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Boise Mayoral Candidate Conversations 2019: Cortney Nielsen

Courtesy Cortney Nielsen

Cortney Nielsen is one of the seven men and women running to be Boise's mayor. She's a political novice. She says she's running for Boise's top job because people want, in her words, "fresh, new ideas."

She spoke with Morning Edition host George Prentice.

"I saw Bieter and McLean bickering back and forth, and I went, 'We deserve better than that.' I play well with others."

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: Cortney Nielsen is one of seven individuals running for mayor in the city of Boise. 


CORTNEY NIELSEN: Absolutely. Yes, I am. Thank you, George.


PRENTICE: Welcome. What does your resume look like? 


NIELSEN: Oh, customer service. People. I have a passion for people. Engaging with people. It's full of everything. It's full of experience. It's full of life. 


PRENTICE: So what kind of jobs have you held? 


NIELSEN: Public relations. Right now, I'm doing sales and marketing and merchandising. I've had construction. I've been painting. I've done it all. I've had networks and everything. And I think that creates a lot of experience on my behalf. 


PRENTICE: Municipal elections are usually nonpartisan, that said, how might you describe your politics to a stranger?


NIELSEN: I'm an independent. I think that politics, in general, and government has gotten kind of egocentric, agenda driven and I wanted to join because they were missing the boat. They were missing people, people being the agenda, people being the passion, people not profit. I mean, people are the profit. So that's the exciting thing. 


PRENTICE: What was the tipping point and please be as specific as possible, what was the tipping point that led to your decision to run for mayor? 


NIELSEN: Well, two years of sleepless nights and intuition, saying you're going to run for mayor, you're gonna run for mayor and I didn't understand why because I'm not a politician. But I have a passion for people and I opened up KTVB’s app and saw Bieter and McLean bickering back and forth and I went, we deserve better than that. I play well with others, I love engaging and I just thought we need somebody that you know wants to share their toys and build relationships and isn't tit for tat This is inclusion of everybody and exciting and opportunities and expansion and I don't know.


PRENTICE: But running for mayor is a really big deal. It's not cheap, you've got to raise funds, you have to get the word out. It’s a really big deal and it's rather difficult. 


NIELSEN: It's been actually very easy. I have 125 stores from Mountain Home to Vail, Ontario so...


PRENTICE: Stores of?


NIELSEN: Convenience, Fred Meyers, I'm in all these stores. It's like I've been campaigning since 2010. 


PRENTICE: Okay, so your work takes you to the store?


NIELSEN: Absolutely. 


PRENTICE: Tell me what you do in the stores. 


NIELSEN: I represent clients like Mondelez, Kellogg's, I represent Foster Grant, I represent Dannon, Minute Maid, everybody and I work with people from maintenance to management and everybody in between. So I have wonderful relationships all over the Treasure Valley. I think that I work two jobs. I'm with the working people that value life and value higher wages and would love to live and work here in Boise.


PRENTICE: History tells us that incumbents are rarely unseated, and usually the only way that they are unseated is through a scandal, or if there's a public safety issue, or if the economy is bad, and we don't have any of those. So you've got to defeat an incumbent who has been readily elected and re-elected many times. 


NIELSEN: Yes, and I'm up for the challenge. It's all uphill from here. And I love saying that because anybody can go downhill. I love going uphill because that's where the adventure is. And this has been fun. I've actually had a blast, I've met so many wonderful people and what I hear on a regular basis is that people want something fresh, something new, some new ideas, somebody that creates balance. What I've been told is that it's not balanced with everybody. The focus is downtown Boise, north end, the fire department and it's so much more than that Boise is 80 square miles of fabulous, there's no such thing as sprawl, you can't define Boise as sprawl Boise is beautiful and exciting. 


PRENTICE: But there's a concern for sprawl or the possibility of sprawl. And that's why, for instance, we try to protect the foothills. 


NIELSEN: Oh, and I'd love, yes, I guess I’m misunderstanding the idea of sprawl going up to Bogus. 


PRENTICE: Sprawl is sprawl. 




PRENTICE: I mean you go to another city in California etc. and their equivalent of foothills are covered with townhomes.


NIELSEN: Yeah. And I love our foothills. I hiked in those foothills, it's the foothills, I look at them, and I'm like, are they going to go all the way to the top? Is that the plan? I mean, that defeats the purpose of the beautiful mountains. 


PRENTICE: On the ballot, in addition to all the races are a couple of initiatives, and one of them is an initiative that would require voter approval on a library project. Let's first talk about that. How would you weigh in on and there's been plenty of conversation in this town, about a possible new library?


NIELSEN: No on the library as of the grand gesture, I think moving the library to a new location. I heard there was talk of the location where the stadium was going to go on shoreline and Americana. And I think that was a beautiful idea. It has great parking. It's still right by the greenbelt. I thought that was a beautiful idea. Or open more libraries across Boise, I mean,

spread out.


PRENTICE: But you're not a fan, for instance of a bigger library on the footprint where it is now?


NIELSEN: No, moving the log cabin doing all that no, not a fan.


PRENTICE: There's another initiative about a possible stadium project. And how do you weigh in on that? 




PRENTICE: Just no? No, it doesn't matter where it would go?


NIELSEN: No, if the taxpayers have to put the bill on that no. If the developer wants to pay for it himself. You go Boy!


PRENTICE: As you know, the winner of this race has to get the majority of the votes and there's a possibility of another race of a runoff race. So are you ready? You're ready for this?


NIELSEN: I’m ready. I’ll pull my big girl panties up. I'm ready.


PRENTICE: Tell me about the experience because there have been a few forums now that you've participated and tell me what you've learned and then how it's going for you, and I'm sensing a fair amount of optimism. 


NIELSEN: Oh, I love it. It's been so much fun. The first forum at CVI was wonderful. It was fun. I smiled the whole time. I really literally couldn't take the smile off my face because I was sitting there. 

PRENTICE: But that was your first test? 


NIELSEN: Yes, yes, it was. It was fun. I was so relaxed, which was blowing my mind because I was like, I feel very comfortable. This is odd. I mean, not that I've always done very well with people and people relations, but I wasn't nervous. I didn't know. I mean, I don't have all the answers for everything. And I think that that makes me human. Because if I had all the answers for everything, then I wouldn't get much more out of life.


PRENTICE: Do you like running for office? In other words, if there is a possibility that you lose this race, would you run for another office?


NIELSEN: I don't know. I'm just going wherever the doors open. I mean, really, this has been a wonderful experience and who knows what is next? You know, I'm excited.


PRENTICE: Cortney Nielsen.Thank you so much. 


NIELSEN: Absolutely, George. Thank you.


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