A very informal poll was conducted at Monday afternoon's City Club of Boise as moderator Dr. Jim Weatherby gauged the audience on how it might vote in the Tuesday, Nov. 5, general election.
"How many people here promise to vote?" asked Weatherby as practically every hand in a packed ballroom of Boise's Grove Hotel went in the air [approximately 250 people attended the midday forum].
"How many people have voted early?" About a third of the hands went up.
Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, rarely nonplussed, pursed his lips to silently mouth "Wow." Hizzoner was clearly pleased.
But Bieter may have been preaching to the choir Monday afternoon as his participated in a City Club forum that cast a spotlight on the upcoming vote on two municipal bonds, asking Boise voters if they're willing to foot the bill for a $17.2 million bond (including issuance costs) for fire safety and another $15.7 million (again, including issuance costs) for open space and public park investments.
In fact the forum had more in common with a campaign rally, as the other panelists joined Bieter in urging voters to vote "yes" and "yes" on the two initiatives. The mayor partnered with "Yes! Yes! for Boise" co-chair Brice Sloan and Toni Hardesty, director of the Idaho Nature Conservancy, to push for an affirmative vote, which will require a two-thirds majority.
Bieter said passage of the two bond initiatives were "fundamental to our identity as a city and to our future."
"We should fix the roof while the sun shines," said Bieter, borrowing a phrase from President John Kennedy. "We've come out of the [economic] downtown and now is the time for these efforts."
The only dissent, and there was very little to speak of, came in the form of a handful of questions from the City Club audience.
When asked why the Boise City Council chose to waive all three readings of the ordinance in September, leading to placing the bonds on the Nov. 5 ballot, Bieter he and the council had in fact been working on the issues for years.
"My State of the City address last June was an opportunity to use maximum media coverage to get the word out on this and it was well received," said Bieter. "Additionally, we've had countless office hours in talking with citizens about this. We feel the outreach has been intense and full. There have been dozens and dozens of opportunities to interact with city officials."
Bieter also disputed that the bond campaign wasn't reaching a sufficient number of potential voters.
"We believe the word is out and the public is engaged," he said. "We believe we're going to win this. And I can say that we've deployed strategies that will help us do that."
In this coming Wednesday's edition of Boise Weekly, we'll examine the battle of the bonds and go behind the scenes of a campaign that has quickly become one of the most sophisticated municipal elections in the city's history.