Thorson, Williams face off in Sun
‘Pizza and Politics’ event draws many
voters, many questions
By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer
The two candidates for the Sun Valley
mayor’s office expressed vastly different views last week on how they feel the
city has been managed during the last four years.
In the "Pizza and Politics" political
question-and-answer forum held in Sun Valley Wednesday, Oct. 22, mayoral
candidate Jon Thorson told approximately 100 members of the press and Sun Valley
electorate that he strongly disapproves of how the city has been administered.
"I’m interested in running a city for the citizens," he said. "Citizens have
Latham Williams, a member of the Sun
Valley City Council for the last four years and president of the panel since
2000, said he has been a key figure in maintaining a balanced city budget and
enacting ordinances that protect the public’s interests. "The race for mayor in
Sun Valley is a race about leadership," he said.
City Council Seat 1
The event, which was conducted by the
Idaho Mountain Express, also featured debates between two pairs of Sun Valley
citizens seeking designated seats on the Sun Valley City Council.
In the race for Seat 1 on the council,
Blair Boand, a city Planning and Zoning Commission member and partner in
Mountain Estates Property Management, is running for the open seat against
Matthew Colesworthy, a vice president at the A.G. Edwards investment firm.
Boand said his experience on the P&Z has
prepared him to make the difficult decisions that sometimes face members of the
City Council. "During my tenure on P&Z, I have made some tough decisions," he
said. "Some of the decisions were not popular with some of the developers."
Boand said he would foster "open and
frequent communication" with the public and would seek to enforce conditions of
land-use permits, such as those attached to the city’s approval of a new campus
for The Community School in Elkhorn.
Colesworthy said he would promote low-cost
housing that would be managed by the city and support the rights of landowners.
"I am for responsible growth," he said, noting that he was opposed to the
location of a public bike path along Morningstar Loop, in Elkhorn.
Colesworthy noted that he believes city
government could be run in a more "cost-effective" manner. He stressed that his
experience in the business world has provided him with the skills to participate
effectively in city government.
City Council Seat 2
The candidates for Seat 2 on the City
Council squared off in a notably friendly debate that was dominated by a
discussion of the city’s use of its "Five-Acre Parcel" on Sun Valley Road.
Challenger Milt Adam said he is seeking to
unseat incumbent Lud Renick to provide a "fresh face" on the council. Adam said
he would seek to cooperate with the city of Ketchum and Sun Valley Co. and to
limit "inappropriate" developments. "I will take my responsibilities seriously,"
Renick, who in 1999 ran unopposed for Seat
2, said he learned in the last four years how to cooperate effectively with
other city officials. "I’m a team player," he said.
He stressed that he has been "involved" in
city affairs, primarily by serving on numerous City Council committees. In
addition, Renick said, he has "never missed a City Council meeting" during his
tenure in office.
As for the Five-Acre Parcel, Renick said
he supports the city’s developing plan to maintain the site as open space and
use it occasionally for temporary events. Adam said he would like to see it as
an "open space," one which could possibly include a cemetery.
Mayor candidates face off
The debate between Thorson and Williams
was marked by a series of poignant questions and provocative assertions.
Thorson opened by saying he believes the
city "needs to do a better job" at meeting the challenges it faces. "It’s time
for some changes," he said. "I have no ambition, other than serving my
Williams led off by focusing on his record
and his experience in local government. He said he has been "part of a team that
has worked to preserve the quality of life in Sun Valley," has overseen approval
of four balanced budgets, and will seek to promote citizens’ interests in city
negotiations with Sun Valley Co. and the city of Ketchum.
In discussing the city’s handling of the
Five-Acre Parcel, Thorson was critical of the city’s decision to pursue
construction of an arts center on the site. Williams defended the city’s
actions, noting that public comment on the matter was solicited on 30 occasions
in recent years.
Mayor David Wilson, who is retiring from
his post, asked Thorson if his lack of experience in city government would limit
his ability to be an effective mayor. Thorson said he has a long history of
professional experience and community involvement that he could draw from. "I
think I am more than adequate for the job," Thorson said.
Conflict of interest?
Moments later, Williams was asked if he
anticipated encountering a conflict of interests when developer CG-Elkhorn
presents an application to the city to redevelop the site of the Elkhorn Hotel
with some 100 townhouses. CG-Elkhorn recently awarded a bid to Sun Valley Real
Estate—in which Williams’ wife Suzanne is a broker and partner—to manage sales
of the units.
"I would recuse myself from that
deliberation," Williams said.
Later, Thorson was critical of the city’s
decision to approve the controversial Phase 4 of Crown Ranch subdivision.
However, when Thorson was asked about whether controversial properties could be
rezoned, he said he did not have adequate knowledge of zoning laws to answer the
In returning to the issue, Thorson said
timely passage of a Hillside Development Ordinance could have prevented the
Crown Ranch controversy.