Opinion: Boise’s mayoral runoff election: McLean’s promise to young voters

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Lauren McLean is the Boise City Council president and was recently elected as Boise mayor in the Dec. 3

Photo courtesy of Lauren McLean.

runoff election. She is an alumna of Boise State University. 

Last week, I made my final student loan payment. 

I am 45. 

College students across this country are beginning adult life with more debt than any other generation in history. My education here in the master’s in public administration program was second to none, but the cost of higher education is out of control. And when the challenges of mounting student debt are compounded by a housing crisis, stagnant wages and a skyrocketing cost of living? It means Boise State graduates face an increasingly uncertain future if they want to stay a part of this community.

I know that I am one of the lucky ones. My husband Scott and I moved to Boise nearly 22 years ago and were able to purchase a house and find good jobs, back when that was possible for two people right out of college. In today’s Boise, that dream is increasingly unattainable.

I have been hearing from people all over this city for months that they are worried. They feel priced out of the city they love, pushed further and further out of Boise and then, if they want to move efficiently between home, jobs and schools, stuck in their cars for long commutes and parking challenges.

Boise is truly at a crossroads with unique and pressing challenges: a housing shortage, increasing congestion and a global climate crisis. Though we have come a long way in the past 16 years, our problems have changed and demand new styles of leadership and thinking. I am optimistic that a new generation of leaders — both in the private sector and in public service — can tackle our biggest problems and transform them into opportunities. Empowering young professionals and next generation thinkers should be the charge of any elected official: it is the kind of community leader I have been, and the kind of mayor I pledge to be.

No one knows better than Boise State’s community the power of a fresh leader. You recently made history by hiring the first female president, Dr. Marlene Tromp. The entire city has been energized and excited by her new style of leadership. I am so honored to be the first woman elected to the office of Boise mayor and the first Boise mayor from the next generation of leaders.

I may have finally finished paying off my student loans, but I will not forget the struggle to do so. As mayor, I will move Boise forward with people-first priorities. I’ll demonstrate that a city truly thrives when we chart a shared future with our entire community, embrace the unique opportunities of a 21st century economy and place people front and center in every policy we make and every goal we set. My vision? Boise standing as that shining city on (or just below) a hill, the exemplar of an equitable community powered by renewable energy, fair-wage jobs, with clean air and water, parks and pathways, where people can build affordable, healthy and prosperous lives full of promise. I believe we can be a model for this state, our region and beyond.

This Boise is a city for everyone, and I will do everything in my power to ensure it includes each of you.

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1 Comment

  1. Teressa Clarke on

    Wow. What Lauren McLean failed to mention in this opinion article directed to students at BSU is that though she is indeed an “alumnu of Boise State” (her master’s degree), she also attended an exclusive and expensive private university, the University of Notre Dame, according to her own website. Notre Dame’s tuition is $200,000 for a four year degree or $50,000 a year, and that’s not counting room and board. It was less back when she graduated, but still. Then, after choosing to attend an expensive, private university, Lauren McLean chose to obtain a masters degree at Boise State University, for her career. That’s fine. Her choice. But to complain about her student loans in this article and her “struggle,” but neglect to mention her expensive Notre Dame education? To pretend to be in the same boat as the rest of us, when she attended Notre Dame and her own child is attending university right now in Scotland? That’s like going out to Chandler’s restaurant for four years instead of affordable Chili’s and then complaining about the bill! My husband and I are both professionals, but we can not afford to send our three children to expensive private universities nor can we afford to send them abroad to college. Why? Because we can’t afford it, and they would have to take on too much college debt. We live in the Real World, a place I don’t think many politicians really know much about. In the Real World, where we live, all three of our children have or are attending state schools like BSU. And yes, debt accrues at state schools like everywhere else, and tuition costs need to be reduced for all students, absolutely. But it’s disingenuous for Lauren McLean to write an opinion article bemoaning how long it took to pay off her student debt but failing to mention her expensive private education and that is was her choice to go there and accrue that debt (along with the many opportunities and connections that surely came with that high-priced education). Why didn’t Lauren McLean tell the whole story? That is what’s really important here.

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