Josh Cummings Head Shot.jpg

Josh Cummings, Meridian City Council seat 6 candidate

Courtesy of Josh Cummings

Name: Josh Cummings

Campaign website: www.josh4meridian.com

Age: 43

Family: Wife: Julie, Daughters: Anabelle and Zoey

Occupation and previous relevant work experience: Broker/Owner, Crosswinds Realty. Retired Air Force veteran (8 years enlisted, 13 years commissioned)

Political experience, including campaigns: None

2017 campaign endorsements: I am endorsed by ordinary citizens and local business owners.

Have you ever filed bankruptcy for yourself or for your business? No

Have you been convicted of any misdemeanor or felony charges (traffic citations not included)? No

Why are you running for this office?

I am running for Meridian City Council because I have a strong desire to serve my community. I truly love Meridian and want to ensure that it remains a great place to call home. Because of my military background, I know exactly how important having a strong leadership team can be to successful mission accomplishment, and I would like to offer my leadership and problem solving skills to the city of Meridian as we face a booming population and the challenges that will accompany this growth.

What are the top three issues facing the city, and how will you address those issues?

Economic growth and development: I will work closely with the Mayor and city staff to encourage new businesses and companies to relocate to Meridian. I will focus on bringing the "right kinds of jobs" to the area; those that pay a family wage so that our citizens can afford to live, work, and play right here in Meridian. I will advocate for Meridian to grow from a "bedroom community" into its own vibrant city with a fabric of diversity and economic opportunity for all residents.

City Services: I don't believe in reactive policies that play catch up with a growing population or "band aid fixes" that cost the taxpayer more in the long run. I will support funding to equip our police and firemen with the best tools and training they need to do the job efficiently and safely. I will ensure that as Meridian grows, our green spaces remain a priority. Our Parks and Recreation department is a crown jewel and huge part of what makes our city special.

Roads and Schools: I will seek new ways to engage with the Ada County Highway District and Idaho Transportation Department and ensure that the decision makers are aware of the direction our city is growing. While we don't control the purse strings, we do have the ability to work together as we grow. I support ACHD and the economic principles that led to its creation in 1971. With regard to schools, the biggest problem Meridian faces is overcrowding due to our growing population.

Do you approve of the way Meridian has grown over the past 10 years? If so, please explain. If not, please explain what you would do differently as a City Council member.

As a newer resident of Meridian, I cannot speak to the growth of the past 10 years, but I can tell you that as a City Council member, I'll have an open door policy to concerned citizens. I'll strive to be open to hearing opposing viewpoints, and when all is said and done, I'll always act with transparency and integrity. My decision making will begin with attempting to first answer, "Is this good for Meridian?" Making difficult decisions is often at the crux of leadership, and I will never shirk that responsibility.

Though Meridian doesn't manage roads or schools, how would issues of traffic congestion and school capacity influence your decision to approve or deny an annexation, rezone or comprehensive plan amendment?

We cannot allow growth and land use decisions to take place in a vacuum. We must be mindful of the existing infrastructure and work with the governing agencies to have intentional, smart growth. Having said that, change is inevitable, and we must all recognize that sometimes growth and development is the first step to getting the funds to improve roads and build schools. It's the classic chicken and egg story; do we build an underutilized road/school to service a developing area first or do we allow development to occur and pay for improvements to the roads/schools with impact fees and other associated byproducts of growth such as property taxes. There is a balancing act involved, and that's where leadership comes into play.

What is your stance on the city taking the allowable 3 percent property tax increase for the next budget year?

I strongly support the 3% increase because it is directly resulted in additional police and firemen positions. Compared to comparable cities, we are understaffed in both of these areas and additional first responders will only increase public safety. Also, I believe that we enjoy a relatively low property tax rate when compared to the rest of the Treasure Valley and the country at large. The high level of amenities that the city provides comes with a price to pay, and I feel that the 3% increase was both justified and within reason.

Does Meridian need more affordable housing options? What is the City Council's role in this issue, if any?

Yes, Meridian needs more affordable housing options. However, the role of the City Council is limited in ways to influence housing affordability. It's ultimately up to the existing free market to respond to this demand. I don't support the use of taxpayer dollars to specifically subsidize Section 8 housing in Meridian.

Does Meridian need more public transit options? What is the City Council's role in this issue, if any?

Yes, I think that Meridian would benefit from more public transit options. Traffic congestion is getting worse, and the availability of alternative solutions in the form of a light rail for commuters, bus service for intra-city trips, or other mass transit options, can benefit the city. I would encourage the use of new tools, such as "road diets" in certain areas that have been proven to speed up the throughput of traffic while simultaneously improving safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. City Council's role is to be an advocate for the city at the ACHD and ITD table.

Should the city put more resources toward services for the homeless and domestic violence victims? Why or why not?

No, I don't feel as though the city needs to allocate more resources toward services for the homeless. Through our partnerships with several organizations specializing in care and treatment for the homeless population throughout the Treasure Valley, we are efficiently providing help to the most vulnerable in our society.

Yes, I do believe that the city should provide more resources toward services for victims of domestic violence. Those resources should primarily be spent in helping to educate and prevent this atrocious crime from occurring in the first place. Encouraging everyone in our community to both identify the signs of domestic abuse in all its forms and take the additional steps of reaching out to potential victims or notifying authorities could go a long way to stopping this crime.

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