City Council President Pro Tem Lisa Sanchez is ready for another term.
Last month, Sanchez, 50, filed her initial paperwork to run for a second term on the Boise City Council and continue her work as the city’s first Latina council member. In an interview with BoiseDev, Sanchez said she hopes to continue representing the interests of low-income Boiseans whose voices are often shut out of politics.
The specifics of Boise’s 2021 November election are still up in the air after the Idaho Legislature failed to pass a law clarifying the process for transitioning to from at-large elections to districts. City Council President Elaine Clegg told BoiseDev the city plans to hire a cartographer to draw a map of the districts and release it by the end of June, but it’s unknown yet which three of the six districts will be up for election in the fall.
If the district where Sanchez lives is not chosen to be up this year by the consultant, she will not be permitted to run again this year.
Sanchez brings economic diversity
Since coming on board with the City of Boise in 2017, Sanchez said she has been “blown away” by the efforts of city staff to serve the public, but there needs to be more input from Boiseans who have the everyday lived experience of living paycheck to paycheck like her to build better policy.
“It’s very impressive and I appreciate all that (staff does), however I also see what happens when you don’t have diversity and aren’t inclusive of diverse perspectives,” Sanchez said. “I’m not just talking about women or people of color. I’m talking about folks who live in the city of Boise at a different economic level. I think it’s important that we have people whose lives are immediately affected by policy decisions we make in the city.”
Sanchez is the only renter currently on Boise City Council and has been open about her experiences struggling during the Great Recession. This included losing her home near Boise State University to foreclosure while she was on furlough from her job as an investigator at the Idaho Human Rights Commission.
If she’s reelected, Sanchez said she hopes to prioritize affordable housing projects and other assistance to those struggling to get by as housing prices continue to climb. She pointed to her 2019 ordinance capping rental application fees as an example of her work to support tenants.
Recall attempt brought out supporters
Another major priority of Sanchez’s is more of a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at the City of Boise. She was a major proponent of the city signing a contract with Boise-based company The Dignitas Agency in March 2020 to create a strategic plan to diversify the city. She said a focus on bringing in more perspectives will make the city’s policy better and build a stronger workforce over time.
“I think initially folks think that the (diversity, equity and inclusion) part of our work should be an add on, but that’s not how I view it,” she said. “I think DEI should be a thread that runs through every single bit of work we do at the city.”
Sanchez faced a recall attempt last summer, mostly stemming from some of her comments about white supremacy and racism in America in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd. She said although she faced a lot of criticism, there was also a resurgence of support from her voters who supported her authenticity.
“At the end of the day, I stand by my words,” she said. “It was my truth and a lot of people came out to support me. The same people I believe who sent me to city hall to begin with reasserted their support of me last year and I found it incredibly moving, but moving forward I will be more mindful.”
BoiseDev will profile each candidate for Boise City Council and Meridian City Council as they announce they are running for office.