Express primary election endorsements
Voters who go to the polls to vote in the
May 25 primary election will take sides in one of two political family fights
going on in the local Democratic and Republican parties.
Bellevue voters will decide whether to
raise property taxes.
Democrats will choose between two
candidates for the Board of Blaine County Commissioners. With no Republican
challenger on deck for the fall election, voters in the primary will decide who
will occupy that seat for the next four years.
The winner of the race for sheriff in the
Republican Primary will go on to face a Democratic challenger in the fall.
The newspaper’s endorsements are:
Bellevue tax increase: Vote yes.
This is wise and necessary if
residents want a safe and decent city to live in.
Bellevue’s budget is in desperate straits.
Thus, this desperate proposal to repair battering by stingy state restrictions
on budget increases. These have left the city to face the crying need for better
city services—water, police, fire, streets and the like—without enough money.
Potholes, recurring water problems, and a
police force spread too thin are evidence that the city’s annual budget of $1
million is not enough. Further evidence: In order to get its main fire engine
pumping, firefighters have to engage its power takeoff unit—the gears that drive
the pump--by getting underneath the chassis and whacking the gears with a
hammer. That’s unacceptable and a threat to the safety of Bellevue’s homes.
The tax increase is significant—between
$180 and $216 on the average Bellevue property. But Bellevue homeowners have
experienced significant increases in property values that should help offset the
modest $276,667 in new taxes that will be collected annually.
For Blaine County Commissioner:
Tom Bowman would bring needed change to the county. He has the knowledge, the
experience, and the vision to lead the county board out of its current reactive
posture on most issues and untangle it from debilitating webs of details.
For example, instead of "chasing growth,"
by enacting controls after installations of cell towers, berms, confined animal
feed operations, and wind towers are already in place, Bowman wants to plan for
them in advance. He also wants definitive development requirements to streamline
approvals and reduce lawsuits.
Other positions we like:
Affordable Housing: He wants to
reinvigorate the push for affordable housing by requiring a percentage of new
subdivisions to be devoted to affordable housing. He wants to revitalize the
Housing Authority and set goals for housing stocks.
Airport: He’s convinced it must be
moved out of Hailey. He wants to weigh the economic impacts on tourism before
determining a new location. He wants Hailey to have the final say on whether the
existing airport should remain open.
New Jail: He recognizes the need
and wants Hailey’s input on where it should be located.
Mass transit: He wants a new
highway designed to accommodate car pooling and mass transit as traffic
Carey: He sees a better economy
based on newly emerging businesses there.
County economy: He wants to prepare
for an eventual "post-development" economy.
County administrator: He favors
hiring one specifically to work on getting grants, human resource issues, and
consistent management, which could save money and free county commissioners to
work on larger policy questions.
Dark skies ordinance: He says it
should have been done by now.
Nursing Home: He wants planning for
a new location to be done in public.
For Blaine County Sheriff:
Vying for his fifth term, Walt Femling is the candidate with experience in this
He has successfully operated a perennially
under-funded, under-staffed department and faced growth pressures that would
have convinced anyone with less tenacity, skill, and regard for the valley to
depart long ago. All Blaine County voters should have the opportunity to assess
his fitness in the general election this fall.
He has reached out into the community
at-large. He has successfully sought grants and promoted the DARE and PAL
programs for kids.
He has a common-sense plan for
construction of a new jail to be built privately on county property and leased
back to the county. The plan will not increase property taxes.
Femling favors a technological fix that
will consolidate existing police and fire dispatch centers immediately, while
buying time for leaders to decide if, and where, a new consolidated dispatch
center should be located, and how it should be administered.