Last night the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce held a mayoral candidate forum.
Caldwell will have a new mayor for the first time in over two decades. The Caldwell Chamber forum is the only mayoral forum/debate to take place for the election.
Of the five candidates listed as running for mayor, three showed up for the forum: Jarom Wagoner, Chris Trakel, and Nicole Hyland.
Another candidate, Jorge Arancivia, was not in attendance, and neither was John McGee.
Approximately one hour before the event began, McGee posted on his campaign Facebook page that he would not be attending the event. McGee posted the following message on Facebook:
In light of recent concerns of a potential conflict of interest with the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce, we feel as a campaign it is best to avoid a potential conflict altogether.
However, we believe the ability to speak to constituents and concerned citizens is an essential piece of public service! We would love to welcome all those who are interested, to participate in our LIVE! Zoom Q&A event next week! Registration link attached below!
In addition to this post, McGee posted a letter he sent to Jerry Summers, the Caldwell Chamber Executive President.
In the letter, McGee tells Summers that a mayoral candidate had made comments about a conflict of interest because the Caldwell Chamber was previously a client of McGee’s. McGee mentions an article in the letter but does not specify what article he is referring to or the other mayoral candidate.
However, Idaho Dispatch is unaware of another news site that ran an article mentioning mayoral candidate Chris Trakel’s comment about the potential conflict of interest. However, we did run an article which you can read here, discussing the issue.
McGee’s letter states that there is no conflict but that he would not attend out of an “abundance of caution,” he would not participate in the event but would instead host his own event to answer questions.
Here is the entire letter that McGee sent to Summers about declining to attend:
As you know, one of the candidates in the Mayoral race has publicly stated that it is a conflict of interest for my campaign to participate in the candidate forum sponsored by the Caldwell Chamber, citing past consulting work that we did for the chamber. I believe you are aware of the article.
As you know, it has been many years since Hanna and I did consulting work for the Caldwell Chamber. Most objective observers would agree that there is not a conflict of interest in this case.
However, in light of these comments, and in the abundance of caution, we think it is important to avoid the appearance of impropriety. As a result, we will not be participating in the forum.
We will, however, provide chamber businesses and members of the public an opportunity to hear my vision for Caldwell’s future and ask direct questions on October 27th. We are appreciative of your efforts to put on this forum, but do not want to be a distraction to the event. We appreciate your understanding.
Idaho Dispatch reached out to Trakel to get his response to McGee’s letter, but we have not yet received a response.
Do you believe that McGee should have declined to attend the forum? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Tags: Caldwell Chamber of Commerce, Chris Trakel, Jarom Wagoner, Jerry Summers, John McGee, Jorge Arancivia, Nicole Hyland