Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Eaton relying on her city council experience

Express Staff Writer

Tammy Eaton has served on the Bellevue City Council for six years. Photo by David N. Seelig

Four Democrats—Tammy Eaton, Carl B. Johnston, Larry Schoen and James B. Super—are battling in the May 23 primary for the Blaine County Commission's District 1 seat to represent the southern end of the county.

Dale Ewersen is the lone Republican vying for the seat and will therefore automatically advance to the Nov. 7 general election. Dennis Wright, who's retiring, has occupied the position since 1996.

All registered voters, not just those who live in District 1, can vote in the election.

The District 3 (north county) county commissioner seat also will be open this fall. The seat has been held by Sarah Michael, chair of the commission, since 2000. Michael's being challenged by Mickey Garcia, of Ketchum, who will also breeze past the primary since he's running as an Independent.

District 2 County Commissioner Tom Bowman was elected to a four-year term in 2004.

Tammy Eaton has served on the Bellevue City Council for six years, during which time the small city at the mouth of the Wood River Valley has undergone tremendous change.

"There has been a paradigm shift that has occurred in Bellevue with the way things used to be," said Eaton, who moved to Bellevue from Massachusetts 11 years ago. "Bellevue has grown exponentially and we've worked with just about every issue."

Because of that, Eaton feels her experiences on the city council "set me apart from all of the other candidates."

Married, with an 8-year-old daughter, Eaton worked as the civil administrator for the Blaine County Sheriff's Department for 10 years. She is devoted to her community and feels smart regional planning is the key to a successful future. Three years ago she enrolled in the Northwest Community Development and Planning Institute based in Boise. She'll graduate in July.

"If we don't take regional approaches then we are wasting our resources," said Eaton, who also has degrees in political science and paralegal studies. "I don't think taxpayers want us to waste our money.

"We need to work together as a community."

Like the other candidates, Eaton treasures the county's natural resources, open space and agricultural land.

"The reason we all live here is for the backyard attached to our communities, not our homes," she said.

While she wants open space to remain protected, she also believes there needs to be a balance point.

The 2025 planning process, which the county commissioners will begin review of next week (a workshop will be held tonight), has some property owners crying foul. Many feel their property rights will be violated if the zoning ordinances pass.

"With anything we do there has to be a balance," Eaton said. "We will not satisfy every single need."

Eaton said one of the greatest challenges for the Bellevue council has been "balancing the needs of the community with our budget."

She feels the county needs to take a harder look at future costs, particularly in regards to services.

"The 2025 goals and objectives are important, and I agree with the level of planning that needs to be done," Eaton said. "But I'm disappointed...we went into the moratorium because of the cost of services (with future development) and when we come out of the moratorium in July we're not going to have any better stronghold on the cost of services."

Eaton said she's developed strong working relationships with other city leaders over the past six years.

"(Hopefully) I get to take that with me to the commission and foster that growth."

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