Rist unseats McNeal; Anderson, Schroeder win
...Long-time city councilman Tom Rist edged incumbent mayor Joe B. McNeal in city elections last Tuesday where the results weren't released until nearly 6 a.m. Wednesday morning.
When the final returns were in, Rist had garnered 1,368 votes to McNeal's
1,050, in balloting that was considered to be unusually heavy for a "pure" city election in which no other measures or races were on the ballot.
...Mayor McNeal promised to assist Rist in making a smooth transition of office between now and January, when Rist and the new councilmen will officially assume their offices.
...But Rist first heard of his victory from his opponent, incumbent Mayor Joe B. McNeal, who called him on his cell phone to offer his congratulations.McNeal
apparently had found out the results from a poll watcher shortly before they were officially phoned in to city hall.
Rist said McNeal
was gracious in his congratulations, "but I know he has to be heartbroken."
...McNeal, who earlier in his political career had served on the city council for eight years, had won election to the mayor's position -- a lifetime dream -- on his third try four years ago, defeating incumbent Dave Jett, who had served one term after succeeding the late Don Etter, who had served 16 years in office as mayor.
...In doing so, McNeal became the first African-American in Idaho history to be elected mayor by direct popular vote.
In seeking re-election, McNeal
had stressed the economic growth of the community that had occurred during his
administration, but his
term of office had been marred by constant battling with the city council, which was often at odds with him over his
administrative style and decision-making.
I've known Joe McNeal
Bar-B-Que Restaurant, back in the 70's, known as "Joe-B-Q."
I've always known him as a fine and decent man, and an honest one, which always confused me a little on why an honest man would get involved in politics!I always teased him about that.Joe McNeal
and Cecil Andrus are the only two Democrats I have ever supported on a regular basis.
I saw Joe
this afternoon and offered my condolences on his
narrow loss......which might have been different, had more than HALF the registered voters actually turned out!Spilt milk now, but Joe thanked me for the support over the years and told me to tell my fellow McNeal supporters to get behind the new mayor, and do all we can to help him, because after all....."this is our town and our community, and we need to do everything we can to make it better."
I know him, and I know he
that. Joe McNeal
is the only politician I know that could be that gracious in defeat.He's
gonna spend some time with his
wife and "re-coup a little."I hope he
runs again in the not-too-distant future, but for a higher position........say.........in the state legislature somewhere.