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Boise mayoral candidates take questions from impassioned homeless community

Mayor Dave Bieter and City Council President Lauren McLean visited the Interfaith Sanctuary to answer questions about the problems Boise's homeless population faces.

BOISE, Idaho — Both candidates vying for Boise mayor were at the Interfaith Sanctuary Thursday for a discussion with the homeless community about their concerns and struggles they currently face. 

The event was closed to the public, but members of the homeless community who attended were able to write down questions to be asked of either one, or both, candidates. 

Multiple questions were written about topics such as affordable housing and transportation for people to be able to get to and from work. The most popular topic was the city's anti-camping ordinance. 

Mayor Dave Bieter was asked specifically about the ordinance twice, but no questions about it were directed to Lauren McLean. 

RELATED: City of Boise asks U.S. Supreme Court to review public camping ruling

Bieter said overall, he didn't feel like the event was completely on the up-and-up.

Originally, he said the press and public were not invited, and he claims some Interfaith Sanctuary board members he spoke with were not even aware of it.

However, Bieter decided to attend anyway because he felt it was an important issue. He did not feel the discussion ended up being 100% fair. 

“It was a non-event,” he said. “It wasn’t an impartial forum on the issues.”

The moderator for the event was Jodi Peterson-Stigers, the executive director of Interfaith Sanctuary.

When talking with KTVB afterward, Bieter's responses were corrected more than once by Peterson-Stigers but the same was not done to McLean. 

Bieter also felt there was some hostility toward him at the event. Some in attendance even murmured profanities in response to some of his answers. 

McLean, on the other hand, felt the discussion went well. 

“At the end of the day, this wasn’t supposed to be a debate with lots of rules where we’re trying to one up each other," she said. "This wasn’t about the candidates. This was about the people living in Interfaith Sanctuary and the people in our community experiencing homelessness.”

McLean also said she felt people were passionate about the discussion but she "didn't find it antagonistic."

“I thought it was a really healthy discussion,” she said. “I think it’s really important that we go to where people are, recognize we don’t need to have a debate or a forum but we need to hear form the public and what they want to know from us. Listen to that and respond to that and not make it about us, but make it about the people we serve.”

According to Bieter, even though it didn't feel impartial, he doesn't want to take anything away from the topic of the discussion because homelessness is a very important issue.

“I was glad I went. In the end, I was glad I went,” he said. “I appreciated the chance to talk even in that setting. This is an important issue and those folks are an important part of it.”

RELATED: Boise Mayor Bieter backs off on short-term rental rules