Candidate breakdown: What to know about the upcoming Boise Mayoral Election

Photo by Niamh Brennan

The country is a year away from the next presidential election, but another election is right around the corner. The City of Boise will have an election for Mayor and City Council on Nov 7.

Mayor McLean is seeing a challenge from Former Boise Chief of Police Mike Masterson. In addition to Masterson, McLean is being challenged by Joe Evans, a Libertarian who ran for Idaho’s district 1 seat in the U.S. legislature in 2022. The final challenger is local activist Aaron Reis.

This is a breakdown of each of the candidates and the platforms they are running on.

Mayor Lauren McLean

McLean served on the Boise City Council from 2011-2019 and was council president from 2017-2019. She then became the first woman to hold the office of Boise Mayor in 2020.

McLean being the incumbent, has a track record over the past four years of policy that she has put into place. First elected in 2019 when she beat former Mayor, Democrat, David Bieter, she has had four years to build up a resume for herself.

Mayor McLean’s primary initiatives have included issues such as affordable housing, living wages and safety. 

On the topic of jobs, under McLean’s term as Mayor, Micron started construction on a new memory manufacturing fab. This comes after a $15 billion investment plan that will “create over 17,000 new American jobs, including approximately 2,000 direct Micron jobs, by the end of the decade” according to a press release from Micron.

McLean also provided $2 million in grants to small businesses stemming from the American Rescue Plan (ARPA).

McLean has also touted direct grants that will go to childcare providers and workers in the Boise area. This included the ability to apply for a one-time payment of $1,500.

One of McLean’s plans moving forward will be her Pathways Plan which aims to add safer walkways for people in Boise and the areas surrounding.

“The Boise Pathways Plan will build on the success of the Boise River Greenbelt to develop a robust system of off-street walking and biking pathways to safely connect our city and allow people to get around without relying on a vehicle” according to the plan posted on the City of Boise website.

In addition to these policies, McLean has been an avid supporter of the LGBTQ community in Boise and can be seen every year in her pink suit walking in the Boise Pride parade.

McLean has made her opinion very clear in relation to anti-trans legislation in the state of Idaho.

“My heart breaks today for every loving parent of a trans child, every doctor who strives to offer life-saving affirming care, and every child in our community targeted by H71” said McLean in a tweet. H71 blocked gender affirming care from individuals under the age of 18.

Mike Masterson

Current Mayor McLean is being challenged by longtime Boise public servant, former Chief of Police Mike Masterson.

Masterson served as Boise Police Chief from 2005-2015. In his time as Police Chief, Masterson oversaw the creation of programs such as a refugee outreach program, the BSU student Alcohol Diversion Program and the 10 to 10 zone for Bronco football games.

The 10 to 10 zone is a program that establishes a zone that begins at Broadway Ave and Myrtle St and extends west along Capitol Blvd. This program “specifies areas off-campus where people age 21 or older may consume alcoholic beverages from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Boise State home football game days only” according to the program from the City of Boise.

Masterson and current police officers saw a lack of support coming from the current Mayor’s Office.

“I’ve been pretty happy in retirement, serving military veterans, doing family things, when last fall the mayor took to basically casting aspersions on the Boise Police Department for the actions of one retired troubled captain regarding his racist views,” Masterson said in an interview with The Arbiter.

This is in reference to former Police Capt. Matt Bryngelson making racist posts online while serving as Police Capt. A lawyer from Washington, D.C. was hired by Mayor McLean to investigate the matter.

“I thought that there was a talented legal community here… very trained professionals that we could have stayed here locally at a much lower cost,” said Masterson.

Masterson is running as an independent and has been endorsed by many different groups like the police and fire unions as well as former Mayor David Bieter, a Democrat.

“Throughout my life, I’ve never declared any party candidacy. I mean, in policing, it hasn’t been good to reveal a whole lot about your personal life, whether it’s your political views, whether it’s your religious views, I mean, all those were kind of kept in the background for me with no disclosure, because when you go into somebody’s house, and you have to solve a problem, I don’t want to give them a preconceived notion,” Masterson said.

Recently, Masterson faced an issue when it comes to his supporters and their views on the current Mayor McLean and the LGBTQ community in Boise. 

There was a political ad paid for by an endorser of Masterson that painted the LGBTQ community as a far left, extremist agenda.

“I became aware of these ads today, and I want to make it clear to every Boisean that I had nothing to do with their creation and that I do not condone them,” Masterson said in a statement to The Idaho Statesman.

Masterson has stated that he supports and stands with marginalized communities.

Masterson is known for bringing new officers to visit the Anne Frank Memorial and inviting guests of various faiths and beliefs to speak. Guests included members of the LGBTQ community, members of the Muslim faith, and a Rabbi.

“It wasn’t only the significance of bringing my new officers down to the Anne Frank Memorial before they took their oath, to acquaint them with the injustices that have occurred around the world when authorities have failed to act and they failed to protect people, underrepresented people” Masterson said in an interview with The Arbiter.

Election day is Nov 7 and Idaho has same day registration. Early voting started Oct 23 and ends Nov 3 with locations being open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. This will be the first election with the new voter registration policies in effect.

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