Keeping a sense of community in a resort town beset by growth is a top priority for Ketchum mayoral candidate Randy Hall.
Hall, who is currently serving as president of the City Council, spoke to a gathering of supporters, media representatives and interested citizens Friday afternoon, declaring his intention to take on incumbent Mayor Ed Simon in November's city election.
"I'm running for mayor because I feel very strongly about the problems associated with growth and the things growth is doing to our sense of community," he said.
Former Ketchum Councilman Maurice Charlat has also announced his candidacy.
Hall voiced support for the city's comprehensive plan and said he wants more funds to be directed for capital improvements.
"We need to put a greater emphasis on sidewalks, curbs and gutters so when tourists come here they can feel safe walking through town," he said. "One of the reasons I didn't vote to approve the budget was it didn't have enough money for capital improvements."
He said if elected, he would zero in on growth issues and help make the city more pedestrian friendly.
"First, development will complement our quality of life, not compromise it," he said. "Second, growth will pay its own way so Ketchum residents don't."
Traffic and the gridlock experienced by rush-hour motorists is another important issue for Hall.
"I will move this issue to the top of the list," he said. "I will work not just locally, but regionally."
His cited his qualifications for this task, including being a board member of Ketchum Area Rapid Transit and chairman of Wood River Regional Transportation Committee.
He also is the traffic and emergency services director for the Dalai Lama Organizing Committee, assisting in planning the spiritual leader's September visit.
Several comments from audience members focused on the proposed Warm Springs Ranch redevelopment, which stalled earlier this month following the pull out of the hotel partner.
Applicant Sun Valley Ventures and developers said they were reassessing their next move after the City Council said they wanted more studies on the project.
Hall stood by his comments during the public hearings, and said that projects such as the Warm Springs Ranch development take time to review.
"By its very nature a planned unit development is a negotiation," he said. "The people you hire to do the job sit down and negotiate what is in the best interest (of the community). Does the benefit we're giving—in any PUD—equal the benefit we are receiving? That is where the rub is."
Hall established a permanent home in Ketchum in 1978, but was introduced to the area at the age of 8.
"My love affair started in 1965 when I rode the train up from Southern California," he said. "I loved this place then and I love it now."
He served three years as a Ketchum Planning & Zoning commissioner and has been on the Ketchum City Council since 1997.
Hall, 46, also addressed Friday his previous business ventures, including the closing of his Ketchum restaurant, China Pepper, in 2002.
"I quit drinking," he said. "I made a personal choice eight years ago. Once I quit, my perspective on life started to change and I no longer felt connected to that kind of business. I'm feeling so much better about the kinds of decisions I'm making. I, we, would not be standing here right now ... if I hadn't made that decision."
He described his management style as people oriented and inclusive of varying viewpoints.
"I'm really a consensus builder," he said. "Government actions and decisions must be collaborative. Branches need to work cohesively. That's the challenge: to bring diametric opinions together to find a solution."
"I've learned a lot from other candidates, some good, some bad," he added. "I listen intently to others because I don't have all the answers. I will have an open door, and an open-book policy. I pledge to put respect back into city government."