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Boise Mayoral Candidate Conversations 2019: Wayne Richey

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Courtesy Wayne Richey
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Wayne Richey is, perhaps, the most provocative candidate on the ballot in the race for who should be the mayor of Boise. Richey advocates for making Boise less attractive, so that fewer people move to the area. He blames new residents for driving up the cost of living.

Richey spoke about his candidacy with Morning Edition host George Prentice.

"I'm not fighting for the new people who have moved here — I'm just not. I'm fighting for my friends and family that can't afford to live here anymore."

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: Tell us your resumé. What should we know about you?

WAYNE RICHEY: I've never ran for politics of any kind. I am a hometown boy, born and raised here. I have a lot of family here. I'm an auto body repairman. I ski, drive race stock cars. I shoot pumpkins. I love to barbecue, stuff like that.

PRENTICE: You shoot pumpkins?

RICHEY: I do that. I'm one of those guys that can shoot a pumpkin almost a mile.

PRENTICE: With a pumpkin ... cannon?

RICHEY: I have a big air tank and a 50-foot barrel, just a big peashooter. You can blow car doors off, you can shoot cars all day with pumpkins.

PRENTICE: Do you do this for your own enjoyment or do you do it for public spectacle?

RICHEY: We started out years ago at a corn maze in Eagle and it's grown and it's kind of dying off because we don't have that many places we can shoot anymore. But at our heyday, we had 11 cannons and fifty thousand people showed up.

PRENTICE: Okay, well, let's talk politics. What was the tipping point? And please be as specific as possible for me. What was the tipping point that led to your decision to run for mayor?

RICHEY: In the past few years, I've noticed a lot of my friends and family cannot afford to live here anymore, and that's not acceptable. Personally, about three months ago I paid my house off. For me, that was a huge deal. Okay. And I bought it nine years ago and it was a lot of work to pay that off. I really buckled down, paid it off, and I thought how horrible that would be to do everything I did to do that and still owe another one hundred thousand dollars. New people with Boise's wages and stuff like that. It's impossible. That kind of money for a home and our wages, it's just not possible. That's why so many people are moving out of the city and can't afford to live here anymore.

PRENTICE: But what would you do as mayor? Sooner than later to turn that around.

RICHEY: What would I do to fix that? Apparently, a $26 billion wall is out of the question. And look, I can't blame the people that are moving here. I would move here also. And it was never a Californian thing, but it's more of a new people. We need to do everything. We've rolled out a red carpet. We need to roll it up. We need to completely rebuild our, restructure our property taxes.

PRENTICE: Well can I pause you on the red carpet?

RICHEY: OK.

PRENTICE: To be certain, your campaign is unique.

RICHEY: Yes.

PRENTICE: And this is part of your campaign. Quote, We can't stop outsiders from moving here, but we can make our city less attractive. I plan on doing whatever it takes to get us off everyone's favorite top 10 cities list.

RICHEY: Exactly. I mean that. We need to be off the top ten list, people are moving here.

PRENTICE: But to make it less attractive, we would let things go. Sanitation, public safety.

RICHEY: That would be a last resort.But I'm not beyond that. What's the point of taking everything we've built, and it's not for our kids? It's not for the people that live here. The people that live here that are being priced out, they could care less. They really could. I mean, if they can't be here to enjoy. I know that sounds brutal. And yes, that would be a complete last resort. And we need to do property taxes, impact fees, stuff like that.

PRENTICE: But you have said on more than one occasion that you push back against funding for our park system.

RICHEY: At this point, if it's putting us on those top 10 list and that's what's bringing people here. I know that sounds horrible, but it's a reality. It really is. And it's the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about.

PRENTICE: Have you ever thought that by making a city less attractive, it actually might attract people who are less than attractive? And I mean that socially and culturally, not physically.

RICHEY: Oh, it could happen. I'm sure. I haven't thought about it much. And here's what's important. I'm not fighting for the new people who have moved here. I'm just not. I'm fighting for my friends and family that can't afford to live here anymore. They've heard the new people have driven up the price of place to live so high. It's just out of reach. City employee, let me use this for an example. The average city employee makes $50,000 a year. Walk into a bank. I'd like to buy a three hundred and fifty three thousand dollar starter home. Not going to happen. So city employees can't even live here.

PRENTICE: Can you talk a little bit about your campaign? It's my understanding that you don't think there were any donations on your financials, most recent financials. Is that correct?

RICHEY: This is all me. It's all on my dime.

PRENTICE: So it's out of your pocket because I've seen yard signs with your name on it. You are campaigning. This is all out of your pocket.

RICHEY: It's twelve hundred bucks so far, you know. Which is not a lot of money compared to the other candidates.

PRENTICE: What can you talk a little bit about the campaign experience over the last several weeks? You participated in some forums. You're getting out there. You're talking to folks. You're listening to folks.

RICHEY: I talked to a senator one time.

PRENTICE: A state senator?

RICHEY: Yes, an acquaintance, a few years back. And I told them I wanted to run for state representative and his advice at the time, do it. You'll have a ball. You'll never, ever regret running for public office. And that kind of help, that kind of put me over the edge.

PRENTICE: Are you having a ball?

RICHEY: I've learned a ton. I've met tons of people. Yes. I encourage anybody out there that wants to run for public office. Give it a shot. You know, and I'm taking it seriously. I'm not happy-go-lucky, yo lets run for mayor. I have a cause. It's something I'm working for. I'm running for twelve hundred dollars. I think a very active campaign.

PRENTICE: There are some formidable candidates on the ballot this year.

RICHEY: Once upon a time at one of the forums. And seriously, going into this, I have no right being mayor. I've never had any experience at this. What am I doing running for mayor? But I went to the forums and I listened to them and I listened to what they have in mind for the city versus my cause. And I have every right to be mayor. I have a cause. I have people I'm fighting for. Yes. I have every right to be mayor. And I'm going for it completely.

PRENTICE: Well, you're a lifelong resident. Have you ever voted for Dave Bieter for mayor? Because this would be his fifth go around.

RICHEY: I don't remember. I probably did. You know, I probably did. Yeah, I couldn't. I don't remember. I do vote. I voted in. I voted every presidential election since I was 18.

PRENTICE: What might you do in the first year of office? That he hasn't done in the time that he's been in office?

RICHEY: My first year in office. I would, this growth thing, I believe, is a valley problem. What affects Boise affects the entire valley. I really think we really need to tie together with the other mayors in the valley and come up with a battle plan for a lot of these different things. Clean air. What's the point of having a clean air thing in Boise when we have one hundred and twenty thousand cars on I-80 every day? You know, eighty four. Sixty thousand gallons of gasoline. That's a valley problem.

PRENTICE: So you would advocate for emission testing for all vehicles in the Treasure Valley?

RICHEY: I don't like emission testing, actually.

PRENTICE: Well, but that moves in the direction of clean air.

RICHEY: Sure. Cars are pretty efficient. They really are. And everybody's upset about the air and whatnot. But we do have two months every winter of inversion.

PRENTICE: What can a mayor do about cleaning the air?

RICHEY: I really think that during those two months of the inversion, every winter, we probably take much more drastic steps to cut back on emissions. Stuff like that. And like I say, this is a valley thing. This isn't a city thing.

PRENTICE: To incentivize what, public transportation? Certain times of the year?

RICHEY: It's hard because Boise's a car town.

PRENTICE: But that's how you get people out of the cars, is you put them in public transportation.

RICHEY: At this particular point with the people that live here, I don't see public transportation as being that effective.

PRENTICE: How about raising the price of a gallon of gas?

RICHEY: That would help. Sure. If you wanted to change the gas tax, that would probably work.

PRENTICE: Can I assume that we might see your name on a ballot in the future if you're having this much fun?

RICHEY: What you might see if I'm not elected mayor is maybe proposing a new property tax something or other. I have a property tax schedule. It would go off of how long you've lived here.

PRENTICE: I've seen that. And basically, you're giving a huge break to…

RICHEY: Grandma and grandpa.

PRENTICE: To grandma and grandpa, and a very high burden to a new resident. But you have to assume the new residents are sometimes eeking by a livable wage as well.

RICHEY: Boise's leading the nation in houses paid for with cash. There's a lot of people out there selling their homes somewhere else for a lot of money coming here and paying cash. They're taking advantage of everything we built and not having to pay for it.

PRENTICE: But your actuarial, if you will, would have a higher property tax rate for a newer resident and a much lower tax rate for someone who has lived here most, if not all of their lives.

RICHEY: Absolutely. Why should longtime residents pay for the growing pains of new people moving here? It might deter them from moving here. And I'm OK with that.

PRENTICE: To the degree that some residents, if you will, grandma and grandpa might pay no property tax?

RICHEY: They've lived here their whole life. They worked hard. They've paid taxes for in this city for a long time. They deserve a break.

PRENTICE: But again, you're talking about property owners. So how about everyone in between? Because the number of people who rent properties. That number continues to grow.

RICHEY: It does.

PRENTICE: But is it your sense that that would be passed down to renters?

RICHEY: Probably.

PRENTICE: Where are you going to be on election night?

RICHEY: Probably at my house or over my mom's. I have a very close family.

PRENTICE: Gonna have a party?

RICHEY: Probably little get together something. We'll all be watching TV.

PRENTICE: We will all be looking very closely. Wayne Richey, thank you so very much.

RICHEY: Thank you.

Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio

George Prentice has been honored for his decades-long career in broadcast and print journalism. As news editor of Boise Weekly, he won multiple awards for his investigative reporting and took home top prizes in the fields of crime/courts, environmental, health, religion and feature reporting.