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A Fox in the Henhouse

An anti-Semite seeks a seat on the Garden City City Council

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Garden City, like many cities in the Treasure Valley, deals with the effects of rapid growth, with new houses, apartments and condominiums going up; and residents adjusting to inflated rents and costs of living. Lately, it has started setting itself apart as a haven for artists. From artist residencies Surel's Place to the Visual Arts Collective, and no shortage of breweries, wineries and even a skateboarding-themed coffee shop, Garden City is a unique and blossoming community.

So why an anti-Semite who moved to the Treasure Valley from out of state is seeking a seat on the city council bewilders both local leaders and artisans alike.

Patrick Little, a 35-year-old who came to Garden City from California, became known to Idahoans when he staged robo-calls in Sandpoint claiming that "America has a Jewish problem." Little did not return a request for comment, but Boise Weekly's sister paper the Idaho Press reported that Little has a history of such stunts.

In 2018, Little ran against California Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein, receiving 1.2% of the vote. Little also teased a presidential campaign with pamphlets, in which he referred to the Holocaust as a hoax.

Little told Idaho Press he has lived in Garden City since May, and it's unclear if he originally intended to run in Garden City, but Boise City officials confirmed he reached out to them months ago seeking information about running for office in Boise. Then, on Sept. 9, at Garden City City Council, he announced his plan to run.

There are two city council seats open in Garden City, with the incumbents Pam Beaumont and James Page seeking reelection. Aside from Little, Wendy Carver-Herbert and Jeff Stephenson also seek the open seats.

To Beaumont, the sitting city council president, Little's candidacy doesn't make sense. Not only are his views despicable, but she doesn't understand why he chose Garden City.

"In terms of my initial reaction, I was surprised. We weren't aware he was living in Garden City or even who he was," Beaumont said. "I'm adamantly opposed to his positions. I don't think it's acceptable anywhere or by anyone."

When Little filed, Beaumont said she searched him on Google and was surprised by what she found. Beaumont has served on the Garden City City Council since 2005, and she said she has never heard anyone in Garden City espouse such views. To her, the city is an accepting, welcoming place for people of all walks of life, and certainly not a haven for racism. For Beaumont, Little is a "one man show," and doesn't view his candidacy as a hindrance to the progress made in Garden City. He's alone in his corner.

"I don't view it as a setback at all," Beaumont said. "I've never heard anyone else in Garden City say these kind of things."

Mayor John Evans offered a similar sentiment toward Little's candidacy. Evans said anyone is entitled to run for office, so long as he meets the requirements, but that doesn't entitle them to votes, however.

"It's a free country. If he meets the requirements to run, he's entitled to run," Evans said. "I certainly don't expect him [to gain] any significant support in Garden City."

Evans has been an elected official since 1996, and the city he has come to know and love won't give Little the validation he seeks. Evans personally doesn't support his platform at all, and is even a financial supporter of the State of Israel through a non-profit organization, he said.

"Those of us that have been here for decades are very proud of our city and the way it's evolved over time and the care we have for our residents," Evans said.

Local business leaders are equally perplexed. Lucas Erlebach, owner of Push and Pour Coffee, said the Garden City where he does business is diverse and accepting. It's growing and dealing with the pains of that growth, but he and other artisans hope to cultivate a neighborhood.

"In my ideal world it would grow organically over the next decade or so," Erlebach said. "Community isn't something that happens overnight."

He added that gentrification is a natural symptom of growth, but the growth of Garden City isn't necessarily bad.

"I feel like Garden City is one of the most open demographics of cities in the Treasure Valley," Erlebach said.

Given the diversity Erlebach has seen in Garden City, Little's candidacy just doesn't make sense. Every day at Push and Pour he sees a diverse crowd of people who live and work in Garden City, and while it's not a bustling city just yet, it's moving in that direction, with plenty of space for everyone, and doesn't identify with Little's racist views.

"Everyone down here is positive vibes," Erlebach said.

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