Name: Luke Cavener

Campaign website: www.Luke4Meridian.com

Age: 36

Family:  I got lucky and married up. I have a knock out for a wife, Adrean and two amazing children. Gunner (age 10) and Lincoln (18 months)

Occupation and previous relevant work experience: Director of Government Affairs for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACSCAN). I am incredibly fortunate to represent cancer patients, caregivers, and survivors in the halls of government. Previously I served as the Community Liaison for the City of Meridian. In addition, my wife and I own Mosaic Advisors, a boutique public policy, and communications firm.

Political experience, including campaigns: I currently sit on the Meridian City Council where I’m proud to represent our community. Over my life, I’ve been fortunate to work and volunteer on many local, statewide and national political campaigns for individuals such as Dirk Kempthorne, Butch Otter, and Tammy de Weerd. In addition, I worked in Washington D.C. for Senator John Ensign.

2017 campaign endorsements: I’m proud and honored to have endorsements by a wide cross-section of community, business, and faith leaders in Meridian including the entire current Meridian City Council, Past City Council Members Charlie Rountree and David Zaremba, Meridian area legislators including Senator Chuck Winder, Senator Lori Den Hartog, Senator Fred Martin, Representative Jason Monks, Representative Joe Palmer, Representative James Holtzclaw, Meridian Firefighters IAFF Local 4627, Ada County Highway District Commissioner Kent Goldthorpe, West Ada School Board Trustee Steve Smylie, West Ada School Board Trustee Mike Vuittonet, Christine Donnell, Former Joint School District Superintendent and Current Chamber Director (Interim), Dan Clark, Executive Director of the Meridian Food Bank, Ada County Teenage Republicans and many more. Visit www.Luke4Meridian.com to view a complete and updated list.

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?

As Meridian has become a community with over 100,000 citizens, it is a necessity for proven, time-tested, conservative leadership that understands both our amazing community’s past while having a vision for Meridian’s future. I’ve lived in Meridian since I was just four years old. I’ve seen our community evolve and grow over the past 30 years. Meridian is my home; it’s the community of my youth. I want nothing more for Meridian to remain the same safe caring community for my children. We truly are the best place to live in America.

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

Anyone who believes that the main issues pressing our community is anything besides growth hasn’t lived in Meridian for very long. Growth has and will continue to the driving force of Meridian’s challenges. As a result of growth, we have to ensure that Meridian continues to remain a safe community.

Public Safety

There is nothing more important than keeping our families safe. I grew up in Meridian and while I have lived in other communities, I returned to Meridian to raise my family because I know our city is one of the safest in the country.

As a son of a police officer, I also profoundly understand the importance of a well-maintained police force. I believe that these brave men and women put their lives on the line and our city council should prioritize their funding and give them every resource to continue to ensure our community is protected. 

Furthermore, fire departments across the country have shifted over the last decade to be a more responsive, dedicated member of their community. Likewise, in Meridian our fire department does so much more than put out fires; they engage the community through a variety of mechanisms. I believe that our fire department is on par with any department across the country and I want to ensure they along with all emergency responders, have access to the equipment and training they need.

Economic Development

A way to combat growths strain on our road infrastructure to have jobs and retail close to where we live.

Meridian truly is a premier community to live, work, and play. We need to continue to grow and support business in Meridian by further removing burdensome regulations and unnecessary red tape.

Meridian has proven to be extremely attractive to companies large and small, and it is the council’s job to continue that momentum. Meridian is fortunate to play home to many visionary and entrepreneurial minds. We need to make it as easy as possible for the small companies that drive our economy day in and day out to make their home in our community.

Finding ways to bring and attract the companies and industries that provide career wage level positions will continue to be a top priority. I’m proud that the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine will call Meridian home and with it will bring a significant amount of career wage jobs. Meridian has and will continue to be the home of the career wage job, where mom and dad both work only by choice, not obligation.

Transparency and Accountability

Four years ago I published my personal cell phone number (208-695-4536), leading the trend of elected official accountability. As Meridian continues to grow, I believe City Council needs to be available and accessible. I’m proud to respond personally to virtually every email the City Council receives. I believe in being a Meridian citizen first and the type of City Council Member I’d want to elect. As such, I work very hard to make the best possible decision, taking our entire community's need into account.

Alongside transparency, we as a city need to make it easy for citizens to connect and participate in the process. As a father of two children, I can appreciate how challenging it is to wrangle a young family with work and church obligations. It leaves very little time for citizens to participate in the public process. I’m working to make it easier for our citizens to provide live video testimony to the city council from home.

Lastly, I know I don’t have all the answers. Some of the best programs in our community began as a citizen idea. I want to hear from you, hear your ideas. Together we can continue to keep Meridian a great place to live, work and raise a family.

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.

In 2007, Meridian like the rest of the country was in the midst of the great recession. Our growth trend allowed the city to remain in the black and not take on public debt. Neighboring municipalities shed city government staff, reduced city services and accumulated additional debt. As a result of our correctly managed growth, Meridian has world-class parks, the best police and fire department in the country, and sewer and water infrastructure that is second to none.

The challenge is that Meridian isn't the only municipality in the valley to see growth. As the center of the Treasure Valley, Meridian and our adjacent roads and schools are also asked to accommodate the growth of Boise, Nampa, Eagle, Kuna and the entire Treasure Valley.

When I was a child Meridian was less than 7,000 people, today our population is over 100,000. Meridian has been and will continue to be a great community. One that manages the demand, provides community amenities and plans for future development.

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?

I would oppose any application that the school district or highway district indicated they would be unable to support. For clarification, both the highway district and school district have the opportunity to comment on every application that is before the City Council. Should either agency indicate they couldn’t support either the traffic impact or the student impact, I would oppose the application. To date, neither agency has ever indicated an inability to handle and manage the residential impact of an application before the city.

It's important to note that the West Ada School district is the largest in the state and one of the largest in the country, accommodating students from six cities and two counties. The Ada County Highway district is accountable to the largest municipal jurisdiction in the state. We as a region have and will continue to experience record growth. Greater involvement from all three entities (city, school, and highway district) is necessary.

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

When I was first elected, the standard operating procedure was that the City took the 3% property tax increase unless proven otherwise. I’m proud that over the past two years the tide has changed and the City Council is first presented with a budget that takes 0% increase. I oppose unnecessary tax increases and have opposed the 3% increase over the past two years. While the 2019 budget season has yet to begin, based on some very preliminary discussions with City staff, I don’t anticipate it will be necessary for the City to take the 3% increase. It’s not prudent to say unilaterally “I oppose tax increases at any time”. Rather, I believe in a pragmatic, collaborative approach to City’s budget. I’m proud that Meridian’s property tax mill levy is one of the lowest in the region. Our citizens get a great value for their property tax dollars.

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

The thought of owning their own home was one of the driving forces of my parent’s desire to move to Meridian. In the early 1980s, Meridian was the community you live in if you couldn’t afford to live in Boise. Today we have become a community of choice; people want to live in Meridian and enjoy our great community. Ensuring that citizens can afford to live in our amazing community needs to be top of mind for the Meridian City Council.

Meridian is first and foremost a community of families. As such, Meridian needs to offer diverse housing options for families of differing shapes, sizes, and needs. Just like we need more housing options for the family that a home with lots of land, we also need affordable housing options for new families looking to grow their roots in our community. The City’s role is to ensure that diverse housing applications are approved and if warranted, revision and review of city code to reduce regulations that limit diverse growth.

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

Yes. Yes. Yes. And not just Meridian. We must address public transit as a regional need, not just a need for Meridian. The key is attracting public transit riders of choice, not necessity. As the economy improves there is less of a demand for public transit. As single occupancy commuters, we contribute to congestion on our streets, freeways, and roads, negatively impact air quality and diminish our quality of life.

I have an idea to develop a high-speed automated bus commuter corridor adjacent to the regional railway. This idea would provide affordable, cost-efficient commuter transit options that would improve commute times for all citizens. This commuter corridor could be developed at a fraction of the cost of rail, drive economic development for Meridian’s downtown, and provide the initial influx of riders needed to make public transit cost effective. Meridian can’t act alone; it requires collaboration from municipalities from Caldwell to Boise and a willingness from public entities at the local, county and state level contribute financially to the infrastructure creation. The longer we delay a regional collaborative approach to commuter transit the less likely a solution will emerge.

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

The Meridian community has always been responsive the needs of our citizens. As a City Council, we need to continue to be aware of community needs, the demands on our law enforcement, and lastly be prepared to accurately address the City’s role in solving the problem. As a city of over a 100,000 people, Meridian needs to be better prepared to address the growing societal issues a community of our size has and will continue to experience. As a volunteer and former board member of the Meridian Food Bank, I’ve seen firsthand that families across the Valley are often one paycheck away from disaster. Supporting organizations that are equipped to address the need, like the Meridian Food Bank, should remain a priority of the City.

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