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Politics & Government

Bieter, McLean Go Head To Head In First Boise Mayoral Runoff Debate

Hayley Harding
Idaho Statesman

Incumbent Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and City Council President Lauren McLean didn’t pull any punches at the first candidate forum held since a runoff became official last week.

Bieter painted his former ally, McLean, as an inexperienced candidate who would be too wishy-washy to make tough decisions at the forum co-hosted by the City Club of Boise and the League of Women Voters of Idaho.

Earlier this week, Bieter called for a reset for the proposed new library that had been shelved due to escalating cost estimates. He says the people who overwhelmingly approved a proposition to require a future vote on any new library costing more than $25 million have spoken.

“[The public wants] in on this project. Now you’re engaged, you weren’t before. We’ll reengage you and we’ll get it right,” Bieter said.

McLean supported the new library during her time on city council. But she said she’d respect the will of the voters.

Since McLean was first appointed to city council in 2011 by Bieter, one question that surfaced during the forum questioned her loyalty to him.

She said she filed to run because she thought it was the best decision for Boise.

“That’s what this is about. [It’s] not about pledging allegiance or loyalty to one person, but pledging my love to this city that has created a home and given my family a life,” she said.

Bieter’s longevity in office also came into question.

After McLean pledged to not serve more than three terms if elected, Bieter asked why his 16 years in office was a bad thing.

“Do you tell your accountant, ‘You know, you’re just too experienced for me. I want a new accountant. I want somebody that hasn’t done anything,” he said.

The two also jabbed at each other over how the city should handle its homeless situation.

McLean says the city should drop its Supreme Court appeal over its camping ordinance and instead figure out how to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place.

“Saying we have to have this tool to put people in jail, write tickets, diminishes the good work of people in this community that are working day by day to prevent evictions that increase homelessness.”

But Bieter predicts Boise could become a camping haven like Portland or Seattle if cops can’t ticket the homeless as a last resort.

“This is a fragile situation, folks,” he said. “It could turn on a dime.”

Election Day for the runoff is Dec. 3.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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