A baker’s dozen candidates for Lewiston City Council have flooded the zone for the Nov. 2 municipal election, many of them spurred into running by their opposition to public health mandates in the face of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The crowded ballot also has an extra twist this year, with Prop. 1 asking Lewiston voters to mark “yes” to retain the city’s longstanding council-city manager form of government, or “no” to switch to a strong mayor form.

Voters will designate their choices for council on separate sections of the ballot, one for each scenario. They will make four choices under the council-manager form of government, since there will be four vacancies on the seven-member council in this cycle. Mayor Mike Collins and Councilor John Pernsteiner are not seeking reelection, while Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Schroeder and Councilor Bob Blakey are.

If voters go with a switch to the strong mayor form of government, an entirely new six-member council will be seated. Most of the council candidates are running on both ballots, except for Blakey (who is also running for strong mayor and therefore not on the strong mayor council ballot) and Councilor Kevin Kelly (who has two years left on his term and only has to win a seat on the strong mayor ballot to continue serving on the council).

Councilors Cari Miller and John Bradbury will have two years left on their current terms if the council-manager form of government is retained. They will lose their seats if the strong mayor side prevails, however, since they chose not to run on that ballot.

In addition to Blakey, a retired financial adviser, Lewiston machinist Wilson Boots and Lewiston Sen. Dan Johnson are running for the strong mayor position. A story on their candidacies will run in the coming days.

The candidates:

Gabriel Iacoboni

Age: 34.

Office seeking: City Council on both ballots.

Education: Master’s degree in public administration, emphasis in state and local government.

Work experience: Executive director at Willow Center for Grieving Children; chairman, Lewiston Disability Advisory Commission; board chairman, Lewis Clark Valley Adult Resource Center; treasurer, Green Apple Project.

Prior political experience: None.

How long lived in area: Three years.

Family: Married five years.

Are you in favor of a switch to a strong mayor form of government?

Yes.

Do you believe government has the authority to enact public health mandates?

Shouldn’t be used, even if authority exists.

Why are you running for office?

To make a difference in our community. To give people an advocate in their local government. To continue to keep Lewiston vibrant and prosperous. To eliminate red tape and needless regulations to make it easier for residents to call Lewiston home, to name just a few. I believe public service is just that, public service. It is to serve the community one calls home, and I hope to be able to serve this community.

Luke Blount

Office seeking: City Council on both ballots.

Age: Did not answer.

Education: Did not answer.

Work experience: Landscaping since age 10.

Prior political experience: Did not answer.

How long lived in area: Eight years.

Family: Did not answer.

Website: Luke Blount for City Council on Facebook.

Are you in favor of a switch to a strong mayor form of government?

Yes.

Do you believe government has the authority to enact public health mandates?

No.

Why are you running for office?

I have worked in landscaping since I was 10 and really understand the value of hard work. For the last several years I watched the City Council meetings and cannot believe how carelessly they spend our hard-earned dollars, constantly spending more than the city can afford, so they continually raise the taxes. This has to stop. The final straw for me was when the current councilors disregarded the constitution by enacting public health mandates, and I decided I had to take a stand.

Ada Eldridge

Office seeking: City Council on both ballots.

Age: 53.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in health and human services.

Work experience: Retail supervisory positions, 15 years.

Prior political experience: None.

How long lived in area: 20 years.

Family: Married for a year and a half, four grown children.

Website: adaeldridge.com, Ada Eldridge for Lewiston on Facebook.

Are you in favor of a switch to a strong mayor form of government?

Yes.

Do you believe government has the authority to enact public health mandates?

No.

Why are you running for office?

I am running for City Council because I have a passion to unite this town with truth and integrity at all levels. We live in a fantastic community that is being made less whole by some who’ve held power for much too long. I would like to see us be a stronger community in the face of the uncertainties taking place all around us on a state and federal level. I am willing to do whatever it takes to strengthen our city and bring community involvement to the forefront of decision-making.

Susan “Susie” Whitlow

Office seeking: City Council on both ballots.

Age: 63.

Education: Bachelor of Science in business administration with an accounting emphasis.

Work experience: Self-employed bookkeeper, two previous bookkeeping positions.

Prior political experience: None.

How long lived in area: 12 years.

Family: Single, two grown children.

Are you in favor of a switch to a strong mayor form of government?

Yes.

Do you believe government has the authority to enact public health mandates?

No.

Why are you running for office?

I am running for Lewiston City Council to give the citizens a voice that has been silenced for far too long. This past year has shown many of us how much control the current city government has over us, which seems to stem from the city manager position. We have suffered with shutdowns, mask mandates and even a possibility of a “special police” if we, the citizens, did not comply with their orders. The current city government is turning Lewiston into a ghost town and pushing their own agenda onto the citizens. We need to bring in more businesses and reduce taxes.

Brandon Huffaker

Office seeking: City Council on both ballots.

Age: 32.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science.

Work experience: Supervisor of filings at Sunrun Inc., previously with Vivint Solar risk management department (acquired by Sunrun in 2020).

Prior political experience: None.

How long lived in area: 25 years.

Family: Married nine years, five children.

Website: brandon4lewiston on Facebook.

Are you in favor of a switch to a strong mayor form of government?

No.

Do you believe government has the authority to enact public health mandates?

Yes.

Why are you running for office?

I’m running for City Council for the future of Lewiston. Many people are currently caught up in immediate, short-term issues — such as mask mandates. I strongly believe that we need to be looking much further down the road. Where do we want to be in 20 years? For example, by 2040 electric cars are expected to control the automobile market. We need to start plans and make changes now for what is to come with our roads. We cannot rely on the conventional means and funding that brought us to today for street maintenance. We need new ideas.

Hannah Liedkie

Office seeking: City Council on both ballots.

Age: 40.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in physical education.

Work experience: President and CEO of Opportunities Unlimited Inc.

Prior political experience: None.

How long lived in area: 40 years.

Family: Married, one daughter.

Website: liedkielewistoncitycouncil on Facebook.

Are you in favor of a switch to a strong mayor form of government?

No preference.

Do you believe government has the authority to enact public health mandates?

Yes, but should be used cautiously.

Why are you running for office?

I believe I can be an asset to the city. I spend my days navigating the world of business within our city but more importantly advocating for the people I serve. I believe those skills would be useful on a council that needs to advocate for the residents of Lewiston and make decisions that will have long-term effects on our city. My husband and I want our girl to grow up in a city that will grab hold of her heart as it did ours.

Bob Blakey

Office seeking: Mayor on the strong mayor ballot, City Council on the council-manager ballot.

Age: 66.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in adaptive physical education.

Work experience: 29 years at D.A. Davidson.

Prior political experience: Eight years as a Lewiston city councilor.

How long lived in area: 31 years.

Family: Single, two adult children.

Website: Bob Blakey for Re-election to the Lewiston City Council on Facebook.

Are you in favor of a switch to a strong mayor form of government?

No.

Do you believe government has the authority to enact public health mandates?

Yes.

Why are you running for office?

When I first ran for council, I had high expectations for our city. Eight years later, I am proud of my voting record. Among the highlights was the passing of the human rights ordinance, passing water and sewer plant bonds and settling the URA lawsuit. I voted for the mask mandate and continue to believe there is more we can do to protect our citizens. I have supported our police, firefighters and employees to the fullest. Looking forward, maintaining our infrastructure and keeping Lewiston competitive is of the utmost importance. Planning for our future is the foremost job for elected officials, and I plan to be a part of Lewiston’s future.

Kathy Schroeder

Office seeking: City Council on both ballots.

Age: 69.

Education: High school graduate.

Work experience: small-business owner in Lewiston for 25 years.

Prior political experience: Four years Lewiston mayor pro tem and city councilor, five years Lewiston Planning and Zoning Commission.

How long lived in area: 69 years.

Family: Widowed, remarried.

Are you in favor of a switch to a strong mayor form of government?

No.

Do you believe government has the authority to enact public health mandates?

Yes.

Why are you running for office?

I have been and will be a councilor that listens to the needs of our community. As a born and raised valley girl, I’m committed to seeing our community grow and prosper. But that growth must have leadership that has a clear vision of the complexities of city government. I have advocated for upgraded infrastructure, development of our waterfront and actively promoted tourism. My nine years of experience in city government qualifies me to be a part of that leadership to make these things happen. I am asking for four more years to guide the process.

Jim Kleeburg

Office seeking: City Council on both ballots.

Age: 63.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in forest products business management.

Work experience: Construction sales and rentals for 27 years, former small business owner.

Prior political experience: 12 years Lewiston city councilor, including four years as mayor.

How long lived in area: 36 years.

Family: Married, two adult children.

Are you in favor of a switch to a strong mayor form of government?

No.

Do you believe government has the authority to enact public health mandates?

No.

Why are you running for office?

We need to address our stormwater issues with a funding source that doesn’t take from the street department. We need to finish the water and wastewater projects, move forward with the Bryden Avenue widening project, and rebuild 21st Street and Main Street. We should keep the current form of government with a city manager tasked by the council to implement its plans and a council that has equal representation. The council’s job is to implement policy, set the annual budget and deal with local land use planning issues, not to dive in to micromanage departments, personnel, contracts, etc. That’s why the council hires professionals.

Heather Rogers

Office seeking: City Council on both ballots.

Age: 30.

Education: Studying toward a doctorate in business.

Work experience: Owner and founder of local insurance agency, six years in the industry.

Prior political experience: District 1 precinct chair for the Nez Perce County Republicans and other prior party positions.

How long lived in area: 16 years.

Family: Long-term relationship, one child.

Website: voteforheatherrogers on Facebook.

Are you in favor of a switch to a strong mayor form of government?

Yes.

Do you believe government has the authority to enact public health mandates?

Generally no, but depends on the situation.

Why are you running for office?

I believe I will make an excellent City Council member. I listen to both sides of an argument and attempt to remain unbiased until my decision has been made, then I fight for what I believe in. I am a conservative Christian woman that believes that we need to respect everyone regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation or political standings. I believe that a good City Council member needs to encourage the city members to be active in the City Council meetings. We need to have active City Council members who are not just a placeholder.

Kevin Kelly

Office seeking: City Council on the strong mayor ballot (two years left on term if council-manager prevails).

Age: 52.

Education: High school graduate, some college, seven years U.S. Army.

Work experience: Automotive service adviser.

Prior political experience: Two years as Lewiston city councilor.

How long lived in area: 13 years.

Family: Married, two children.

Website: Kelly for Council on Facebook.

Are you in favor of a switch to a strong mayor form of government?

No.

Do you believe government has the authority to enact public health mandates?

Yes, but only when enforceable.

Why are you running for office?

I want to stay on the council because I ran for a four-year term in 2019, and there are certain things I still want to accomplish. COVID-19 got in the way, but we’re still doing our budgets and following the long-term plan for the city. I want to help make this a place our children want to live, so they don’t see the Lewiston hill as an obstacle they have to go over to start a life somewhere else. The council needs to work as a team to make this a better place to live, raise children and do business.

Kassee Forsmann

Office seeking: City Council on both ballots.

Age: 29.

Education: High school graduate, some college.

Work experience: Engineering support specialist, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories.

Prior political experience: None.

How long lived in area: Nine years.

Family: Married nine years, one child.

Are you in favor of a switch to a strong mayor form of government?

Yes.

Do you believe government has the authority to enact public health mandates?

Yes, but should be backed by science and the community.

Why are you running for office?

My job entails attention to detail, constant communication, ownership to admit mistakes, willingness to adapt to any challenge. The beauty and people make this town what it is, a community that stands together and helps when needed. Since getting this urge to serve my community, I have extensively started researching and talking to individuals and business owners about their concerns. I know the responsibilities of being on the City Council. It means you are the voice for the people. The community voting for you means a great deal. The citizens are putting trust that you will stand with them, listen and take action.

Rick Tousley

Age: 68.

Education: Master’s degree in education administration.

Work experience: Retired educator; taught elementary and middle school for 39 years, administrator three years.

Prior political experience: None (unsuccessful legislative candidate in 2018).

How long lived in area: 12 years, in area since 1987.

Family: Married, three adult children.

Website: Tousley for Lewiston City Council on Facebook.

Are you in favor of a switch to a strong mayor form of government?

Undecided.

Do you believe government has the authority to enact public health mandates?

Yes.

Why are you running for office?

We can’t predict all the changes that will come down the pike in the next five, 10 or 20 years, but whatever is decided in November, we must select council members whose focus is on the health, safety and culture of Lewiston. This election is about who we trust to determine the future of our city. I want you to know, I don’t have a bone to pick, an ax to grind or a hobby horse to ride. But I believe I can contribute to my city — to our city — by advocating for an efficient, intelligent and compassionate city government.

Mills may be contacted at jmills@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2266.