Editorials

Idaho Statesman editorial board endorses Lauren McLean for Boise mayor

Lauren McLean has earned our endorsement to be Boise’s next mayor.

McLean has the background and experience necessary to be mayor, and she has demonstrated that she is ready for the position. She has been on the Boise City Council for eight years, the past two as president. She managed the successful campaign to pass the 2001 Foothills levy, for which she has drawn high praise. She holds a master’s degree in public affairs from Boise State University and runs a philanthropy consulting business.

McLean has been criticized during the campaign for “flip-flopping” or changing her position on certain topics.

We don’t see that as a liability, though. We see someone who is able to change her mind on an issue as a person who is able to take new information, feedback and input from others and form a new, more-informed opinion.

In fact, we see that as a fresh alternative to a management style that might be more defensive, recalcitrant and unbending and that sees feedback or a differing opinion as the enemy or a challenge to be defeated.

McLean is correct when she says Boise is at a crossroads and is ready for new leadership, a change from the current administration, which has been in office for 16 years.

Without a doubt, the city of Boise has accomplished some great things under Mayor David Bieter, who entered office at a difficult and painful time following the resignation of then-mayor Brent Coles, who went to jail for misusing public money in a well-publicized scandal. Bieter not only got the city through that period, but helped it thrive in the years that followed.

New parks, new branch libraries, a successful Boise Kind campaign, affordable housing initiatives and open space protection are among the hallmarks of Bieter’s success.

But the winds of change began to blow last year, as the city ventured into bold territory with an ambitious and expensive plan for a new library, and a possible stadium began to sow seeds of contention. Although a proposed streetcar circulator has been quiet for some time, there was a growing feeling that pet projects were being pushed, come hell or high water, and woe be unto anyone who dared question or challenge these proposals.

McLean promises transparency, accountability and working collaboratively with residents and other officials. She vows to end a culture of grudges between the city of Boise and the Ada County Highway District, which would be key to developing a regional plan for transportation and public transit, one of her priorities.

She rightly recognizes the need to stop passing the cost of development on to taxpayers and would continue using impact fees to help pay for growth.

McLean has also identified updating the city’s comprehensive plan as a priority and has rightly supported more affordable, higher-density housing along transportation corridors.

We encourage McLean to recognize some of the issues that have been raised by other candidates in this campaign. In her responses to the Statesman’s candidate survey, she talks about rising property taxes and the burden they place on seniors wanting to stay in their homes and young people looking to buy a house. However, she has been on the City Council as it voted to increase property taxes the maximum allowable 3% each year, as property tax revenues have risen from $113 million to $159 million in five years. If elected, she should make property tax relief and city spending a priority in budget discussions.

Similarly, she has been part of decisions on the main library project every step of the way. We are encouraged that although she stands by her own convictions on the project, she recognizes the pushback from residents and vows as mayor to do a better job of listening to those concerns, rather than fight them. We encourage a more robust community dialogue on the library and the stadium, and we believe McLean is open to that dialogue.

In the end, McLean knows the issues facing the city, is deeply knowledgeable about how the city functions and has expressed an openness to listen to others, forge partnerships across boundaries and move the city forward.

Statesman editorials are the unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Idaho Statesman’s editorial board. Board members Mike Wetherell and Bob Kustra recused themselves from this endorsement.

BEHIND OUR REPORTING

How are editorials written?

Statesman editorials are the unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Idaho Statesman’s editorial board. Members of the editorial board are Statesman publisher Rusty Dodge, opinion editor Scott McIntosh and community members Bob Kustra, Sophie Sestero, Mike Wetherell, Angie Phillips and William Myers. An editorial is a collective opinion based on a group discussion among members of the board members. While the editorial is written by one person, typically the opinion editor, it represents the opinions and viewpoints expressed by members of the editorial board after discussion and research on the topic. The editorial board meets weekly and sometimes invites subjects to board meetings to interview them personally to gain a better understanding of the topic. Editorials are intended to be part of an ongoing civil discussion with the ultimate goal of providing solutions to community problems and making this a better place to live, work and play. Readers are encouraged to express their thoughts by submitting a letter to the editor. Click on “Submit a letter or opinion” at idahostatesman.com/opinion.

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