Boise City Hall by Don Day

Boise City Hall

With a whopping seven candidates on the ballot for mayor of Boise, there’s been lots of talk that there could be a run-off, which occurs when no candidate gets a majority – 50% plus one – of the vote. If that were to happen, the two top vote-getters would face off in a run-off election within the next 30 days. Reporter Don Day of offers some interesting history on this process in Boise: There’s only been one other runoff in recent city history, he reports, and it was for a council seat, rather than for mayor. 

At that time, recently enacted city ordinances called for runoffs in those races as well, and in 2003, a five-way race for a council seat saw no candidate top the 50% mark. Both incumbent Paula Forney and challenger David Eberle got around 35% of the vote, though Eberle edged Forney by about half a percentage point; in the runoff, Eberle won with 73%. But he also came away disillusioned by the $70,000 cost to the city of the runoff election, and began pushing for eliminating the requirement. In 2006, the council voted to eliminate runoffs for council seats, but kept them for mayoral races.

Though the runoff requirement took effect the year current Mayor Dave Bieter first ran, it’s never come into play for a Boise mayor’s race. That’s because Bieter’s always won outright with a majority on the first ballot.

In 2003, Bieter defeated Chuck Winder, Vaughn Killeen and Max Mohammadi, collecting 52% of the vote in the four-way race. In 2007, Bieter defeated challenger Jim Tibbs with 64% of the vote. In 2011, he took 74.3% against challenger David Hall. And in 2015, Bieter defeated Judy Peavey-Derr and Seth Holden with 68.8% of the vote.

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