Bond falls victim to valleys split personality
By RON SOBLE
Express Staff Writer
It was a tough defeat for the tenacious Mary Austin Crofts, Blaine
Countys veteran recreation district director. The $11.8 recreation bond on the Nov.
2 ballot, her day and night obsession for the past few months, was shot down by voters by
about a dozen points.
No one said it was going to be easy. But a dozen points short after
platoons of volunteers knocked on doors up and down the valley? A major defeat after
fund-raising and spending upwards of $10,000 on polling, pamphlets and attendant campaign
Its hard to swallow. Even a fishing respite in Montana last
weekend didnt much help Crofts.
"I thought about it while fishing," she said. "Its
something I really do care about. I was most disappointed for our youth."
There was no doubt it was going to be a hard sell. The valleys
split personality saw to that. What plays in Ketchum doesnt necessarily resonate in
Bellevue, as Kevin Wisers story on this page underscores.
This was one of the dilemmas rec bond supporters were expected to
confront Tuesday afternoon during a post-election brainstorming session at the
districts office in Hailey.
Another part of the equation, Crofts said, was that even after mounting
a major information effort, not enough voters were knowledgeable on the bonds nuts
and bolts. Worse, she added, was a possible disinformation effort by opponents.
In Congress, a bill constructed like the bond measurepackaged
with pools, a gym, sports fieldsis seen as a "Christmas tree" measure,
attempting to garner votes by promising something to everyone. However, "no"
voters, particularly in Bellevue and to the south, apparently didnt see much in it
for them expect another property tax hike.
"Each of our communities and cities operate independently,"
Crofts observed. "It is a spirit of independence that we try to overcome."
Further exacerbating that perception, she suggested, was that residents
south of Hailey wanted rec projects "right there in their backyard."
Learning from this defeat could lead to a streamlined bond measure. But
can it fly anytime soon? Blaine County School District officials, too, are pushing for a
bond measure, as soon as next year.
"You take your turn," Crofts said philosophically. "We
had our turn."