"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

A Boise mayoral prediction

Sort of, and it isn’t ours, though the rationale is credible enough.

This year will bring the mayoral (and councilmanic) election in Boise, with a November runoff if no one takes a clear majority. Mayor David Bieter is expected to run for another term, and there’s been, for at least two years, a widespread presumption about who his opponent (chief opponent, at least) will be. The Boise Guardian (David Frazier) is predicting that presumption will materialize, in the person of Council member Jim Tibbs.

Jim Tibbs
Jim Tibbs

They have history. Not long after taking office as mayor – he had just barely won a clear majority in 2003 – Bieter had to select a new police chief. Tibbs, who had served in the Boise force for a third of a century and was at that point interim chief, had substantial support, but didn’t get Bieter’s nod. Talk emerged almost immediately that Tibbs would run for council in 2005 and, if he won, would challenge Bieter in 2007. In fact he did run and win in 2005. So, now: Will he run?

Evidently there’s been nothing definite, but the Frazier suggests that he’s seen enough indicators to call it. And maybe he will. As Frazier points out, Tibbs is in mid-term; if he loses for mayor, he still stays on the council.

Still, we’ll hold off any predictions for now.

David Bieter
David Bieter

You’ll find plenty of people in Boise who say the opposite. Former Ada County Commissioner Sharon Ullman says in a Guardian comment that “The only question about the Tibbs/Bieter mayoral race is whether Chuck Winder will jump in too. Either way, I predict Tibbs will win, hands down.” Another: “I have to agree, Tibbs will wallop Bieter at the polls, I would not waste the money if I were him.” Another: “All Jim Tibbs has to do to be mayor is run.” (Be it noted here, that none of those comments reflect Frazier’s own post.)

Our take remains that Bieter is well positioned. When he won in 2003 his background as a Democrat (he served as such in the Idaho House) would hurt his chances of even clearing the runoff; instead, he won outright. Since then, all political indicators have suggested that his partisan background may be of more advantage than not, to the extent it matters.

And to the extent it doesn’t, he’s still not badly positioned. Bieter has developed a roster of critics, of course (and we’re not arguing here his record is flawless). But his opposition seems to consist of small and widely scattered groups. In a larger sense, there’s no real brief against Bieter – some sense that he’s doing something wrong, enough to rise up and fire him. There’s no major issue that most of the city is worked up about to use against him as a lever (or hammer). Nor does he have a major personal issue. He may not be a super policy wonk or a brilliant orator, but he’s a likable guy, and that makes up for a lot. Arguers for his political weakness seem to have difficulty coming up with specific reasons why.

There’s also this as an indicator: If Tibbs doesn’t run, there’s no immediate indication of any top-tier opponent for Bieter at all. There’s no long line of prospects.

It may be a race. Much can happen between here and there.

AMENDMENT This post has been edited to reflect the election date in November, rather than in May, as originally posted (and thanks to the commenter for drawing attention to that point).

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  1. kodell said:

    Municipal elections are held in November in Idaho, not May as you suggest. Therefore, there is a little more than the three months you mentioned…

    February 25, 2007
  2. Joe Moran said:

    Mayor Bieter has let the People of Boise down on numerous occasions while refusing to confront and try to solve some of Boise’s community problems. After almost a full term there is still no de-tox center available for all our citizens including the poor while we deal with a drug epidemic that Mayor Dave and Council seem to want to ignore. Boise has one of the worst bus systems in the US yet the Mayor is still talking about light rail and a tourist trolley around the city. Wake up dave ! We need more buses,more routes and more service hours! The Road system in Boise is a throwback to the 1950’s creating massive traffic jams and pollution. We need to use urban road GRID planning that does away with confusing one-ways and main arteries WITHOUT CAUTION LIGHTS AND a road network based on a North-south system that suddenly switches to East-west ( Behind Albertson’s at State and 16’th.) Boise needs efficient cooperation and the best of funding for all it’s emergency services depts. ( Police,fire,ambulances) instead of having them compete with each other. Our city needs to legislate strict LAWS for DEVELOPERS AND THEIR MASSIVE PINK-ELEPHANT PROJECTS so the taxpayer is not bankrupt by projects like The Ada county Courthouse and Bo-do that currently are largely VACANT! Lastly Bieter has let CCDC become a well financed entity that does nothing for the People while taxing them and using those taxes to enrich itself. The above is a short list of Mayor Dave’s Major Gaffes and tells all why Boise’s Citizens will be hopin’ and prayin’JIM Tibbs runs, cause WE SURE AS HECK NEED HIM!

    February 28, 2007

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