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Reporter's Notebook: The Scene at Mayor Bieter's Election Party

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A line of tabs 13 credit cards long stood open on the bar at the Basque Center—brisk business for any night, much less a Tuesday at 10 p.m.—but revelers packed the hall for Election Night Nov. 3 to celebrate the candidacies of incumbent Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and council members Elaine Clegg, Scot Ludwig and Lauren McLean.

As vote tallies from Ada County Elections were fed to a screen in the hall, the victory toasts began well before anybody was announced a winner. As much as any one candidate, party goers also cheered on the Clean Water and Open Spaces levy, which ultimately passed with nearly 74 percent of the vote.

The spread, according to Boise Weekly food writer Tara Morgan, was sumptuous. A woman at the door handed out free red drink tickets, good for beer and wine. Another handed out Bieter campaign trucker hats. Guests mingled with plates piled high with meatballs, young Manchego goat cheese and fig jam. 

"These are no Colby jack cubes," Morgan said.

- Left to right: Lauren McLean, Elaine Clegg, Dave Bieter, Scot Ludwig -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Left to right: Lauren McLean, Elaine Clegg, Dave Bieter, Scot Ludwig
At 10:30 p.m., Bieter led his fellow candidates on stage as the final results were delivered.

Bieter handily won a record-tying fourth term as mayor, with nearly 70 percent of the vote. His closest opponent, Republican challenger Judy Peavey-Derr, pulled just more than 26 percent of the vote. McLean ran unopposed. Ludwig won almost 70 percent of the vote in his race against Adriel Martinez, and Clegg took almost 67 percent of the vote over her opponent, Andy Hawes, who took the remainder. 

It was an utter victory for the mayor, council members and levy but, on stage, Bieter said there was a moral component to the evening's wins.

"One of my opponents said some awful things, and to just beat that back [is a victory]," he said, referring to remarks made by Peavey-Derr during the campaign disparaging refugees. Bieter's comment was met with widespread applause.

During the campaign, Peavey-Derr distinguished herself from the popular mayor by stoking fears that refugees were sopping up social services at the expense of veterans and Idahoans experiencing homelessness, describing the influx of refugees as a "blight" on some Boise neighborhoods. She also opposed the open spaces levy, in opposition to what former Conservation Voters for Idaho Executive Director John Reuter described as a "mild-mannered, sincere bunch with a center-left agenda to gently nudge the city they love into a better future."

Ludwig, in his own remarks, praised the council's unity.

"I'm so giddy. The synergy between the City Council members is amazing," he said.

The council's program for Boise has included a spate of downtown development, new neighborhood parks, a  first-of-its-kind free pre-kindergarten program and a new library branch in Bown Crossing. In the lead-up to the Nov. 3 election, City Council members and the mayor canvassed neighborhoods and made notable appearances where the hand of city government had played a role.

By 11 p.m., The Buggles' '80s hit "Video Killed the Radio Star" was playing, and Boise Director of Community Partnerships Diana Lachiondo celebrated big wins at City Hall with friends.

Lachiondo has her fingerprints on a number of city programs that have played roles in boosting the council's image, including the pre-K program and the Pay For Success program, in which private enterprises propose homelessness programs and bid for public money to implement them.

Success for the mayor and incumbent council members was a success for her, as well, and she celebrated wearing a Dave Bieter trucker cap jauntily cocked to the side.