Boise still has a runoff system for the mayor’s seat

Editor’s note: This story first appeared on BoiseDev in May. The story below has been updated.

Here’s a little quirk of Boise’s city government. To win the mayor’s job you have to get a majority of the votes.

Not just the most votes – a majority. As in, more than 50%.

In Boise’s history, only one runoff election ever took place. In 2003, David Eberle and three other candidates took on incumbent Paula Forney. Eberle and Forney both failed to get to the 50% mark, and a second runoff election took place about a month later.

Cost to taxpayers? $70,000.

In the wake of this, Eberle pushed for an end to the runoff for city council seats. The council at the time – 2006 – voted in favor of it. No more runoffs for the councilors

But the mayor?

Still a runoff. The Boise Weekly reported Eberle wanted to make a change to that election pool too. But it never happened before his time on the council ended.

So there it sits, Boise City Code, 1-9-4:

In the event no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, there shall be a runoff election between the two (2) candidates receiving the highest number of votes cast.

The runoff was the talk of the media during the 2003 election cycle in Boise – 16 years ago when Bieter first ran. He faced developer Chuck Winder, Ada County Sheriff Vaughn Killeen and business owner Max Mohammadi.

The runoff clause never triggered way back in 2003 – because Bieter beat all his competitors in the race with a majority. He beat Jim Tibbs in 2007 with 64% of the vote. He topped David Hall in 2011 with 74.3%. And four years ago he took in 68.8% of all votes over Judy Peavey-Derr.

This year, he’ll face dais-mate Lauren McLean, Rebecca Arnold, Brent Coles, Wayne Richey, Cortney Nielsen and Adriel Martinez.

The Boise City Clerk tells BoiseDev the runoff, if it is needed, would be held on Tuesday, December 3rd – that’s the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. The polling places would be the same as the November 5th election, but just the one race with two candidates would appear.

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