A new face to politics is jumping in to try and unseat Garden City’s longtime mayor.
Hannah Ball, 36, filed paperwork earlier this month to challenge four-term incumbent Mayor John Evans to lead Ada County’s smallest city. If elected, Ball said she wants the city to work on affordable housing, create more opportunities for the public and business community to weigh in on city issues and use Garden City funds to address some transportation and public safety issues.
Ball said her biggest priority is bringing more transparency to Garden City, which she said takes several forms. Along with her goal to improve the amount of information available on the city’s website, she said Garden City should have a public comment period at the beginning of every city council meeting for members of the community and business owners to talk with elected officials.
“I think what I’m understanding from the residents and the business community is they want their hot topics to be heard and they want to have a platform for communications and communicate on issues that are relevant to them, whether it’s safety or affordable housing,” Ball said. “They want a platform to collaborate with city officials.”
Ball touts ‘community success’ of market, First Friday
Through her LLC, Ball has been involved in community development projects and events in Garden City in recent years. She made a big splash when she earned Garden City City Council’s approval for a Specific Area Plan to redevelop 34th Street into a walkable development along the waterfront. That plan eventually fell apart after a disagreement with her business partner and all of the properties she owned were sold off to various developers at the beginning of 2021, BoiseDev previously reported.
She said her biggest successes have been the 34th Street Market and the First Friday Art & Studio Stroll events, which have helped launch new businesses in Garden City.
“Even with the art event, that was the perfect example of where in year one we had a great idea but we weren’t sure who was going to show up but we troubleshot it and now it’s very vibrant and very successful,” Ball said. “Maybe it’s not measured in monetary success, but it’s definitely measured in community success.”
Ball was born in New Meadows before moving with her family to Garden City as a child. She finished school in the area before joining the Army. Ball eventually returned to the Treasure Valley with the goal of graduating from Boise State University’s ROTC program and continuing her military service, but she dropped out after she took a class on housing and community building.
“I attended the seminar and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life,” she said. “I didn’t feel a need to obtain a degree, I just wanted to dedicate my time to serving the community.”
A lack of affordable housing ‘will hurt our entire community’
Ball said developing housing for a range of income levels should be Garden City’s focus in the coming years to keep workers nearby to staff the city’s growing hospitality industry and keep people from being priced out. She did not have any specific plans yet, but Ball said Garden City’s small size should keep it nimble and creative in finding “out of the box” solutions for the housing crisis. She pointed to Boise’s ongoing pilot to study allowing tiny homes as a possible solution or collaborations with organizations like NeighborWorks as a way forward.
For years, Garden City had a large number of mobile home parks that provided affordable housing for the Boise metro area. Many of these parks have been removed in recent years as the area redevelops, including on the parcels of land Ball purchased for her 34th Street redevelopment project. Ball said finding a replacement for those mobile homes as they age is important to keep Garden City strong.
“Some of the parks may be meeting their life expectancy as far as general maintenance goes at this moment,” Ball said. “I think we’ll see these parks transition out and if we don’t have solutions to replace that affordable component, I agree it will hurt our entire community.”
Ball also hopes Garden City can be more proactive in responding to resident complaints about speeding traffic and crosswalks. She if the Idaho Department of Transportation and the Ada County Highway District don’t plan to make changes, Garden City could step in instead.
“I do have a lot of neighbors that have said cars go a little bit fast or we might need an additional crosswalk here and I think the tone that they’ve received in the past is
that’s up to ACHD or ITD,’ but I think we need to be collaborative with those agencies and if we saw a need for a crosswalk and ITD or ACHD said that’s not in our work plan, I think the city of Garden City we should look at that independently and if there’s a need we need to accomplish it as far as public safety is concerned,” Ball said.
BoiseDev will profile each candidate for Boise City Council, Garden City City Council and Meridian City Council as they formally file to run for office.