Runoff Election Results 2019: McLean Wins Boise Mayor Race; McGee Takes Caldwell City Council Seat

Dec 3, 2019

Update — 1:16 a.m.

In the first Boise mayoral runoff in half a century, 16-year incumbent Dave Bieter lost to City Council President Lauren McLean. She's the first woman elected to the position.

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A few hundred people gathered at her party at the Lounge At The End Of The Universe Tuesday night, packing a venue surrounded by art and music from a live band. McLean's lead in the general election had many supporters optimistic. And after she ran outside to get a phone call around 9:50 p.m., many suspected it was Bieter conceding and she had won. And — they were right.

McLean is excited and hopeful, and a little daunted.

"If I wasn't nervous, then something would be wrong with me, right?" McLean laughed. "But as Cic Andrus used to say, and somebody else has often told me, if you aren't scared, you aren't livin'. And you're not doing enough. So of course, there's so much to be done."

Incumbent mayor Bieter supported ticketing homeless people sleeping in public, calling it a tool to prevent homeless camps, which can be dangerous. Six homeless or formerly homeless residents took the city to court over that, calling it cruel and unusual punishment. They city lost in the 9th Circuit Court and is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

McLean was critical of the city's stance, saying efforts and money could be better spent preventing homelessness and housing people. And she won 65% of the vote.

"Lets dream together and I know that we can do what needs to be done to address housing, transit and quality of life as we grow," she said.

Today, McLean is headed to a gathering for mayors elect in Boston along with the mayor-elect for Meridian. She'll take office in just a few weeks on Jan. 7.

Update — 12:15 a.m.

It's the end of an era in Boise — after 16 years in office, Mayor Dave Bieter lost his reelection by more than 30 points.

Credit Tess Goodwin / Boise State Public Radio

Bieter was in office for four terms, becoming Boise's longest-serving mayor. He took the reins in 2003 amid a corruption scandal that sent former mayor Brent Coles to jail.

Last night, Bieter failed to win a single precinct against City Council President Lauren McClean, who won more than 65% of the vote.

"To get up every day and try to make this a better city is just the greatest thing I could ever have and to do it this long, I'm eternally grateful to the citizens of Boise for doing that," said the outgoing mayor as the results came in.

During his tenure, Bieter oversaw rapid growth in the city and an increasingly vibrant downtown. He also successfully fought to preserve open space in the Boise foothills.

But he struggled to gain support for two of his big proposals — a library and sports stadium. And a long-planned streetcar serving downtown never got off the ground.

But at his election night gathering, supporters like Rocci Johnson praised Bieter's legacy.

"We are such a great city to be in and there's a reason," she said. "There's 16 years of a legacy there that shows he's been doing some things right."

Bieter said he'll take some time off before deciding what he'll do next.

McLean will be sworn in Jan. 7.

Update — 10:50 p.m.

With 100% of precincts reporting, the city of Boise has elected a new mayor for the first time in 16 years. Lauren McLean received 65.5% of votes, while Dave Bieter received 34.5%.

Celebratory champagne at the Lauren McLean watch party after Dave Bieter's concession phone call.
Credit Molly Wampler / Boise State Public Radio

Update — 9:50 p.m. 

With 72 of 88 precincts reporting, incumbent mayor Dave Bieter called Lauren McLean "to say congratulations," McLean announced in a victory speech at her watch party tonight.

Update — 9:18 p.m.

With almost 40% of precincts reporting, Lauren McLean leads Dave Bieter by 34 points. As the results continue to roll in, the mood at Bieter's party has sobered since the start.

Dave Terrell is president of the Southern Idaho Region for Washington Trust Bank and a Bieter supporter. He gave a speech about Dave Bieter's legacy in office.

"He lived this job as a city he grew up in, a city he loved, and treated this city so incredibly well and we were the luckiest people in the world to have Dave as our mayor."

Rocci Johnson, also a Bieter supporter, spoke to the work Bieter has done in his 16 years at the helm.

"When Mayor Bieter came on board, this town was not in good shape," Johnson said. "There was corruption at city hall, there were people who were convicted and went to jail, the Boise police department was not doing well either, and all that got cleaned up once Dave got into office."

Update — 9:14 p.m.

With 100% of precincts reporting in Caldwell, the unofficial results show John McGee beating out Evangeline Beechler for city council seat 6. Voter turnout for this runoff race was 17.4%, with a total of 3,419 ballots cast.

Update — 8:55 p.m.

Dave Bieter addressed a crowd of reporters shortly after the first round of results came in:

Meanwhile at Lauren McLean's party, there was a buzz of optimism around the room. McLean herself seemed optimistic.

Reporter Madelyn Beck interviews Lauren McLean as the first round of results roll in.
Credit Molly Wampler / Boise State Public Radio

"It just feels really good to be surrounded by people that have worked so hard for the future of our city," she said.

When describing the campaign effort of the past month, McLean likened it to the work she and her supporters have been doing for months.

"This last push has looked like the last push four weeks ago, to be honest," she said. "And this whole campaign is about meeting people where they're at — in coffee shops, at their doors — and having a conversation about the future of our community."

Amber Bieg is a campaign worker for McLean and echoed her positivity.

"I'm very optimistic. After knocking on doors for a few months now, I would say 90% of the people I've spoken with support Lauren," she said.

Update — 8:47 p.m.

In the race for Caldwell City Council seat 6, early numbers show a lead for former Idaho State Senator John McGee, with 60% of votes so far in his favor. State Party Chair of Idaho Democratic Party Evangeline Beechler sits at 40%.

Update — 8:44 p.m.

The earliest results in the runoff race for Boise mayor report 9.7% turnout for early voting, of which McLean took 70%, Bieter 30%.

Update — 7:55 p.m.

Our reporters are live in the field for the Boise mayoral runoff, posted up at each candidate's respective watch party.

Reporter Heath Druzin interviews incumbent mayor Dave Bieter at the Local 149 Union Hall, a firefighters' union, where he is posted up to watch the results come in.
Credit Tess Goodwin / Boise State Public Radio

Prior to the polls closing, reporter Heath Druzin spoke with incumbent mayor Dave Bieter about how he feels heading into results.

Bieter cited good effort and solid fundraising as reasons for optimism tonight. As for his matchup with opponent Lauren McLean:

"I think I really debated well and then she wouldn't debate again," Bieter said. "So that's a pretty good indication that the first debate went well. I think we've been on the offense. I think they've been on defense. And I think, you know, the issues have clarified. The distinctions between us have as well."

When comparing the November election to this runoff election, Bieter said the runoff is nothing at all like the previous race.

"I recognize that the next day I started getting calls from people who were not necessarily aligned with me in the first round, 'Well, what can we do to help? How can we help you do this?' So it changed in a day," he said. "You know, whether whatever that means in the runoff, it's it's who shows up and and how they vote."

"Bieter For Boise" swag at the Bieter watch party for the Boise mayoral runoff election.
Credit Tess Goodwin / Boise State Public Radio

Despite the positive outlook on his campaining this past month, Bieter was hesitant to make any predictions.

"I think if anybody says they know what's going to happen, they're lying because nobody knows what's going to happen. I don't know. And they don't know and nobody does."

Supporters are starting to file in at McLean's watch party, hosted tonight at The Lounge, a retro venue inside the Gem Center for the Arts.
Credit Madelyn Beck / Boise State Public Radio

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Boise State Public Radio is bringing you the latest updates on the 2019 runoff elections in Boise and Caldwell.

We'll be updating this post throughout the night with check-ins from our reporters in the field and results when they are available. Samantha Wright will live in studio with Jeffrey Lyons, an assistant professor with the School of Public Service at Boise State, for real-time analysis. Coverage begins at 8 p.m. on Boise State Public Radio News (91.5 FM).

Boise's November mayoral race saw no one candidate win more than the required 50% vote. Today, incumbent mayor Dave Bieter and City Council president Lauren McLean will face each other again.

In the November election, McLean won 46% of votes and Bieter pulled in 30%.

Caldwell's election is for City Council seat 6, a runoff between former Idaho State Senator John McGee and State Party Chair of Idaho Democratic Party Evangeline Beechler.

McGee resigned from the Idaho senate in 2012 after a sexual harassment accusation and served 39 days in jail for violating probabtion associsted with the harassment case.

Last month, McGee received 39% of the votes, while Beechler followed with 31%.

All polls in Boise and Caldwell close at 8 p.m.

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