If she’s elected as Boise’s next mayor, Judy Peavey-Derr says she’ll focus more of City Hall’s attention on outlying neighborhoods, especially recently annexed areas on the city’s south and west sides.
“They, in my humble opinion, deserve some consideration for bike paths and conservation areas,” Peavey-Derr said Friday. “We’ve somewhat neglected them as a group in Boise.”
Peavey-Derr filed her declaration of candidacy Sept. 4 with 34 minutes left in Boise’s two-week candidate filing period. She is the most experienced challenger in Boise elections this year and perhaps the most significant challenger Mayor David Bieter has faced since he first won the office in 2003.
Four years ago, Bieter defeated David Hall by a nearly 3-to-1 margin. In 2007, he easily dispatched then-City Councilman Jim Tibbs, whom Bieter had passed over three years earlier for the job of Boise police chief.
Peavey-Derr’s resume includes two four-year stints as an Ada County commissioner, four years on the Ada County Highway District and the last four years on the Greater Boise Auditorium District. She’s also served on a host of boards for charities and other community organizations.
“I have a lot of experience, and I think it can be of value to Boise,” Peavey-Derr said Friday morning. “But, secondly, I think it’s time for a woman to be in that position.”
Peavey-Derr, a Republican, has occasionally sparred with Bieter, who’s a Democrat. On Friday, though, she said the three-term incumbent “has done some fine things.” She praised Bieter for championing the construction of four library branches around town, as well as his recent cooperation with the GBAD board on an expansion of the convention venue Boise Centre.
“I very much appreciate that as an elected official,” she said. “So I won’t be throwing mud in his face on that one.”
Gary Moncrief, a professor emeritus at Boise State University, downplayed the importance of party affiliation in this race.
“Even though the more attentive people know the partisan backgrounds of the mayor and the challenger, many people do not pay attention,” Moncrief said in an email.
Boise mayor is a nonpartisan position. Because Bieter’s the incumbent, Moncrief said, he has the advantage in name recognition and campaign funding potential.
Incumbents in nonpartisan elections “usually only lose if there is a scandal or major issue on which they are on the wrong side of public opinion,” Moncrief said. “As far as I can tell, neither of those conditions apply in this instance. On the other hand, the challenger in this instance has a lot of political experience and contacts, unlike most challengers.”
To win, Peavey-Derr “will have to develop a credible reason why the city should change course and she will have to have the funding to convey that message,” Moncrief said.
Two other candidates have filed to run for mayor. Seth Holden is a student at Boise State University who likes the job Bieter has done but thinks it’s time for someone new to sit in the mayor’s chair. Efforts to contact candidate Myron Gilbert were unsuccessful.
“We’re taking all three of the folks that have filed very seriously,” said Maria Weeg, Bieter’s campaign manager. “ But our plan really hasn’t changed much. We’ve always planned on going out and talking to the voters of Boise, talking about all the great things we’ve accomplished in the past 12 years and the vision for the future. ... Honestly, (Peavey-Derr’s) entry in the race does not change that.”
Peavey-Derr said she’s been considering a run at mayor for years, ever since husband Allen Derr, who died in June 2013, encouraged her to do it.
She admitted time is short to mount a serious campaign. She said she’s already building an advertising campaign and soon will start putting out yard signs and releasing radio announcements.
Will it be enough?
“Bieter has a well-organized machine and we all recognize it,” Peavey-Derr said. “And that’s to his credit, you know? Good for him.”
But she thinks Boise voters respond to a strong challenger. Weak voter turnout in 2011 demonstrates their apathy in that election, she said.
“People were disheartened in light of the fact that there wasn’t a choice. And so I would say to them, ‘Here you go, folks, you have a choice now.’ Someone with experience. Someone who’s committed to the community as evidenced by the activities and things I’ve done over the years, and I stand ready to serve.”
Weeg said she doesn’t expect the campaign of either Bieter or Peavey-Derr to get nasty.
“We don’t feel like there’s any reason to go on the attack,” she said. “The mayor’s got a really good record to be proud of. Boise has grown incredibly under his leadership. It is one of the best, most livable cities in the country, potentially one of the most livable cities in the world. That’s a record to be proud of. There’s no reason to be on the attack.”
Peavey-Derr said she hasn’t made up her mind yet, but she’s leaning toward leaving her post at the auditorium district if she beats Bieter. She pointed out, however, that fellow district director Hy Kloc and City Council President Maryanne Jordan serve in the state Legislature.