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Senator-elect Mitch Toryanksi

"I have not been well served by shooting from the hip."


In the cliche-riddled analysis of campaign 2010, it would be a mistake to include the results from Idaho's District 18 as part of a far-right electoral sweep. As spirited an effort as Democrat Branden Durst waged, the fact remains that voters who supported Democratic Sen. Kate Kelly for three terms thought Republican Mitch Toryanski would be an appropriate successor.

Toryanski told Citydesk that he never would have considered waging a campaign if Kelly had not stepped down.

"I absolutely would not have run against Kate," said the senator-elect. "There's a myriad of things why people vote for a candidate, and likability is a big factor. She had it."

Toryanski laughed and added, "I'm not interested in exercises in futility. If Colin Powell had moved into this district, he would have lost against Kate. She was too popular."

Toryanski said that even though the GOP tent includes far-right fringe elements, he is a "pragmatic Republican."

"There are plenty of people big into theory and philosophy. But I know that it takes resources, personnel, money, time and opportunity to achieve an objective. We don't live in a black-and-white world. I have not been well served by shooting from the hip."

Toryanski may be a freshman legislator when he's sworn into office, but he's not to be underestimated. He's a West Point grad with degrees from American University and the Army War College. He was a small business manager, and he worked in the Ada County Prosecutor and the Idaho Attorney General's offices. Perhaps above all, Toryanski has been in the unique position of writing the law and enforcing the law. He estimated that he wrote an average of 800 briefs each legislative session.

However, Toryanski was the first to say that his new constituents weren't simply going to vote for a resume.

"I knocked on thousands of doors," he said. "I had absolutely no name recognition. And Branden [Durst] was a very active, hard campaigner."

Toryanski's 18th District, covering Southeast and Southwest Boise is rather eclectic.

"There are the big houses by the river, but also pockets of trailer parks. I was campaigning over in the western part of 18 and I saw a young man in his 20s. It looked like he was out on the Palouse. But there he was on a dirt road, leading his horse with one hand, and holding his girlfriend's hand in the other."

Toryanski said his primary challenge in May was probably tougher than the general election. He was one of three candidates, including veteran legislator Dean Sorensen.

"It was a very useful test so I could be stronger for the general. It turned out exactly that way. And the general election wasn't like I was starting over. It was a continuation. You have battles and you have campaigns. The primary was just one battle in a longer campaign."

Military analogies come easy to Toryanski. He's a 30-year Army veteran, 14 of which he has served as a citizen soldier.

But while he's often tagged as a soldier, prosecutor or politician, he considers himself first and last a husband to his wife, Kim, and father of three.

"We went to bed election night long before the votes were ultimately counted," laughed Toryanski. "I got a call about 5 a.m. saying I had won by 103 votes. I had to get up about an hour later to take my 12-year-old, Marshall, to East Junior High."

When Citydesk sat down with Toryanski at a South Boise coffee shop, he said he had to get home to take his 8-year-old daughter, Natalya, to march in the Veterans Day parade with her Girl Scout troop before taking his 10-year-old son, Nicolas, to a guitar lesson. It'll be a tighter squeeze for family time once the legislature convenes in January. He's already scheduling pre-session meetings.

"On Nov. 29 we begin a three-day 'law school for legislators.' It's an orientation for new lawmakers," said Toryanski. He should know. He used to teach part of it.

News from the street

The Capital City Development Corp. is moving ahead with analysis of one-way vs. two-way streets for downtown Boise.

CCDC has engaged with traffic consultant Kittelson and Associates, to work with the Ada County Highway District in determining if it is technically feasible to return some of the streets--specifically 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th streets--to two-way operations.

This week, CCDC Executive Director Phil Kushlan reported to his board that there has been general agreement that 12th and 14th streets would pose no problem. However, said Kushlan, there was concern about broader impacts to the street system with respect to 11th and 13th.

Kushlan said no specific proposal has been developed yet, but his staff has decided to expand the scope to include the possibility of morphing from one-way to two-way for the rest of downtown.

Meanwhile, CCDC moved forward with its plans to introduce "streetscape" projects to the west end of Boise's downtown in 2011.

New sidewalk designs, frontages and urban landscaping are targeted for six separate blocks along Ninth, 10th and Main streets. CCDC authorized Boise-based JensenBelts Associates to move forward with design services and cost estimation for the project. The fiscal year 2011 CCDC budget includes more than $500,000 for the proposed project.

The urban renewal agency is also looking into the possibility of developing a new downtown valet parking ordinance, which, if approved, would allow private businesses to pay for on-street parking spaces from which a valet company could park patrons or event attendees' cars as a convenience.

And finally, as a sure sign of the season, CCDC began putting up holiday lights along the top perimeters of all downtown garages this week. Within days, lights go up on trees in the Grove Plaza and along Boise's Eighth Street. CCDC budgets $8,000 for the annual illumination.