Commissioner candidates discuss growth, transportation issues
By TRAVIS PURSER
Express Staff Writer
During the Blaine County Democratic forum held last week in Hailey, the
four candidates for county commissioner hammered hard on some predictable
themesgrowth, transportation, McHanville, open spaceand touched on a
hodgepodge of unlikely topics, such as the promotion of beaver populations to repair
Ketchum-based lawyer Andy Parnes organized the forum as an opportunity for
candidates to communicate their platform ideas to voters and for voters to ask candidates
About 30 people gathered Thursday at the Blaine County Senior Center in
Hailey to participate in the event. Beginning at 7 p.m., north county challengers Sally
Donart and Sarah Michael, south county challenger Rob Peck and south county incumbent
Dennis Wright gave their opening remarks, followed by an extensive question and answer
First elected in 1996, Wright, said he and the two other commissioners
currently in officeMary Ann Mix and Leonard Harlighave formed an
"honest" and "parallel" bond with each other that should be maintained
by his reelection.
Wright said he and the other commissioners have focused on solving
land-use problems, and that should continue.
"We believe very strongly in protecting open space and agriculture,
while making development provide a good product," Wright said. "I think the
future is going to hold a lot more of the same."
Sally Donart, 73, is a Ketchum-based psychotherapist who has had a long
history of involvement with the Democratic Party, even though she has never been elected
to public office. Most recently, she has been the Democratic Party precinct captain in
Donart said any decisions she makes as a commissioner would be guided by a
strong sense of "stewardship," a word, she said, Websters Dictionary
defines as "the responsibility to manage life and property with proper regard to the
rights of others."
Like other candidates, Donart said she was most concerned about growth,
highway, McHanville and open space issues.
Concerning transportation, Donart said, "I would like to work toward
finding a combination of highway utilization plus incentives and rewards for both
employers and south county employees to initiate volunteer car pooling and/or van
Rob Peck, a 48-year-old Carey farmer, appealed to voters with his status
as a native of the county.
"I didnt come here," he said. "I was born here."
As a farmer and parent to 10 children (five of his own, and five of his
dead brothers) Peck said he harbors a deep sense of "fiscal
responsibility," adding, however, "Im tight, but Im not a
Bringing a not-often-seen perspective to the open-space issue, Peck said
farmers in the south county resist developing their land, but economic pressures often
make it necessary. Therefore, Peck said, he wants to protect farmers property
"I dont want to see subdivisions, and neither do they,"
Peck said. "And yet, there are economic concerns that are reality."
Sarah Michael, 53, is the president of the Nordic and Backcountry Skiers
Alliance of Idaho. She has spent much of her life in both the Wood River Valley and in
California, where she has been a consultant to the Legislatures transportation
committee and has managed state transportation and energy programs.
Michael said she plans to focus on growth issues if elected commissioner,
focusing in particular on implementing transferable development rights (TDRs), which are
designed to protect open space.
"My biggest concern is that growth is fragmenting us," she said,
"not pulling us together. If we work together, we can solve problems."