Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Councilwoman Ann Agnew steps down

After more than five years on City Council, she plans to remain an involved citizen

Express Staff Writer

Express file photo Sun Valley City Councilwoman Ann Agnew steps down this week. Agnew said her new status as a part-time resident of Sun Valley inhibits her ability to ?do my job as my personal standards require.?

After serving more than five years on the Sun Valley City Council, Ann Agnew is stepping down this week. The city is prepared to accept her resignation during Thursday's meeting.

Sun Valley Mayor Jon Thorson said his relationship with Agnew has been "one of working with a friend and of mutual respect."

"Ann has a gift for openness and honesty and a gentle and kind demeanor that allows her to bring forth well thought-out opinions in the midst of excitement," he said.

In a May 8 letter addressed to the mayor and council, Agnew said her resignation was due to personal circumstances that have changed over the past year.

"I am now more of a part-time than full-time Sun Valley resident," she stated, referring to the time she now spends in San Diego. "And, as such, I do not feel I can continue to do my job as my personal standards require."

She concluded her letter by expressing her desire to participate in the work of the city as an involved citizen.

The mayor and council members reacted to her announcement with disappointment.

"I want to express, on behalf of the City Council and Sun Valley community, our deep appreciation for her service and high regard for the gifts of wisdom, insight and wit which she has bestowed on the City Council meetings over past years," Thorson said in a written statement released the same day. "It is with regret I will ask City Council to accept her resignation."

In an interview on Tuesday, Thorson elaborated, saying that though he is sorry to lose Agnew as a member of the council, he is glad to see her moving forward and enjoying life.

"She went through a long and painful struggle with her husband's cancer," Thorson said. "One week after he passed away, she went to the doctor for a sore throat that had been bothering her and was diagnosed with throat cancer.

"She then went through her own treatment and recovery process and she came back from that, and, you know, she never complained. She always had a positive attitude. She is now spending a lot of time in San Diego and I am glad to see her happy."

After taking office in 2002, Agnew played a pivotal role in the completion of the city's Comprehensive Plan update, master plan development requirements, general property tax support for workforce housing, new workforce housing requirements and energy and water conservation improvements at City Hall.

In addition, Thorson said, Agnew "took a lead role with the City Council in progressively reviewing and approving the Sun Valley Co.'s new Gun Club Master Plan and golf course expansion."

"Councilperson Agnew has been a leader for the city of Sun Valley for the past five plus years. Her professionalism, commitment to fairness and the highest ethical standards are skills and personal characteristics which today help guide the decisions of the City Council and define effective and responsive public service."

Thursday's meeting agenda states that Thorson will ask the council to appoint Dave Chase to fill Agnew's position through November. The agenda states that the mayor and City Council welcome comments from the public.

Chase is co-owner of SunValleyOnline, an Internet news and blog site based in Hailey, and was recently appointed to the Ketchum Community Development Corporation. He is a partner with Altus Alliance, a venture-consulting firm based in Seattle that specializes in the technology industry. He volunteers as a strategic advisor to Climate Solutions, a non-partisan, economic development nonprofit focused on energy. Chase has also worked in marketing and executive roles for Microsoft.

Agnew has two years remaining on her term. However, if appointed, Chase will serve only until November, when the next municipal election occurs. If he seeks election to the council, he would have to run as an at-large candidate in the Nov. 6 election.

Under Sun Valley's open-seat election format, candidates who receive the most votes gain the seats up for consideration. The at-large format is designed in part to invite debate among all candidates about the actions of the current council, including the voting records of incumbents.

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