Friday, March 17, 2006

Four vie for three council seats

Pizza and Politics forum set for Monday night in Bellevue


By JASON KAUFFMAN
Express Staff Writer

Candidates for Bellevue City Council say issues related to three pending annexation applications, the city's budget woes and economic development are the biggest issues the city will face in the coming years.

On Monday, April 3, Bellevue residents will go to the polls to vote for who should sit in three City Council seats up for election. Candidates for the positions include incumbents Vivian Ivie, Jon Wilkes and Steve Fairbrother, as well as challenger Beth Callister, a member of the Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission.

To Callister, a first-time council candidate, the top two issues Bellevue faces are the proposed annexations and economic development.

In terms of the annexations, Callister feels the City Council needs to have as much information as possible before it can make a well-informed decision.

With that information in hand, the council will be able to weigh the true costs and benefits of the annexations, Callister said.

"If the costs outweigh the benefits, the city shouldn't annex," she said.

Development will likely take place on the properties proposed for annexation whether they are annexed or not, Callister said. She believes bringing the properties into the city would give the city more control over how the development takes place.

For incumbent City Council candidate Vivian Ivie, the proposed annexations and issues related to the city's aging water and sewer system get her vote as the most pressing matters.

Annexation applicants will have to prove that they will provide a benefit to the city before she'll vote to annex them, Ivie said.

"I have to take care of the people of Bellevue first," she said.

Ivie also said the city needs more information before it can make a decision on whether to annex properties in Slaughterhouse Canyon and south of town.

"I want to see what it is going to cost us. We haven't seen a thing on them."

In addition to the annexations, Bellevue's budget woes are a top concern for incumbent candidate Steve Fairbrother.

"It's becoming more and more acute," Fairbrother said.

Fairbrother cited three main reasons why Bellevue is considering the proposed annexations: the city's budgetary woes, determining what the valley looks like in the long term, and being able to control what happens on the city's borders.

"If it (growth) goes in the county we still get the impacts, but we'll get no revenue."

The annexations could result in a financial windfall for Bellevue, Fairbrother said.

The City Council has much to consider before it can make a decision on the annexations, he said.

"It has to be a significant benefit to Bellevue, and not just financial."

The fourth candidate for City Council, incumbent Jon Wilkes, could not be reached for comment before the press deadline.

Bellevue voters will have the opportunity to vote one of two ways: either absentee until 5 p.m. on March 31 or on the day of the election, April 3, from noon to 8 p.m. Those wishing to register to vote need to bring a photo identification and proof of Bellevue residency for at least 30 days. Voting will take place at Bellevue City Hall.

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Politics & Eats

Candidates for Bellevue City Council will present their platforms and answer questions from voters in a Pizza and Politics forum at 6 p.m. Monday, March 20, at Bellevue City Hall, 115 Pine St.

The public is invited to meet the candidates, ask them questions and partake of a variety of pizzas provided by the Idaho Mountain Express. The event—moderated by Express publisher Pam Morris—will run about an hour and a half.




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