The city of Lewiston voted to change to a “Mayor-Council” form of government last week.
Current State Senator Dan Johnson (R-Lewiston) will serve as the mayor after winning the most votes between three candidates. Johnson has announced that he will serve out the remainder of his legislative term and not run for office again as a legislator. Wilson Boots came in second place while Bob Blakey took third place.
Lewiston was one of only a handful of cities with a “Council-Manager” form of government. This form of government means that citizens elect a city council who then chooses to have a manager over the city.
Last Tuesday, citizens in Lewiston were presented with Proposition One to determine if they wanted to keep the council-manager form they have had for many years. A “Yes” vote meant that citizens wanted to keep the council-manager form of government, and a “No” vote meant they wanted a council-mayor form of government.
Then, citizens had to vote on who their entire city council would be if they voted for the mayor-council form of government. If they decided to keep their council-manager form of government, they had to vote on who the city council members would be that were up for re-election.
When all the votes were cast, 4,295 voted for the mayor-council form of government while 3,650 voters retained the current form of government in Lewiston.
The issue brought out several groups who fought for and against the proposal. Lewiston SMART was the primary organization pushing for the mayor-council form of government, while KEEP Lewiston was the primary group fighting to retain the council-manager form of government.
The local newspaper in Lewiston, the Lewiston Tribune, got involved in the race by donating to the effort to keep the local form of government.
The Nez Perce County Prosecutor also announced citations against several city employees last week. The prosecutor’s office says the employees allegedly violated state law by using city resources to try and help the KEEP Lewiston campaign. There are also allegations that city employees were soliciting co-workers for donations to the KEEP Lewiston campaign during office hours.
Current City Councilmember John Pernsteiner chaired the KEEP Lewiston campaign.
Idaho Dispatch asked the Lewiston SMART Chairman, Joe Gish, about the allegation. Here is what Gish told Idaho Dispatch,
Lewiston SMART Chairman Joseph Gish gave Idaho Dispatch the following statement, before the election, about the citations issues by the Nez Perce County Prosecutor’s office.
These citations were issued as a result of a complaint Maureen Anderson (the Lewiston SMART treasurer) and I filed with the Nez Perce County Prosecutor’s office. We appreciate how thorough the Nez Perce County Prosecutor’s office has been conducting their investigation into our complaint, and how well their investigator is keeping us informed as to the progress of their investigation. We have requested the City Clerk, who illegally used city resources to campaign for Keep Lewiston, be removed as the City’s election official for the remainder of this election. To date this request has been ignored by the Lewiston City Manager and Lewiston City Council. Perhaps these two citations will convince these city officials just how serious a violation of the public trust the City of Lewiston attempting to influence an election really is, especially when changing the city’s form of government is on the ballot. Beyond the City Manager’s press release saying this will be handled as a personnel issue, he and the City Council have been silent on this scandal. The voters of Lewiston deserve better.
One of the employees, City Clerk Kari Ravencroft, admitted in a statement through the City of Lewiston that she did use city property to print papers to distribute at the Nez Perce County Fair. Here is the statement Ravencroft issued:
Prior to the Nez Perce County Fair, I made copies of the documents on a City copy machine for the purpose of distribution at the fair. This action was not requested by any member of KEEP Lewiston, nor by any employee or elected official of the City. These copies have been paid for, but City Policy clearly states that I should not have City equipment. I am truly sorry to the groups on both sides of Proposition One, and the City of Lewiston. My actions have compounded an already extremely stressful time, and I want to express my deepest apology to all.
Lewiston’s news form of government should take place sometime in January 2022.
Tags: Joe Gish, Kari Ravencroft, Keep Lewiston, Lewiston, Lewiston SMART, Nez Perce County Prosecution