CALDWELL — Councilman Chuck Stadick said Wednesday he will not seek a recount but instead will consider endorsing one of his opponents in the Caldwell City Council Seat 6 race after finishing third in the Nov. 5 election.
The incumbent trailed candidate Evangeline Beechler by just 11 votes. Now, Beechler will face the race's top vote-getter, former state Sen. John McGee, in a runoff election.
On Wednesday, Canyon County confirmed the runoff will take place Tuesday, Dec. 3 — the same day as the Boise mayoral runoff election between Mayor Dave Bieter and City Council President Lauren McLean.
Stadick won 994 votes, or 30.2%, in last week's election, while Beechler received 1,005 votes, or 30.5%. McGee received the most votes with 1,291, or 39.2%.
Stadick said he is now considering endorsing Beechler in the runoff election rather than asking for a recount to solidify which one of them came in second place. However, Stadick added that he's waiting for more information before making an endorsement.
The city on Friday announced the need for a runoff election, after wording in a 30-year-old city ordinance stirred up confusion. The code, according to input from the Idaho Secretary of State and Attorney General offices, does call for a runoff when no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote. However, Caldwell hasn't held a runoff in the three decades since the ordinance passed, and candidates have won without that majority.
The runoff between Beechler and McGee will take place Dec. 3 at a single polling place: the Canyon County Elections Office, 1102 E. Chicago St., Caldwell.
Stadick and Beechler met Tuesday to discuss Beechler's views as Stadick considers whether to endorse her. Beechler and Stadick said this week the meeting went well, although Beechler said she did not ask Stadick for his endorsement.
Stadick said he was not considering endorsing McGee because of his past conduct as a senator. McGee resigned from the Idaho Senate in 2012 amid an accusation of sexually harassing a female Senate staffer. McGee pleaded guilty later that year to a misdemeanor disturbing the peace charge for sexual harassment and he admitted violating the terms of his probation stemming from a 2011 DUI case. McGee was sentenced to up to 88 days in jail but was released after 39 days.
Stadick said this week by phone he's not supporting McGee to avoid potentially putting Caldwell's female employees in a compromising situation.
When reached by phone Wednesday, McGee did not comment directly on Stadick's choice not to endorse him. Election Day results showed Caldwell voters clearly supported him, he said. He said voters will have to choose between himself — the former county Republican Party chairman "who made a mistake eight years ago" — or Beechler, the chair of the Idaho Democratic Party. McGee said he believes the choice is clear.
"Caldwell voters are looking to the future," he said. "They're not looking to the past."
Stadick said he asked Beechler about issues that were important to him, such as urban renewal spending, impact fees and conservative budgeting. He said they were on the same page about most of the issues they discussed.
"I was pleasantly surprised," Stadick said.
Stadick said Beechler supported Caldwell updating its impact fees as soon as possible, consolidating Destination Caldwell and the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce for fundraising efforts and Indian Creek Plaza operations, and making Caldwell's two golf courses self-sufficient, without relying on taxpayer funding.
McGee serves as vice chairman on the Destination Caldwell board. Two of his top priorities as a councilman, according to a candidate survey with the Idaho Press, are to "keep tax rates low" and "continue to create community assets like the Indian Creek Plaza." McGee also said he supports continued discussion on Caldwell's impact fees.
Stadick said Beechler was less "up to date" on Caldwell's urban renewal issues and told him she would seek his input on the subject, which Stadick said he would provide.
Stadick said he told Beechler it was important to him that Beechler not promote "her lifestyle" on the council, referring to the fact that Beechler is married to a woman. He later explained that he did not want Beechler, if she were to be elected, to push for more diversity on the council. He said Beechler agreed.
"Her private life is her own business," Stadick said.