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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of October 29 - November 4, 2003


Thorson, Williams face off in Sun Valley debate

‘Pizza and Politics’ event draws many voters, many questions

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 been ignored."

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," he said.

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 community."

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 question.

In returning to the issue, Thorson said timely passage of a Hillside Development Ordinance could have prevented the Crown Ranch controversy.



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