BOISE — For the first time ever, Boise voters will be headed to the polls for a second time next month to decide if incumbent Mayor Dave Bieter or City Council President Lauren McLean will lead Idaho’s largest city.
Although McLean didn’t earn the 51% of the vote necessary to win the election Tuesday, with all 88 precincts reporting, she handily surpassed Bieter by receiving 23,669 votes, or 45.7%, according to unofficial election results from Ada County.
Bieter came behind her with 15,711, or 30.3% of the vote.
The rest of the field trailed them, with 6,863 votes, or 13.2%, for Ada County Highway District Commission President Rebecca Arnold; 3,804 votes, or 7.3%, for former Boise Mayor Brent Coles; 847 votes, or 1.6%, for Wayne Richey, 588 votes or 1.1% for Adriel Martinez, and 360 votes, or 0.7%, for Cortney Nielsen.
The mayoral race will go to a December runoff, in which voters will decide between McLean and Bieter. That will give both candidates roughly another 30 days to sprint to the finish line in an attempt to grab the city’s highest office.
As the results trickled in Tuesday, Bieter continued to greet supporters while the crowd at his election party at the Basque Center in downtown Boise dwindled. His campaign did not release a statement Tuesday night.
McLean’s party at her campaign headquarters was going strong past 11 p.m. as the final results were tallied. Surrounded by supporters, she expressed gratitude for the votes and said she was ready for the runoff.
“I feel grateful for what we’re seeing so far, but recognize there are still challenges ahead in this race,” she said. “As I was listening and heard from our citizens that somebody needed to step up with a new style of leadership and a sense of urgency to tackle the challenges of our day, I responded to that. What we’re seeing tonight is the result of that work.”
Bieter is seeking an unprecedented fifth term after a tumultuous year marked by growing frustration at city council meetings and on social media about some of Bieter’s priorities. Despite recent criticism, Bieter has long experienced strong popularity due to new parks and recreation facilities, housing efforts, and a city-school district partnership to expand early education. Bieter also received support from the first-responder community.
McLean, who is looking to replace him, was appointed by Bieter to Boise City Council in early 2011, then won election to council later that year and reelection again in 2015. Prior to taking her seat on the council, she served as the campaign manager for the 2001 Foothills Open Space Initiative, and served on the Boise Parks Commission and Planning & Zoning Commission. Her campaign priorities include government transparency, more affordable housing programming and halting the possibility of putting public dollars into a sports park.