BOISE — Boise residents passed two controversial initiatives Tuesday.
Voters said they wanted a vote on two major projects the city of Boise has started within recent years: a new main library in downtown Boise and a public-private partnership to build a stadium.
Proposition 1, about the main library, got 35,545 votes, or 69.1%, meaning most voters want a chance to vote on the project in the future.
Proposition 2, about the stadium, earned 38,868 votes, or 75.2%.
The language of the initiatives has been a point of contention since it was written because it asks residents if they would like a vote on the project at a later date, instead of a direct yes or no question right now.
Boise Working Together, the concerned citizens group that wrote the language and gathered the signatures necessary to put it on the ballot, issued a celebratory statement Tuesday night.
“I think the vote tonight on both the propositions is overwhelming and undeniable,” David Klinger, an organizer with the group. “We saw something as much as a year and a half ago that the city leadership never saw coming or chose to ignore. We think this is a win for the citizens of Boise. We think this could herald a new and better way of doing business on major city projects.”
The ballot language for the library asked voters if they would like a public vote on any library project set to exceed $25 million. It also requires the city provide the project’s full cost, how it would be paid for, its location and all other details to the public when casting their ballot.
For the sports park, the ballot language asks voters to choose if they would like a public vote on any sports park that would cost more than $5 million. This includes both public and private funds.
The fate of the ballot initiatives is going to be determined by the runoff for the mayor’s race in less than 30 days. Because of dispute over the language, incumbent Boise Mayor Dave Bieter vowed to take the issue to court and have it ruled on by a judge if reelected.
“… I think one way or another we’ll find ourselves in court,” according to notes of Bieter’s talking points for a meeting with library stakeholders in August, according to records acquired by the Idaho Press. “I don’t ever want to predict what the outcome of a court case will be, because you never know, but we’re pretty confident that (the initiative) would be found unconstitutional.”
On the other hand, mayoral candidate Lauren McLean has similar concerns about the ballot language and said she would vote against it, but would not push the city to challenge the language in court.
“Someone would have to petition and ask the question, rather than the city fight them (if I am elected),” McLean said at a mayoral candidate forum on Oct. 18. “If the city wanted to disagree on the constitutionality, we would see that process through, but I would not be taking steps to go to the courts.”