Mayor David Bieter, Lauren McLean to face off in Boise mayoral runoff

Correction: This mayoral runoff is not the city’s first. The Statesman has written a story looking at past runoffs.

matter what happened Tuesday, Boise voters would have made history.

They could have brought back their incumbent mayor for an unprecedented fifth term or elected a woman to the role for the first time. They could have chosen a former mayor to return to office after 16 years.

What they did, however, was force the city’s first mayoral runoff election in recent history — between incumbent David Bieter, 60, and City Council President Lauren McLean, 45.

McLean took an early lead and maintained it all night. With all precincts counted, she claimed 45.7% of the votes to Bieter’s 30.3%. Ada County Highway District Commission President Rebecca Arnold claimed 13.1%, while former mayor Brent Coles took 7.3%.

Because no candidate won a majority, Boiseans will be asked to vote a second time for Bieter or McLean on Dec. 3 at an estimated cost to the city of $100,000.

“We feel good going into the runoff,” McLean said from her campaign party around 11 p.m.

Boise Mayor David Bieter gets some help from his daughter, Josie Bieter, 14, to find election results Tuesday. Friends and supporters gathered at the Basque Center in Downtown Boise for an election night party. Darin Oswald doswald@idahostatesman.com

In an email sent to voters early Wednesday, McLean asked for support in the Dec. 3 runoff. “Thanks to so many of you, we had a truly remarkable night. And the people of Boise sent a clear message: they are ready for a new style of leadership at the top, and they want to feel heard by their elected officials,” she wrote.

McLean thanked voters, writing, “I am moved, I am humbled, I am ready to continue talking about Boise’s future with every one of you.”

Bieter’s campaign issued a statement Wednesday afternoon.

“The results from last night’s election made one thing clear — the people of Boise need more time and a robust dialogue to determine who their next mayor is,” Bieter said through his official campaign. “It’s not a surprising result in a field of seven candidates — in fact, I welcome the opportunity to distinguish myself even more with my main competitor, Council member McLean.

“Over the next four weeks, we will work even harder to bring this election to more Boiseans so they can determine who they trust with the future of our city.”

The race was punctuated by concerns about the city’s priorities. Arnold and Coles continually criticized rising taxes for homeowners in the city, while Bieter emphasized how far the city had come during his tenure, including on parks and public safety.

McLean, a Bieter ally until she decided to challenge him, did not stray from the mayor on many issues but presented herself as a more approachable, more transparent version of Bieter.

Bieter took swipes at his opponents’ records on multiple occasions, often with them returning fire. That didn’t hurt him with donors: He outraised any other candidate in the city. McLean nearly matched him, while Arnold and Coles were a distant third and fourth, respectively.

Three other candidates, Adriel Martinez, Cortney Nielsen and Wayne Richey, made the ballot after meeting the filing requirement: just five signatures or a $40 filing fee.

Lauren McLean, talks to volunteers and supporters about the likely runoff election during an election returns watch party at her campaign headquarters. Otto Kitsinger For the Idaho Statesman

Boise City Council results

Eleven candidates sought three City Council seats. Newcomers Patrick Bageant and Jimmy Hallyburton and incumbent Elaine Clegg won the seats.

Six candidates vied for Seat 1, which McLean left open in her bid for mayor. Bageant ran to promote transparency in the government, while Karen Danley, a former teacher, proposed having districts for City Council seats. Tecle Gebremicheal, an Ethiopian immigrant, said he wanted to promote a better Boise for all new Americans. Ryan Peck aimed to make Boise more friendly for young people, particularly those under 18. Brittney Scigliano spoke often about her experience as a former neighborhood association president, while Chris Moeness, a real estate agent, spoke often about how to improve housing.

With all 88 precincts counted, Bageant had 28.9% of the vote with Peck coming in second with 19.3%.

Two candidates sought Seat 3, being vacated by Scot Ludwig, who decided not to run again. Hallyburton, founder of the Boise Bike Project, spoke often about improving transportation. Planning and Zoning Commissioner Meredith Stead said her experience would benefit the city as it tries to adjust to growth. Hallyburton got 51.7% of votes to Stead’s 48.3%.

Lauren McLean (in green) poses for a photo during an election returns watch party at Das Alpenhaus and her campaign headquarters. Otto Kitsinger For the Idaho Statesman

Four-term incumbent Council President Pro Tem Elaine Clegg faced two political newcomers for her Seat 5: 26-year-old Brady Fuller, who said he wanted to increase transparency, and Debbie Lombard-Bloom, 53, who said she wanted to rein in spending.

Clegg won handily. She got 49.5% of the vote, almost twice that of Lombard-Bloom, who had 24.8%, and Fuller, who had 25.7%.

In the races for Boise City Council, candidates need a plurality of votes, not a majority.

Candidates who win their elections will be inaugurated in January. Newly elected members of the council will join current council members Lisa Sánchez, TJ Thomson and Holli Woodings.

Supporters of Mayor David Bieter gather for an election night party at the Basque Center downtown. Darin Oswald doswald@idahostatesman.com

Meanwhile, the Ada County Clerk’s Office is preparing to administer the runoff. It plans to mail absentee ballots automatically to people who voted absentee in Tuesday’s election, and to use most or all of the same polling places.

“We’re definitely gearing up,” County Clerk Phil McGrane told the Statesman before Tuesday’s election.

This story has been revised. Officials

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Hayley covers local government for the Idaho Statesman with a primary focus on Boise. Previously, she worked for the Salisbury Daily Times, the Hartford Courant, the Denver Post and McClatchy’s D.C. bureau. Hayley graduated from Ohio University with degrees in journalism and political science.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.