoughtful Growth political action committee, which raised $47,000. Donors include $35,000 from a PAC associated with the Idaho Building Contractors Association, Shadow Mountain Homes, developer Jim Conger, and A-1 Heating and Air Conditioning.

An ad from the PAC on social media criticize Lachiondo for supporting “higher density, low income housing,” closed schools and business, “crazy green policies” and a platform of “turning Idaho into California.” Despite the highly produced Lachiondo ad and other graphics on the page to promote other candidates, there are no expenditures on file from the organization. The PAC’s social media page also promotes Former Idaho State Senator Rod Beck for the Ada Co. Commission, ACHD candidates Kara Veit and Dave McKinney and ACHD Commissioner Rebecca Arnold,

PAC Treasurer Steve Martinez, a builder with Tradewinds General Contracting, did not respond to a request for comment.

Rod Beck vs. Bill Rutherford

Rod Beck and Bill Rutheford
Rod Beck and Bill Rutheford

[Beck and Rutherford compete for open seat on Ada County Commission]

Another top fundraiser was Ada County Commissioner candidate and former Idaho State Senate Majority Leader Rod Beck, who is running in District 2 against Democrat Bill Rutherford. In 2020, he brought in $66,615 in donations and has $34,356 on hand as of the end of September.

Notable donors include:

  • Idaho Chooses Life PAC
  • SMC Properties LLC
  • Idaho Land Fund
  • James Clyde Homes
  • HMH Construction
  • I & E Enterprises LLC
  • Building Contractors Association
  • Butte Fence
  • Brown Construction
  • Irminger Construction
  • G. Wright Construction
  • Idaho Jet Center
  • Engineering Solutions LLP
  • Hastriter Construction
  • L3 Construction
  • Insight Holdings, LLC
  • BRP Inc.
  • Winning for Idaho PAC
  • Four PACs associated with Boise Hunter Homes
  • Avimor Development LLC
  • Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin
  • House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star
  • HHS Construction

His opponent, political newcomer Bill Rutherford, raised $12,400 in the same period and has $8,370 cash left to spend.

Notable donors include:

  • Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate AJ Balukoff
  • Rep. Sue Chew, D-Boise
  • Rep. Jake Ellis, D-Boise
  • Rep. Lauren Necochea, D-Boise
  • Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo
  • Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise

Rebecca Arnold vs. Alexis Pickering

Rebecca Arnold & Alexis Pickering
Rebecca Arnold & Alexis Pickering

[Pickering takes on 16-year incumbent Arnold for ACHD]

The three races for Ada County Highway District are also attracting donations. In the most high profile race, sixteen-year incumbent Rebecca Arnold was outraised by her challenger Alexis Pickering and her hopes of more aggressive action on public transit. Since the start of the year, Pickering took in $42,593 in donations and has $29,253 left to spend.

Notable donors include:

  • Retired St. Luke’s Health System CEO David Pate
  • Developer Casey Lynch of Roundhouse
  • Boise City Council President Pro Tem Holli Woodings
  • Developer Hannah Ball
  • Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo
  • Former gubernatorial candidate AJ Balukoff
  • Developer Scott Schoenherr
  • Boise City Council Member Jimmy Hallyburton
  • Developer Clay Carley
  • Developer David Wali
  • Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise
  • Rep. Lauren Necochea, D-Boise
  • Sen. Maryanne Jordan, D-Boise
  • Rep. Jake Ellis, D-Boise
  • Rep. John McCrostie, D-Boise
  • Boise City Council Member Patrick Bageant
  • Sen. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise
  • House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel

Arnold is not far behind with $35,175 raised this year, but she has only reported $1,341 in expenditures so far.

Notable donors include:

  • A PAC associated with the Idaho Building Contractors Association
  • Developer Hannah Ball
  • Retail West Properties LLC
  • G20 LLC
  • Eagle1 LLC
  • Pioneer Title
  • Developer Jim Conger
  • Construction association Idaho AGC

Jim Hansen vs. Kara Veit

Kara Veit and Jim Hansen
Kara Veit and Jim Hansen

[ACHD incumbent Hansen faces challenge from newcomer Veit]

Incumbent Jim Hansen raised $26,524 in his bid to keep his seat against challenger Kara Veit. Hansen is the only candidate at the local level in November to have earned financial support from Mayor Lauren McLean, who sent out letters from her campaign urging support for his campaign. He has been an advocate of public transit and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure at the agency, and clashed with Arnold over the issue.

Other notable donors include:

  • Developer Clay Carley
  • Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo
  • Capital City Developer Corporation Executive Director John Brunelle
  • Developer Scott Schoenherr
  • Boise City Council President Pro Tem Holli Woodings
  • Parklane Property Management Owner Kenneth Howell

To try and unset Hansen, Veit took in $11,341 and has another $8,484 left to spend before election day. She received backing from several groups representing construction interests.

Notable donors include:

  • A PAC associated with the Idaho Building Contractors Association
  • Idaho Associated General Contractors PAC
  • Developer Clay Carley
  • Uststick1 LLC
  • Hubbard1 LLC
  • Dave Evans Construction
  • RME Management
  • Developer Jim Conger
  • Brighton Corporation

Dave McKinney vs. Emilie Jackson-Edney

David McKinney and Emilie Jackson-Edney
David McKinney and Emilie Jackson-Edney

[Two newcomers compete for open ACHD left open by Commissioner Sara Baker]

In the third ACHD race, political unknowns Emily Jackson-Edney and Dave McKinney have brought in smaller amounts than other races, but the same groups have stepped up to donate. Jackson-Edney came out ahead with $12,213 and has another $11,766 to spend.

Notable donors include:

  • Boise City Council President Pro Tem Holli Woodings
  • Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise
  • Eagle House of Representatives Democratic candidate Shelley Brock
  • Rep. Lauren Necochea, D-Boise

McKinney took in $8,170, but outspent Jackson-Edney with only $5,034 left before the race concludes.

Notable donors include:

  • Tall Timber Consulting LLC
  • A PAC associated with the Idaho Building Contractors Association
  • Brighton Corp.
Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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