determine commissioner race
Express Staff Writer
County voters go to the polls during the May 28 primary, they will choose
their south county commissioner for the next four years. With the
commission race set to end in less than two weeks, the two candidates,
both Democrats, are working to distinguish themselves from each other.
Wright, the incumbent, and challenger James Super have similar ideas about
one of the biggest issues in Blaine County—land-use planning. They both
stress the need for preserving agricultural land and other open space by
concentrating development in and around cities.
of a proposed ordinance that would allow higher density development away
from cities in exchange for affordable housing and a proposal that would
preserve open space by allowing development rights to be sold would be
affected by the candidates’ visions for land use.
candidates also say they support efforts to create a regional public
fiscal responsibility, but have different ideas about what that means.
Super, challenging six-year incumbent Wright, said the county government
needs an administrator to handle the commission’s bureaucratic duties
and allow commissioners to spend more time addressing policy and the
concerns of constituents.
however, said he doesn’t perceive a need for an administrator, which the
county doesn’t currently have. Commissioners should remain involved with
the bureaucracy so they can understand policy, he said.
election determines which candidate from each political party will run in
the Nov. 5 general election. But because only two Democrats are running
for the south county seat, the race will be determined during the primary.
No Republican filed for the position and the deadline for write-in
candidates was Tuesday.
throughout the county cast ballots for the south county seat. Even though
the three seats of the commission are divided regionally, each
commissioner makes decisions, frequently involving ordinances and
development applications, that affect the entire county.
served on both the Bellevue City Council and as county commissioner. He
said Monday that this is the last time he will seek re-election.
to Blaine County in 1997 from Emmett, where he served for six years on the
backcountry outfitter and guide who lives with his wife and children south
of Bellevue, would hold his first elected office in Blaine County, if
elected. Super, who ran as an Independent, lost to Wright in the 2000
high taxes are a major reason so many farmers and ranchers are choosing to
subdivide and sell their land. State law dictates the tax rate, but Super
said he would encourage and support any proposed changes to the state tax
code that would help agriculture.
would support increasing the number of county employees, if that would
help make the county government more responsive to the public. During his
recent campaigning, which he said has involved mostly talking to residents
door-to-door and by telephone, one of the more common complaints he said
he heard is that county government is unresponsive to the public.
how an increased number of staff could be funded, he said, "You can
at least look at it and plan for it."
he has not heard any complaints that county government is unresponsive,
but if he did, he would address each complaint individually.
project or issue that is currently before the commission, Wright’s first
concern is almost always money. He wants permanent funding in place before
public transportation begins. He said Blaine Manor is spending up to 60
percent more money than it should, even though the nursing home’s
management has stated it is running on a shoestring budget. Wright stopped
short of saying he would advocated closing the home, if its financial
problem cannot be solved.