This year will mark the 40th ski season Sun Valley mayoral candidate Wayne Willich has spent on the slopes of Bald Mountain. This Nov. 6, Willich has his sights set on reaching the summit of the local political arena as well.
"My goal will be intense communication with the public and increasing awareness in the community over the issues we're facing," Willich said. "Sun Valley has some extremely successful and intelligent people living here. If we provide them with the necessary information and are then able to open up a dialogue, I feel city government will be far more efficient."
After graduating from Purdue University with a degree in aero-engineering, Willich, 68, spent more than three decades in the Seattle area as a Boeing Co. executive. In his spare time he worked to pioneer several medical products including a closed-circuit lung catheter that expels fluid from a patient's lungs while he or she is on an artificial respirator. The invention has dramatically reduced the risks involved and discomfort associated with patients on a respirator.
Willich also attended a post-graduate senior executive program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He and his wife, Christine, have made Sun Valley their permanent residence for the past 11 years.
While in the Seattle area, Willich participated in city government by volunteering with the Roads and Trails Department on Mercer Island. His role was to help mitigate the effects placed on the island's roadways as Interstate 90 was built.
"We worked on all street planning and how it would integrate into the construction of I-90," he said.
As for Sun Valley, Willich said he feels his time as a Boeing executive would be valuable in his role as mayor.
"In the private sector, everything is goal orientated and there is no reason city government can't be the run the same way," he said. "The question is, what is the proper role of the city? And I feel it is to work as closely with the public as possible."
Regional issues dominate the political landscape in Sun Valley with workforce housing, transportation and the role of Sun Valley Co. topping the list.
"I am in favor of affordable housing and the diversity it creates," he said. "I don't like monolithic cities."
Willich sees the current approach of the city as flawed.
"Cities should not be in the business of property management," he said. "I don't like when government acquires private property and I feel there has to be a way to keep government out of that process."
Most of all, Willich plans to be accountable to the voters of Sun Valley.
"All elected officials are responsible to the electorate and nothing is more important than active input from constituents," he said. "I would like to see mailers informing the public of upcoming issues and phone surveys over on-going issues. At the end of the year I would like to see a report card from each resident grading the city on the job they've done."