Mayor Nancy Chaney and challenger Bill Lambert have different visions for Moscow, and residents will be able to choose their preference in the Nov. 5 city elections.
Lambert and Chaney both have a long history in Moscow.
Lambert moved to Moscow in 1977 and managed Safeway for 33 years in addition to serving in city government.
Chaney arrived in 1980 and has since acquired a master’s degree in environmental science from the University of Idaho. She has served in city government for the past 10 years — eight of which were spent as mayor.
Both candidates emphasized the need for University of Idaho students to vote in the election.
“Listen, anybody that’s 18 or older should vote,” Lambert said. “There’s no reason not to. It’s one of the God-given rights that we have here in America that a lot of countries don’t have. It’s as important for a young person to vote for their future, as a middle aged person or a senior.”
Chaney said it’s important to take the responsibility seriously.
“The outcomes matter,” Chaney said. “In our case, it matters in terms of do we want to be the homogenous — if you look at the candidates who are running, we have a chance that we would have an all middle-aged, white, male city council. What the heck is that about? That’s not Moscow, Idaho.”
Lambert said growth in Moscow is the focus of his platform.
“My basic premise is to get growth in the City of Moscow,” Lambert said. “Business growth, develop jobs, work in our industrial park so we can get good businesses here, and to help grow the University of Idaho — which has been stagnant for a decade.”
However, he said Moscow needs to find focus in order to make that growth happen.
“We need to keep our focus. And in Moscow, we’ve lost our focus,” Lambert said. “I mean the university has lost its focus. I think Moscow has lost its focus. We need to get the focus back, stay on that path for focus, and never get off of it, because when you get off that focus, that’s what leads to failure.”
Lambert said his focus is on Moscow and Moscow only. Lambert also emphasized a need for growth at UI.
“We’re roughly between 10,500 and 11,000 students at the university and we need to raise that,” Lambert said.
Lambert said he would work closely with the new UI president, whom he hopes will retain the presidency long-term.
“When I become mayor, I plan on working closely with the new university president because whoever that person is has to be on board with what we’re doing as he’s seeing (to) the university,” Lambert said. “And hopefully whoever the board of regents selects will be a long-term person and not somebody that’s been here one or two years and they’re gone, because we need to have somebody that’s got their dog in the fight to make the thing work.”
Lambert said he offers an alternative to current leadership.
“Do you want it to be the way it’s been for the last eight or 10 years, or do you want it to change?” Lambert said. “Because, what we’ve got is what you’re going to get in the future.”
Lambert said he is straightforward and very optimistic about the City of Moscow, the university and the upcoming elections.
“I’m a real blunt guy. I don’t beat around the bush, I call it as I see it. That’s the type of guy I am,” Lambert said. “We’ve got a terrific opportunity in front of us if we run the ball … it can be done, and I’m very, very optimistic. I will make it happen.”
Chaney was elected mayor in 2005 and has held the position since. She said there are currently no major issues to deal with in Moscow.
“Well, I can tell you when I go door-to-door and I ask people what are their issues, do they have concerns to share with me, they say life’s pretty good,” Chaney said. “So, there aren’t major issues around here.”
Chaney said she realizes the economy is a hot topic, but there are certain other things to watch out for.
“So jobs and the economy are on everybody’s minds, but long-term I think we absolutely have to look at basin-wide management of our shared water resource,” Chaney said. “We need to start now before it becomes a critical situation, as you see water wars starting around the United States, as they have been around the world. We’re not there yet. We have somewhat the luxury of being able to plan for the long range, and Moscow is a leader in trying to do that as we look at the prospect of surface water containment and a reservoir or series of reservoirs that would augment the groundwater supply.”
Chaney added that a good, working relationship with the University of Idaho needs to be maintained, as UI is Moscow’s largest employer. She also said jobs need to grow in underrepresented areas like Legacy Crossing and the industrial park in southeast Moscow.
However, Chaney said she does seek to focus more on the region as a whole rather than just Moscow.
“We have some candidates who have the blinders on and they say, ‘we’re about Moscow, anything’s Moscow, stay here, don’t go to meetings, don’t do anything outside this zone, and it’s all about jobs and nothing else.’ I’m saying it’s about the whole big picture,” Chaney said. “It’s livability of this place, the attractiveness of the social climate as much as the physical environment. You need jobs, but you need to want to live in the place where you have that job.”
Chaney is a self-described informed optimist who wants to continue forward. She said Moscow is a great place and she’d like to see that continue.
“I’d like to continue our momentum,” Chaney said. “I mean, we’ve accomplished a lot and we have a lot more we are about to accomplish. We’ve strategically laid the groundwork for a different and outstanding future.”
Additionally, Chaney said Moscow’s economic environment for businesses has improved during her time in office.
“Our commercial valuation has continued to go up. The numbers are good,” Chaney said. “If you look at the budgets that are posted on the city’s website, if you look at my state of the city addresses, you can see that the business startups that have come to the community since I’ve been mayor. Local government can’t assume credit or liability for the arrival or departure of businesses, but we can make others aware of it.”
Chaney said she has received terrific feedback from the Departments of Commerce and Labor for the state of Idaho.
“I hope I have made a positive difference,” Chaney said. “I can tell you, every day I work, I am more and more inspired. I love my job.”
Andrew Jenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org