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