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Boise mayoral candidates face off, answer questions at election forum

Six of the seven candidates for mayor took part in another public forum as we get closer to the Nov. 5 election day.

BOISE, Idaho — It was round two Wednesday night as six of the seven candidates for Boise mayor squared off in a public forum.

Political fireworks erupted Monday at a candidate forum at Boise State University, according to our media partner, the Idaho Press.

Incumbent Dave Bieter took swipes at several of his opponents and they fired back. You can read the full coverage of that debate here.

That left many wondering how Wednesday night's forum would shape up and if any candidates would be on the offensive. 

The forum was held at the Trailhead in downtown Boise and featured six of the seven candidates. Adriel Martinez was not in attendance.

Everything started off quietly with each candidate giving their one-minute responses to multiple topics including affordable housing, increasing property taxes and public transportation. 

But when candidates were answering a question about the proposed downtown stadium, the gloves came off. 

RELATED: Meridian mayoral, city council candidates discuss growth and transportation at packed public forum

The candidates were asked whether they would support using public funding to pay for a new stadium. All candidates except Bieter responded that they would not support such a move.

In explaining his reasons for supporting public funding for a new stadium, Bieter took his first shot at Lauren McLean, who is the current City Council president. 

“I’m really happy to draw this distinction from my opponents," Bieter said. “You heard one of my opponents slip and say 'I was for it' and then start to correct herself. She was for it until it got hard.”

A few moments later the microphone made its way back to McLean.

“When we’re called out are we able to follow up on that or no?" she asked.

The moderator told her she could use her minute however she wanted and McLean chose instead to answer the question and not respond to Bieter.

Watch the full forum on our YouTube page or in the video player below

The next dig from Bieter came while candidates were addressing funding public transportation. He again took a shot at McLean.

“The first rule of any endeavor, like young professionals know, is to show up," he said. "And my opponent – the first Valley Regional Transit meeting she went to was two months ago after almost nine years on City Council.”

Again, McLean did not respond. 

Toward the end of the forum, there was a lightning round in which candidates had 10 seconds each to answer questions.

During this round, candidates were asked what they would do to improve Boise. 

Bieter had a short response directed at Rebecca Arnold, current president of the Ada County Highway District Commission.

“Get rid of ACHD and get our roads back,” Bieter answered.

Arnold returned fire during her closing statement several minutes later. She said the city has lost focus and part of the reason for that is its leadership. 

“We have some elected officials who’ve been privileged their entire life and they don’t understand what it’s like to not be able to afford a home or an apartment,” she said.

Arnold continued by saying that instead of "chasing the next top 10 list," Boise needs to focus on spending money efficiently.

RELATED: Voter Guide: See what's on your ballot for the November 2019 election

Looking directly at Bieter, Arnold said, “Things like taking 20 percent pay raises, what twice during your term? That to me indicates there is no responsible spending.”

In the lightning round, candidates talked about issues such as allowing medical marijuana in the city and the recent controversy over F-35 aircraft possibly coming to Boise. 

Both McLean and Arnold said they do not support the proposed F-35 mission because the environmental impact study showed the aircraft could hurt affordable housing and affect a nearby school.

Bieter was in favor, however, saying it would be economically beneficial. 

Wayne Richey also didn't seem to mind the aircraft coming to the city. 

"I grew up with F-4s in the valley. That big glaring ‘Rah!’, that’s the sound of freedom," he said.

Candidate Cortney Nielsen believes the aircraft could be taken elsewhere. 

"Mountain Home is a great location," she said. 

Brent Coles, a former Boise mayor and council member, said he supports missions at Gowen but not if it detracts from the city.

"Yes but not carte blanche," he said. "Certainly don’t want supersonic flights in and around our city.”

Candidates for Boise City Council will have their forum Thursday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the library located at Cole and Ustick roads. 

Election Day is Tuesday, November 5.

RELATED: Early voting now open in Ada, Canyon counties

KTVB previously asked each of the Boise mayoral candidates the same questions, focusing on growth and affordable housing. You can watch all of their responses in our YouTube playlist:

Watch more mayoral and city council forums and debates:

See all of our local politics coverage in our YouTube Playlist:

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