Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas was honored Wednesday for not only his public service but for his commitment to kids.
Nancolas was selected the 2016 Children’s Champion by Idaho Voices for Children. He was the featured speaker during a luncheon at Boise State University attended by State Superintendent Sherri Ybarra, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, legislators and other elected officials, including Beth Oppenheimer, who on Tuesday night was elected to the Boise School District’s Board of Trustees. Also in attendance were area school leaders, including Vallivue School District’s Superintendent Pat Charlton.
Nancolas, who has been elected five consecutive times to serve as Caldwell’s mayor, first thanked his parents, wife and brother for encouraging him to take on a professional life of public service. And then he thanked the youth of Caldwell for “inspiring me” to work hard and be a positive role model.
“Some will say our children are the leaders of tomorrow and I disagree with all my heart,” he said. “They are the leaders of today.”
Nancolas pioneered in Idaho the concept of involving youth in government when he launched the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council in 1999. Some of the high school students who make up the council were at the luncheon and they prepared a video that brought tears to some audience members. The students talked about how Nancolas and the advisory council changed their lives. One student said the mayor convinced her that “my life matters.”
Nancolas also was instrumental in launching Caldwell’s P-16, which provides preschool, after-school and college and career readiness programs. Last year he developed Caldwell Saves 1st, a financial education program for parents and children where they start college savings accounts and learn about financial planning strategies.
Caldwell city employees tutor children and Nancolas said supporting youth, making sure they are safe and educated, is the city’s responsibility.
“He cares about kids,” said Skip Oppenheimer, CEO of Oppenheimer Companies, Inc. and 2014 Children’s Champion. “Not just policy issues but personally, too.”