H. Brent Coles
H. Brent Coles is a former politician and served as mayor of Boise, Idaho, from 1993 to 2003. He ran again for the post in November 2019 and placed fourth out of seven candidates in the general election.
Coles was appointed mayor in January 1993 by the city council when incumbent Dirk Kempthorne was elected to the U.S. Senate. He ran the following November and won the election. He was re-elected in 1997 and 2001. He served as president of the United States Conference of Mayors in 2000 and 2001. He built his reputation for 10 years before destroying it in six months when he and his chief of staff and the city human resources director were caught misusing public funds. In February 2003, he resigned from office and the three pled guilty to corruption charges and went to jail. Coles was sentenced to six months in jail. He was released after five weeks, and later a judge dismissed the felony charges.
Carolyn Terteling-Payne, who succeeded him as mayor, said that “he had his sights set elsewhere for a brief period of time” after he became involved in the U.S. Conference of Mayors. She said that his demise was that he turned a lot over to his chief of staff. The Idaho Statesman also said that he trusted his chief of staff, didn’t think he was doing anything wrong, and was loyal to him.
Much of his staff left town after the scandal, but Coles stayed with his family and found different work to support them. He worked in real estate until 2008, and then worked managing loading docks for a custom cabinet company. He went back to real estate in 2017 when the market was doing well again.
He spoke of his time in office: “As mayor, you begin to become a celebrity, and you begin to believe it,” Coles said. “Going shopping, you would have those who would turn and look,” he said. “When you were mayor, maybe they’d want to come over and talk to you. But it changed from being the celebrity to being the fallen person.” The 16 years that followed were full of struggle that changed him and he developed empathy for those who struggle.
Coles is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He holds an MPA degree from California State University, Long Beach.