Wednesday, October 26, 2005

In election season, voters aren't all seeing red

Some Ketchum residents feel problems are few

Express Staff Writer

As political hopefuls embark on the final weeks of shaking voters' hands, debating the issues and discussing some of the more unpleasant aspects of running a government, there's one thing some Ketchum residents want them to know: This is a wonderful place to live.

A sampling of Ketchum residents Tuesday, Oct. 25, showed that although there is dissatisfaction with some aspects of the city, most people are delighted to call this hamlet home. Nonetheless, they have high hopes that four candidates running for City Council and five running for mayor will take their jobs seriously.

"I don't think there's any problems," said resident Gwen Feggestad, who moved from Minnesota one year ago. "I think the town is wonderful. I was welcomed very quickly, which is nice when you move into a new community. Sometimes you feel like you don't fit. On a scale of one to 10, this place is a 10."

She admitted that people drive too fast and can be rude, but when she makes the trip between downtown and East Fork Road, she's pleasantly distracted from other motorists' road rage by the scenery.

"I still marvel when I drive in at the beauty of this area," she said.

Jodi Sanders, who works at River Ranch Clothing Co., talked of growth and balancing locals' needs with tourists' concerns.

"I'm concerned about people moving south," she said. "We had an amazing summer and even early fall. But we pride ourselves as a local's retailer. We get a lot of local support. But Ketchum is supported by the tourists' dollars."

Another of her concerns involves maintaining the community feel that makes her so comfortable in her surroundings.

"I love the camaraderie at the post office. I love going to Atkinsons'," she said. "I love driving down the street and waving to cars. My friends from out of town always say, 'You knew who that was?' I tell them everybody knows everybody."

Artist Stan Acker doesn't plan to vote in this municipal election, saying he trusts all the candidates to do the right thing for the city.

"I figure Ketchum is well managed," he said. "All the candidates seem nice and I'm sure they're concerned for the city."

If anything draws him into the political arena, it's the intangibles.

"Ideas on community spirit are more of my nature than planning and zoning issues," he said.

"I think Ketchum is perfect the way it is," he added. "I don't mind anything."

Part-time Ketchum resident Sarah West was relaxing in Memory Park Tuesday morning, enjoying the last few days of warm weather.

"I love the area, that it's a mountain town," she said. "I love the recreational opportunities it affords me. (But) it's changing so much to a condo haven and that we're losing parts of downtown."

She said the downtown could benefit from more park space and that she sometimes heads to Hailey to utilize that city's green open spaces.

A town square appeals to West.

"I love that kind of stuff," she said. "I think it adds charm to the community. It brings a bigger sense of community, which we don't really have."

She isn't bothered by the idea of a moratorium, which the city enacted Oct. 11, although she wishes Ketchum leaders had been more proactive on downtown's issues.

"I question the length of time. It's maybe a little long," she said. "Maybe they should have had a game plan prior."

She hopes that the city looks far into the future, "not just the next two years or five years or 10 years, but long term," she said.

One of her greatest concerns is workforce housing, and making it available to low-income wage earners.

"It just doesn't seem like there's affordable housing in Ketchum," she said. "The units that are sold are purchased by middle-income people. They need to address certain income levels."

In the race for mayor of Ketchum are the incumbent, Ed Simon, frequent local government critic Mickey Garcia, Council President Randy Hall, artist and political newcomer Dan Stein, and former Ketchum Councilman Maurice Charlat.

Four contenders are vying for two City Council seats: current Ketchum Councilmen Baird Gourlay and Ron Parsons, Planning & Zoning Commissioner Anne Corrock and former City Councilwoman Nan Emerick.

The election is Nov. 8.

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