Friday, November 4, 2005

Sun Valley gears up for open election

Five in race for two council seats

Express Staff Writer

The Sun Valley City Council election Tuesday, Nov. 8, will be conducted under the city's new open-seat election system, after a special vote decided the matter in May.

The at-large format invites five candidates to face off for two open City Council seats. The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Sun Valley City Hall, 81 Elkhorn Road, at the corner of Dollar Road and Elkhorn Road.

The Sun Valley election includes a slate of five candidates: Nils Ribi, Milt Adam and Dan Pincetich are challenging the incumbents, Ann Agnew and Kevin Laird.

Under the open-seat election system, all council candidates run against each other, competing for the same number of open seats. Those candidates who receive the most votes gain the seats up for consideration.

Previously, Sun Valley operated under a designated-seat election format, which asked the electorate to vote for candidates vying in individual races to fill two specific, numbered seats on the council. The seats each carry a four-year term.

Ann Agnew

Incumbent candidate Agnew, 66, was elected to the council in November 2002. She currently serves as the council president. A full-time resident since 1996, Agnew works as an architect with Ketchum-based firm Boss and Agnew Architects.

Agnew served on the 2005 Comprehensive Plan Update Steering Committee and voted in favor of the city's guiding land-use document.

In the last year, she voted in support of the city's affordable housing policies. She said she continues to endorse the ordinances and will work to broaden their effectiveness.

"What we have going forward is really the implementation of the things we have been working on over the last four years," Agnew said.

If re-elected to the council, Agnew said she would seek to:

· Determine whether to transfer density off of the Penny Hill site, at the intersection of Sun Valley and Saddle roads, and establish the design scheme for the city's five-acre parcel, with guidance from professionals and the community.

· Maintain a regional view for government, emphasizing the importance of housing and transportation issues as valley-wide efforts.

· View the health of Sun Valley Co. as an important issue for the community.

Kevin Laird

Incumbent candidate Laird, 57, is seeking a fifth term on the council. A 27-year resident of Sun Valley, Laird works in general construction and as a painting contractor. He is a real estate agent with RE/MAX of Sun Valley.

During the last year, Laird split his support of the city's affordable housing policies. He voted in favor of one ordinance that mandates workforce housing as a matter of public policy. In a vote for the second component, Laird abstained from voting on an ordinance that links workforce housing to nearly all new developments.

In his bid for council, he said the government could promote housing by offering tax credits, density bonuses and providing land for projects.

Laird voted against the city of Sun Valley's 2005 Comprehensive Plan Update.

During his tenure on the council, Laird has served as council president, fire commissioner, police commissioner, KART board commissioner and on the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau board. His platform rests on his prior experience.

As a council member, he would aim to:

· Move density away from Penny Hill. He said the appropriate location should be determined by Sun Valley Co. and then presented to the city for evaluation.

· Convert the five-acre parcel to a multi-use park. He does not support housing on the back section of the property.

·  Change zoning ordinances to complete the comprehensive plan process.

Nils Ribi

Ribi, 50, is president of Ribi Corp., a venture capital firm. He is a 17-year resident of Sun Valley.

Ribi is the chairman of the Sun Valley Planning and Zoning Commission and served on the 2005 Comprehensive Plan Update Committee.

Serving on the P&Z, Ribi voted in favor of recommending that the City Council adopt both Workforce Housing Ordinances. He supports the ordinances and other solutions including regional efforts and a real estate transfer tax to fund workforce housing.

He also supported the 2005 Comprehensive Plan Update and is determined to implement the plan.

As a council member, he would be committed to:

· Move density away from Penny Hill and out of the city's entrance lands, if possible. If the move proves impossible, he proposes to cluster and set back housing to preserve view corridors.

· Protect natural resources, hillsides and open space, with a vision for the five-acre parcel to remain open. He is against residential uses on the back section of the parcel.

· Explore consolidation opportunities that benefit taxpayers and response times.

Milt Adam

Adam, 70, is a retired mechanical design engineer at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois and Idaho. This is his third bid for a Sun Valley City Council seat.

In the spring of 2005, Adam organized Sun Valley's initiative petition to restore open-seat elections.

He has served as a longtime president of the Atelier Condominiums Association and as a board member of Idaho-Falls-based Community Hospital Charitable Foundation.

As a City Council member, he would work to:

· Move development rights off of Penny Hill across Saddle Road, to the northwest corner of Sun Valley Road and Saddle Road.

· Establish a park on the city's five-acre parcel in the style of Ketchum's Memory Park, with large green areas, clumps of trees, benches, a restroom facility and no housing.

· Form a single transportation provider for all public transportation needs in Blaine County.

· Move ahead with affordable housing efforts by creating a joint venture with Ketchum and forming private partnerships. He is a long-time advocate of affordable housing, who supports the city's ordinances.

Dan Pincetich

Pincetich, 58, worked as Sun Valley city administrator from August 2000 through April 2003. He is a four-year resident of Sun Valley.

He had a longtime career in city management, including posts in Half Moon Bay, Capitola, and Pacifica, Calif. Pincetich believes his professional experience would benefit the city.

"I believe I will bring better focus and less use of the consultants on these various processes and decisions over the next few years," Pincetich said.

As a council member, he would strive to:

· Move development rights out of the Gateway, transferring the density to the land stretching from the Sun Valley Gun Club to the Sun Valley Village core area.

· Create more than a passive park on the city's five-acre parcel. He said the rear portion could have a higher-intensity use, though he does not "yet" support residential uses.

· Maintain city services without consolidation.

· Approach affordable housing with a regional view. He calls the existing housing ordinances "OK" as an initial start.

· Promote fiscal integrity.

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