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Nampa Chamber of Commerce holds forum for CWI trustee candidates

Six candidates running for CWI's board of trustees seats sit at table in front of an audience.
Nampa Chamber of Commerce
Candidates Nicole Bradshaw, Molly Lenty, Jan Zarr, Jim Reames, Annie Pelletier-Hightower and Thad Butterworth discussed why they were running for seats on CWI's board of trustees at a forum hosted by Nampa's Chamber of Commerce.

The candidates for College of Western Idaho’s Board of Trustees election had a chance to introduce themselves this week at a forum organized by the Nampa Chamber of Commerce.

The race made headlineslast week when four of the contenders were endorsed by the Ada County Republican Committee, an unusual move for a non-partisan race. The board consists of five trustees, with four seats up for election in November.

Despite the attention the GOP candidates received for some of their talking points leading up to the forum, the contenders largely stayed away from politics when discussing why they were running for the unpaid positions.

In a video posted on Facebook, several candidates - Jan Zarr, Thad Butterworth, Alisha Hickman and Ryan Spoon- had denounced CWI’s wasteful spending on “woke training” and falsely accused the college of providing funds for this year’s Boise Pride.

Incumbent Chair Molly Lenty has been serving on the board for the last 4 years. Speaking at the forum, she said there is misinformation about the responsibilities of trustees.

“I think there's also a risk if board members come in thinking that they are responsible for getting in the weeds around curriculum if they think that they're coming in to cut a lot of programs or spending or things that aren't really a part of our focus and oversight,” she said.

Zarr told the forum he thinks education as a whole is in turmoil.

“Note I said education is in turmoil. I didn't say that CWI is in a turmoil,” he added. “Nor did I say that I'm here to defund or dismantle the college.”

But Zarr also emphasized, along with all candidates present, the need for trustees to work together.

“The role is to be collaborative, is to listen not only to your staff, to your students, to your constituents, and making sure that all voices are heard throughout the board,” he said.

Trustees are elected for two-to four-year terms and must reside in the zone they are representing.

Three Incumbents are vying for reelection - Jim Reames, Annie Pelletier-Hightower and Lenty. Newcomers Gordon Simpson and Nicole Bradshaw are also on the ballot with Ada County GOP-endorsed Zarr, Thad Butterworth, Alisha Hickman and Ryan Spoon.

As the Canyon County reporter, I cover the Latina/o/x communities and agricultural hub of the Treasure Valley. I’m super invested in local journalism and social equity, and very grateful to be working in Idaho.

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