It’s been a great local political season.
With 15 candidates running for city offices in Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley,
the cities have enjoyed politics in abundance. Residents will get what they
elect. It’s imperative not to drop out on Election Day and avoid the polls.
Races in the valley are frequently won or lost by a mere handful of votes—every
vote is important.
The Mountain Express throws in its two
cents every election season with endorsements. The endorsements are based on
candidates’ public statements and interviews printed in this newspaper.
The Express looked for credible leaders
with knowledge of city government and planning and zoning mechanisms. We looked
for support for the following:
1) Control of sprawl by containing
population densities within cities,
2) Mass transit to relieve traffic
3) Creation of affordable housing to
keep working families in the valley,
4) Spending local-option tax money to
5) Creation of livable, pedestrian
friendly communities with well-maintained services and parks, and
6) Financial good sense.
Susan McBryant is the clear choice in the race that has become a grudge
match between her and the former mayor who walked away from the office when
facing allegations of sexual harassment from city staff. He then changed his
mind—too late. The issue in this race is largely leadership style. McBryant has
steered the city with a confident hand, calmed choppy political waters, and has
the city back on track in dealing with issues that include burgeoning growth,
the airport, a potential golf course subdivision development and the economy.
Ketchum City Council
has ridden out the storms of City Hall, but
always bobs to the top. He’s fearless in the face of opposition and tenacious in
his desire to represent Ketchum well. He was the sole vote against approval of
employee raises until the city works out its budget problems. He rejected a
large hotel proposal the first time around, but approved it when it was scaled
down and re-designed. He’s pragmatic, not starry-eyed, about the prospect of a
new City Hall. He has supported initiatives that make the city livable and may
yet keep it from becoming just another hollow shell.
brings the knowledge gained on the planning
and zoning commission to this seat. Such experience is key in a city grappling
with downtown development, neighborhood, community housing and parking issues.
He’s committed to fixing the city’s missing sidewalks. Strong’s business
experience is a plus for a city in need of balancing its budget. His low-key
style could smooth some of the council’s rough edges.
Sun Valley mayor
is the choice in a race that may leave Sun
Valley voters with no mayor to represent them in negotiations with the company
that wants to redevelop Elkhorn—a big and potentially controversial project.
Latham Williams acknowledges a clear conflict of interest on any issue involving
CG Elkhorn because his wife is a real estate broker whose company holds an
exclusive contract to represent the development. Trouble is, Thorson’s
son-in-law is a Realtor at the same company. The relationship may not qualify as
a conflict of interest under the law, but it will be next to impossible for the
public to see the difference. So, that leaves voters to distinguish between the
two on matters of judgment. William’s clintstennett.com fiasco spanned more than
a year. He may have cleaned it up only two weeks ago, but he still left
ownership of a state senator’s name unclear. Thorson’s candidacy offers the city
a clean start with someone dedicated solely to good city management, clear city
development policies, and public meetings held at times that are accessible even
to people with jobs.
Seat 1: Matt Colesworthy
has the edge in this race because he
advocates active pursuit of several kinds of affordable housing as well as a
valley-wide transit system. Blair Boand has experience on the Planning and
Zoning Commission, but would limit housing to commercial developments and is
enthusiastic mostly about the possibility of a jitney service in Ketchum.
Otherwise the two are on the same page.
Seat 2: Incumbent Lud Renick
ran unopposed for this seat when he was
elected, so he was essentially an unknown quantity. Known now is his support for
tourism, community housing within Sun Valley (a previously unmentionable subject
there), control of hillside development and open space between Ketchum and Sun
Valley. However, Renick should take a page from opponent Milt Adam’s book and
rethink the idea of supporting a jitney service in Ketchum, where Sun Valley