Tom Dale says he'd be a stronger leader
NAMPA -- If thereís one thing Tom Dale learned growing up on a cattle ranch in Washington, it was this: When something needs to get done, you do it. You donít form a committee, you donít caucus.
And itís that direct approach that Dale wants to apply to the position of Nampa mayor.
As councilman for the past six years, Dale says heís been frustrated with what he believes to be an attitude that Nampa canít do something because itís never done something before.
Nampa is growing and -- although Dale doesnít want to sober Nampaís small-town spirit -- he says he wants to ensure that governmental decisions grow as well.
"Most of the means of operation still go back to when the town was 25,000," he said. "We need to stop thinking like we are a small, little town on the edge of the desert and start thinking like we are the second biggest city in the state."
His priorities: Jump-starting a study to figure out how the city can raise money from impact fees on developers, wants a transportation plan for the city in place, and wants to work harder to address gang activity.
Getting things done
Dale has focused his campaign on a message that heíll be a stronger leader than Maxine Horn, who defeated him and other candidates for her current four-year term.
He says the city has been too slow to make changes like implementing impact fees and hasnít done enough long-term planning. But he served on the same City Council that oversees those actions. He blames Horn, a charge she denies.
Even Dale notes that he and the mayor are often on the same side when the council is divided on an issue.
Councilman Stephen Kren, the only elected city official not running for an office this year, says while Dale has made it clear he wants to "take things in a different direction," Kren is not sure if Daleís campaign has caught on.
But he says Daleís attempt to run against the status quo while sitting as a council member could be an advantage or disadvantage.
"It will cut one way or the other with voters," Kren said.
Dale supporter and well-known Nampan Lynn McConnell says support is growing for the challenger, largely because of a desire for new ideas to deal with growth-related challenges.
McConnell added that Dale also has a track record of involvement in the community. "One thing about Tom Dale, heís willing to get involved with community activities like Clean Sweep," in which volunteers clean up properties for elderly and disabled people.
A diverse repertoire
Since moving to Nampa in 1968, Dale has become a suitor of sorts to the small-town charm and statewide beauty that is the identifying birthmark of the area. And his ability and drive donít stop with vying for city council and mayoral seats.
Nor does it stop with motorcycles.
When Dale turned 50 earlier this year, he revved up his motorcycle, a 501 Husaberg, zipped through the Owyhee desert and checked an item off his personal agenda -- a motorcycle race. In the first competition, he took third place out of three people. In the second race, he took third place out of six or eight folks.
"Third seems to be a good place," he laughed, "but, hopefully, not in the elections."
He wasnít in it to win it at 60 miles per hour, he said, he was in it to finish. The mayoral race, however, is different -- he wants to finish the victor among the threesome who want to be mayor on Nov. 6.
When he isnít enjoying the Owyhee desert via motorcycle, he is enjoying it via airplane. Heís a private pilot so he uses that license to go into the Owyhee backcountry for fishing and camping.
In town, however, is where Dale finds his ultimate passions: music and children.
Dale is a trombone player and plays with the swing group, High Street. He has played "the instrument," as he puts it, "since before I was born."
"I think my mother had some uncomfortable moments," he joked.
This music appreciation transcended into his educational career -- in 1976 he received his bachelorís degree in music education from Northwest Nazarene College and in 1980 he received his masterís in music education from North Texas State University.
Now he teaches music at Nampa Christian High School and Nampa Charter School. He qualifies this part of his life as his prepping for what could be his mayoral candidacy.
Leaving the children, he said, is what he struggled with the most when he was deciding to run for Nampa mayor.
"How is this going to affect my students at school? I still struggle with that. Those kids are very dear to me."
A transition if elected
But with encouragement from his constituents, he decided to seize the opportunity.
"Every major job, every full-time job Iíve had has been one of service to kids, one of service to people."
Dale said he tries to teach his kids that "fun will come through hard work."
This is his creed for success in the classroom and in his own life.
It is through teaching that he characterizes his own lifeís work, and it is through teaching that he learns what is important to be Nampaís mayor.
Itís plain, simple, maybe even elementary. He believes his greatest qualities are good, old-fashioned listening skills. It is listening, he said, that is critical and absolutely mandatory in a city management position.
By listening to people, he said, relationships not only are made, but developed, maintained and groomed. And these relationships are designed so the community can have their voice heard by the mayor, and also so they can participate and partner to ensure that Nampa becomes the city it is meant to be.
Mike Gray of the North Nampa Residents Association, says Horn has also shown she can build partnerships. But he says Dale and Horn have different ways of communicating.
"Tom is more political. Maxine is more willing to say what she thinks," Gray explained. "This could be an advantage or disadvantage either way.
Dick Claiborne, who spent 16 years on the city council and ran unsuccessfully for mayor four years ago, says Dale faces a tougher time this year than he did four years ago. Thatís because the majorís seat was open after Winston Goering retired. Goering endorsed Horn, however.
This time, Horn is an incumbent and still has Goeringís support.
"There are no big issues out there," says Claiborne, "so incumbents have to defeat themselves."
Itís an outcome he thinks is unlikely.
But Horn supporter B. Edgar Johnson, a community leader and advocate for projects to help youth, said one aspect of Hornís strong tenure as mayor could give Dale an advantage.
"There may be people who are thinking, ĎMayor Horn has done a good job so maybe we donít need to vote.í This is what weíre trying to prevent."
Searching for issues
One issue Dale has mentioned as a problem in Hornís administration stems from this summerís attempt by some city employees to form a union.
"The only reason that a union wanted to organize is that (city employees) thought they were not being treated fairly," Dale said recently.
Horn worked to resolve the issue, and eventually sidetracked the union effort.
But Dale said the situation showed a need for better leadership in City Hall. And he says getting the word out about his ideas for the cityís top post will bring him victory.
"I love people. I love working with people. I just love putting people together to solve problems," he said. "I donít have all the answers. Iíve never professed to have all the answers. Iím just an ordinary guy who has extraordinary dreams."
-- Lane Bettencourt and David Woolsey contributed to this story.
Reprinted by permission of Idaho Press Tribune Note: article retyped in HTML for better readability.
Nov 1, 2001 - Page 11a