Friday, June 17, 2005

Charlat throws hat into mayoral race

Former City Council member challenges Simon

Express Staff Writer

Former Ketchum City Council member Maurice Charlat has announced his candidacy for mayor of Ketchum, taking on the incumbent, Mayor Ed Simon, who has announced he will seek another term.

"I think right now is a very critical time in the development of this community," Charlat said Thursday. "I think the experience I bring in from Ketchum City Hall and various other groups I sit on really equips me to handle things. The agendas I set are really proactive rather than reactive."

Charlat, 72, served a four-year term on the City Council between 2000 and 2004 but did not seek re-election.

He has been a full-time resident of Ketchum since 1998, although his connection to the area goes back farther: His family used to own the old Colonnade building on Sun Valley Road.

Charlat is a former executive in the food industry. Positions he held include senior vice president for marketing and sales at California Canners and Growers in Northern California; vice chairman and chief operating officer of food broker Billings-Horn in Southern California; and president of the consumer division of American Can Company in Connecticut. He was also active in various business-related associations during his career.

Among major issues facing the city of Ketchum, Charlat said, are the potential annexations of the River Run area, at the base of Bald Mountain, and Warm Springs Ranch, northwest of downtown.

Proposals to establish a "town square" on a city lot immediately south of Giacobbi Square and to build a new city hall are also important considerations that may confront city leaders, he said.

"As we attempt to improve the downtown core, the capital improvement program and planning there will be critical to any effort we launch," he said.

Charlat said his approach to the office would differ from Simon's in one significant way.

"I think there's a need to do a better job communicating," Charlat said. "I'm a very good communicator. I think I can improve communication between the City Council and the mayor's office ... between the mayor's office and other cities up and down the valley, and between the mayor's office and the electorate."

Although he said in 2003 that he was not getting an "intellectual reward" while on the City Council, he said this week that he discovered a few things about local governance while holding that seat.

"I learned that the council best operates in an atmosphere of full disclosure and active leadership," he said.

Charlat currently serves on the Ketchum Area Rapid Transit board, is active in the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau, was on the now-disbanded site selection committee for the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority, and is active with local residents in watching over the Warms Spring Ranch annexation process. He also serves as chairman of the Blaine County Republican Central Committee.

He is a veteran of the Korean War and is commander of the David Ketchum American Legion Post.

"I think I bring a level of organizational background and communications ability to directly and positively affect the future of Ketchum," he said.

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