You don't have the most interesting mayor's race around the Treasure Valley this year. Not even close.
I attended Monday's City Club forum between incumbent Mayor Dave Bieter and City Council member Jim Tibbs, the third time I've heard the candidates meet face to face. They're both certainly more rehearsed than they were in the summer, and I don't doubt that these two candidates are passionate about the future of their hometown.
Yet the race itself is devoid of passion. Four weeks until Election Day, and no fireworks on the horizon.
Bieter is offering up a pretty safe list of promises to Boise voters: A continued push for transit, preserving a view of the Foothills that is "unobstructed by bad air and bad development." Tibbs voices general disenchantment: He says he hasn't seen satisfactory progress during his two years on the council, and says Boise needs better relationships with other governments, more police officers on the street, and fewer vacant Downtown storefronts.
I've lamented Tibbs' lack of detail all through this campaign. And when our editorial board meets next week with both candidates, we're going to try to drill down for details. But I now get a growing sense that maybe we're seeing all we're going to see this campaign. Tibbs' challenge seems built on a low-grade and not-very-specific sense that things ought to be a little bit better.
Unlike the 2003 election, when Brent Coles' fall from grace created an open and highly charged mayor's race, this one doesn't have much spark. And I suspect a lackluster race will translate into lackluster turnout.
At the outset of Monday's forum, moderator and retired Boise State University professor Jim Weatherby decried Boise's history of voter apathy, and exhorted voters to exceed 50 percent turnout for the first time in decades. Weatherby is one of my favorite pundits and long-suffering Chicago Cubs fans — but in rooting for heavy voter traffic on Nov. 6, he sounds more like the latter than the former.
You want a fascinating mayor's race that's apt to resonate with voters? May as well move to Eagle.
Our editorial board is working its way through interviews with the four mayor's candidates, and we're hearing real differences about plans to develop the Foothills north of town — and the bigger picture question of what this fast-growing city of 21,000 ought to be when it grows up. style="text-decoration:underline;">Click here to find guest opinions from the four candidates.
If the 2003 Boise mayor's race was a defining campaign about how the city would move on from the Coles fiasco, this year's open mayor's race in Eagle feels like a referendum on the city's future. That's a race worth watching — even if you don't live in Eagle.