From a distance, it might appear as though a political career was launched Tuesday in the Greater Boise Auditorium District election.
But wait: The top vote-getter, Kristin Muchow, says this wasn’t about politics — rather an opportunity for public service to her community. And, it was about answering the challenge posed by a number of women who joined her team and encouraged her at every juncture and moment of doubt.
“I don’t perceive myself as being political at all,” said Muchow, general manager of Meeting Systems Inc., which helps companies find venues to hold conventions and other events.
“It’s been a lot of women, women mentors, women volunteers — all working together to show what women can do. All of these women stepped forward to get behind one of their own.”
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The election was a typically low-key and low-turnout affair, with only 5.4 percent of registered voters participating.
Muchow outperformed another newcomer, Scott Mecham, and two veteran incumbents: Hy Kloc and Judy Peavey-Derr. Muchow’s 40 percent of the vote and Kloc’s 38 percent earned them both six-year terms as GBAD directors.
They will join three GBAD colleagues in guiding the new Boise Centre operation, managing the considerable revenue generated from a 5 percent room tax on hotels –– and weighing in on whether and how deeply to get involved in a proposed downtown Boise multi-use stadium project.
Make no mistake, Muchow campaigned hard, long and with every bit of energy she had. She navigated through the arduous and often uncomfortable political and fundraising process because she truly wanted to serve, she said.
She successfully communicated to voters that her background and vision for an even better Boise were preferable to the good work of Peavey-Derr over the last six years. And like Peavey-Derr, she’ll be the only woman among the otherwise all-male directors.
Her “mentors” include people such as Holli Woodings, a former Idaho state representative and candidate for secretary of state; Sen. Maryanne Jordan, D-Boise and member of the Boise City Council; Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise; and Boise City Council members Elaine Clegg and Lauren McLean.
It’s no surprise or accident all these women are Democrats. But Muchow won a nonpartisan election and intends to retain her independent status for now.
Beginning in June, she’ll get to dive in and devote countless hours to earn a whopping $60 a year for her service. She’s convinced me that her true reward will be the opportunity to give back.
Where she comes from tells me a lot about where she’s likely headed. Her parents decided the crazy, busy life in Los Angeles, Calif., was not what they wanted for themselves or their children years ago. So, her father went searching for a place to farm throughout the Northwest and settled on Gooding, Idaho. That’s where Kristin grew up, learning about chores and the charms of small-town life.
“It was picking rocks and pulling weeds,” mixed in with the Honor Society, becoming a cheerleader and being elected Gooding High School senior class president, she said. “A place like Gooding presents lots of opportunity.
“This was a little different than campaigning for class president. I’m an introvert. Campaigning was a lot of work. . .. All of it was so new to me. Making phone calls, knocking on doors, attending coffees. But I do everything at 110 percent.”
When there were down moments — setbacks, nasty emails from critics and such — her female mentors would pick her up and convince her that tomorrow would be a better day. When she had to make fundraising calls, she remembered how Woodings framed the task: “Think of yourself as an investment.”
The voters have done just that, and now I’m willing to bet Kristin Muchow is going to give them their money’s worth.