Voters in Ketchum and Sun Valley face pivotal choices in next Tuesday's election. In Ketchum, voters must decide whether the city will move forward with optimism and innovation or remain mired in dead-end dysfunction. They must decide whether to continue to travel a low road pocked with character assassination and whisper campaigns—or to set the city on a higher path.
In Sun Valley, the election will determine whether the city continues to grow out of isolation and to engage the rest of the valley in planning for the future—or to lapse back into a country-club coma.
The choice of candidates is never easy. This year's endorsements were the most difficult the Express has ever contemplated because the cities are at tipping points where mistakes may be irreparable.
Four years ago, Ketchum looked to a fresh start with a new mayor and council. Yet, what looked so promising at the beginning dissolved into nasty internecine warfare led by Mayor Ed Simon. The city's energy and money were misspent on misplaced allegations, investigations and settlements. Critical issues went begging.
It's time Ketchum voters demanded a higher standard of government based on fact, goodwill, good-natured disagreement and problem solving.
We looked for candidates with the ability to work well with others.
We looked long and hard at candidates' platforms. We concluded that development of workforce housing in Ketchum is the key to its future. It will bring a larger workforce, infuse cash into businesses, restore a sense of community, and create a larger pool of leaders. It will return life to a town that's rapidly losing it.
We believe new hotels are also critical to the city's economic future.
That said, here are the Idaho Mountain Express's endorsements.
For Mayor of Ketchum
Randy Hall: He has comported himself well in the face of a smear campaign—a new low in local politics—choreographed by incumbent Mayor Ed Simon. Hall is poised to lead the city into workforce housing solutions that have worked in other mountain towns. He has called for revisiting the Ketchum budget, which he voted against, to find savings to devote to things like sidewalks and lighting. He's enthusiastic about the moratorium and forging agreement on downtown design to improve business. One misgiving: Hall needs to quit standing in the way of hotel development or risk destroying the town he professes to love.
For Ketchum City Council
Ron Parsons: In a short time on the council, his innate good sense, calm manner, and experience in planning and zoning have fostered teamwork that was previously absent. His continuing presence should help the council to move forward with goodwill and wisdom. He is quiet, but firm in support of workforce housing, a revitalized downtown, and building a lively and livable community. He's also tuned into what makes local business tick.
Baird Gourlay: This incumbent should get another go on a progressive team. He helped sort out a tangled city budget. As a retailer, he supports housing, downtown improvements and the moratorium that will give the city a chance to renew itself. He brings experience that could help the city chart a healthier path.
For Sun Valley City Council
We looked for candidates who will help Mayor Jon Thorson along the road that has brought the city a well-crafted master plan, opened the door to workforce housing and engaged the whole valley in finding solutions to common problems.
Ann Agnew: She has been a thoughtful force on the council. She's pragmatic and comes to the table willing to set aside preconceived notions in favor of carefully crafted solutions that work for a majority. She supported the plan for workforce housing, a new comprehensive plan, protection of hillsides and the night sky. She has stood tough on difficult zoning issues, but remains open to new ideas for the city's entrance on Sun Valley Road.
Nils Ribi: Voters would be wise to accept its Planning and Zoning Commission chairman's offer to serve. As one of the architects of the city's new plan, Ribi is uniquely qualified to help lead the city in implementing it. He's part of the new guard in Sun Valley who could build on the city's emerging role as a leader in bringing sensible solutions to bear on valley-wide problems without sacrificing the things that make Sun Valley, Sun Valley.