McLean defeats Bieter overwhelmingly in Boise mayoral race

Hayley Harding Idaho Statesman//December 4, 2019

McLean defeats Bieter overwhelmingly in Boise mayoral race

Hayley Harding Idaho Statesman//December 4, 2019

At her campaign watch party, Lauren McLean talks to supporters after she won the Boise mayoral race. Photo by Katherine Jones/Idaho Statesman

Boise City Council President Lauren McLean soundly defeated four-term incumbent Mayor David Bieter in Tuesday’s runoff election to become Boise’s first regularly elected female mayor.

With all of the city’s 88 precincts counted, McLean had 65.5% to Bieter’s 34.5% of the more than 46,000 votes counted by 10:50 p.m.

“I’m feeling honored and blessed. I feel deeply responsible to the city and her people, and I’m looking forward to everyone coming together as we get to work,” McLean told the Idaho Statesman at her election night headquarters at the Gem Center for the Arts on the Boise Bench.

Supporters danced. Former Mayor Brent Coles, a Republican who came in fourth in the November election, was on hand. He said he knocked on doors and made calls for McLean during the runoff campaign.

“Lauren is going to be a great mayor,” he told the Statesman.

Soon after results started rolling in, Bieter told supporters that the race didn’t look like it would go his way. An hour later, by 9:45 p.m., Bieter called McLean to congratulate her.

Carolyn Terteling-Payne was Boise’s first female mayor, taking the reins for a shortened term after Coles resigned in 2003 after a scandal. McLean is the first to be elected directly to the office by voters.

Lauren McLean. File photo

“Next year, it’ll be 100 years of the women’s right to vote, the year I’ll be sworn in as the first elected female mayor,” McLean said. “… I think often about these Girl Scouts that were at City Hall this winter, who walked up to me and asked me why there weren’t more women on the wall of mayors. The question stuck with me, and I’m thinking about them right now.”

McLean planned to board a plane shortly after 5 a.m. Wednesday to head to join mayors-elect from around the country for Harvard University’s Seminar on Transition for Newly-Elected Mayors, which McLean called “mayor camp.”

She’ll join with newly elected leaders from around the country, including Nadine Woodward of Spokane, Erin Mendenhall of Salt Lake City and Robert Simison of Meridian, to talk about effective transitions and to “get right to work starting a relationship with mayors across the region.”

McLean said she will announce her transition team soon shortly and will begin working on housing and building new relationships as soon as she is sworn in Jan. 7.

“I am profoundly grateful to this community,” she said. “I take this responsibility seriously, and I look forward to working together with our City Council and our citizens to move our city forward.”

Meanwhile, in Caldwell, former Idaho Republican state Sen. John McGee, who resigned in 2012 after accusations that he propositioned a female staffer, easily defeated Evangeline “Van” Beechler, the chairwoman of the Idaho Democratic Party, in a runoff for a seat on the City Council.

The runoff election saw 46,345 votes cast from 35.2% of Boise’s registered voters, shy of November’s 52,303, which was 40.1%. Bieter won about 300 votes more than he did in November, while McLean picked up more than 6,600. McLean won more votes in every precinct except one, 2109 in Southwest Boise — the candidates split the six votes cast there, according to a graphic from the Ada County Elections office.