local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 public meetings

 previous edition

 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info
 classifieds info
 internet info
 sun valley central
 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs
Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


Primary Election: Mix v. Bowman and Femling v. England

Candidates square off in final debate

Express Staff Writer

Blaine County Commission and Blaine County Sheriff hopefuls converged on stage last week to hash out their positions for the benefit of county voters.

Blaine County Commission candidates Mary Ann Mix, the incumbent, and Tom Bowman, the challenger, smiled for the camera last week. Both are Democrats and no Republican filed for the District 2 seat. So, Primary Election voters will decide Tuesday who sits in it next year. Express photo by David N. Seelig

The event was sponsored by Citizens for Smart Growth and filmed so it could be televised this week on KSVT’s program "Perspective." About 40 local residents attended the event at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey on Thursday, May 13. A panel of four county residents posed questions to the candidates.

Blaine County Commission candidates Mary Ann Mix and Tom Bowman, both Democrats, covered an array of topics during their hour-long portion of the debate. They discussed regional planning, sustainable planning, the county’s comprehensive plan, water conservation, airport issues, Highway 75, affordable housing and mass transit, to name a few.

Differences emerged on several issues. Notably, Bowman was emphatic that he could help things move along more quickly than under Mix’s purview. Mix generally displayed her vast knowledge of local issues and day-to-day operations at the county courthouse. She also drew on her experience from the numerous meeting chambers where she sits on a number of local boards.

When asked about the county’s progress with a night sky ordinance that would limit the amount of light that county residents could emit, Mix noted that the county is currently regulating light through its subdivision ordinance.

Bowman pointed out that the county P&Z completed work some years ago on a draft lighting ordinance.

"As I understand it, that thing’s ready to go," he said. "Get me elected. It will be done in four months."

On planning issues in general, Bowman said he could help the county to be more proactive.

"We got a cell-phone ordinance only after a tower was proposed. We got a berm ordinance only after a huge berm was proposed right on the highway," he said.

He called for a new staff member in the county planning department to help with a heavy workload.

Mix, on the other hand, touted the accomplishments the county has already made.

"We need to start small, and we have started small with our efforts on (police and fire) consolidated dispatch," she said, adding that the community needs to become more regionally oriented.

On the study of Highway 75, Mix said she would support whatever scientific data come from the ongoing study of the transportation corridor. Bowman said he supports a four-lane highway, "because we’re going to need it with the population that’s coming."

Another key difference between the candidates was on a proclamation the county commissioners issued last winter. The document made clear the commissioners’ unwavering opposition to war with Iraq.

For some county residents, that move crossed a line. Bowman sided with those who objected to the move. Mix vehemently defended the commission’s decision.

"National and international decisions affect Blaine County," she said. "I respectfully reserve the right to comment on them as a commissioner."

Bowman, on the other hand, said there are hundreds of other things the commission could have done that would have been a better expenditure of time.

"Did it make a difference? Probably not," he said. "On national security issues, I don’t think the county commissioners have any business representing this county."

Primary opponents for sheriff, incumbent Walt Femling and challenger Steve England, both Republicans, faced off on Emergency 911, consolidated dispatch, the need for a new county jail and ongoing security concerns in a prominent resort destination.

In a general sense, the two candidates agreed on the need for a new jail, for E-911 and for a consolidated dispatch center. They differed, however, on several sub-points.

Steve England Challenger sheriff candidate

England said he would like to fund a new jail by putting the issue to a committee of "non-biased taxpayers," before asking for public support in the form of a bond election.

Femling, on the other hand, said funding and construction of a new jail is not the sheriff’s issue. It is the responsibility of the Blaine County Commission. He opined nonetheless.

"We should only go to a vote if we want to raise taxes," he said. "I don’t want to raise taxes."

England attempted to corner Femling on several personnel issues. He charged there is one supervisor for every 2.4 employees in the 44-person department.

Jerry "Walt" Femling Incumbent sheriff candidate

"That’s a very, very disturbing ratio," he said. "I’d like to see it one (supervisor) to six or seven employees."

He also contended that none of the sheriff’s office employees speak Spanish in a community with a growing contingent of Spanish-speaking immigrants.

Femling countered.

"We have over 200 years of experience on our patrol side alone," he said. He said he hasn’t had a patrol officer leave the office for three or four years.

"Our team is intact," Femling said.


City of Ketchum

Formula Sports


Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.