Since 1950, when he first stood in the starting gates atop Bald Mountain for a high school ski race, Sun Valley and the surrounding area have intrigued Washington state native Dewayne Briscoe. Now 57 years later, he remains in Sun Valley, standing poised for a race for the City Council.
"I intend to have a positive agenda of ideas," Briscoe, 73, said. "But, I would not be running if I felt current city government decisions were all in the best interests of its citizens and property owners."
A paramount objective for any council member, Briscoe said, should be to provide balance between property rights and the environment.
His official platform reads: "property rights with consideration of neighbors and respect for our environment."
This election cycle, voters in Sun Valley will cast their ballots for mayor and three city council seats. Two of the council seats hold four-year terms and one is for a two-year term. The two-year seat is open due to the mid-term resignation of Ann Agnew.
Mayoral candidates include incumbent Jon Thorson and Wayne Willich. Running for the four-year seats are Blair Boand, an incumbent, Joan Lamb and Dewayne Brisco. Running for the two-year seat are Dave Chase and Milt Adam.
Briscoe, a graduate of the University of Washington School of Dentistry and School of Medicine, served on the Washington Board of Health and as president of several organizations, including Seattle King County Dental Society, Washington State Dental Association and the Western Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Briscoe also served on the faculty of the University of Washington for the schools of both medicine and dentistry
He says his past experience in a variety of leadership roles will serve him well on the City Council and denies the notion that council candidates should come out of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
"I think a citizen can be informed without having served on the stray cat and dog committee," he said.
"Sun Valley should take a lead roll in the valley," Briscoe said when asked about regional issues facing the community. "Especially with one of the constituents in the city being Sun Valley Co.—really the economic driving force in the valley."
Affordable housing, for example, has been on the forefront of the city's collective conscience for years.
"We have definitely lost vitality by losing younger workers in the area," Briscoe said.
However, having looked at other resort communities, Aspen in particular, Briscoe is skeptical of forcing developers to fulfill affordable housing needs solely within the city limits. He sees Aspen's decision to saddle the burden of affordable housing on developers and new homeowners as a mistake that artificially disturbed the market, sending home prices skyrocketing.
"I think McHanville is an excellent option," he said, referring to the residential area surrounding St. Luke's Medical Center.
"We want our firemen, police and City Hall staffers to be able to live in the city—but that's a pretty small group," he said.
Briscoe also sees transportation as a regional issue, with the potential for a new airport in the area as a key to the continued vitality of the community.
He expressed disappointment that Sun Valley and Ketchum do not have a seat on the Friedman Memorial Airport board—the governing body working to facilitate the potential for a new airport in the valley.
"FAA funding for the project will only be about one-half what is needed," he said. "The rest will come from Blaine County taxpayers, with a majority of that coming from the North Valley, be it in the form of bonds or property assessments."
Briscoe said Sun Valley Co. is the city's largest and most influential constituent.
"I look forward to working with Sun Valley in a positive and constructive way," he said. "No other ski resort community is as fortunate as we are. The Holdings have a vested interest in the success of the area and are making a tremendous effort to see their visions and goals materialize."
Briscoe sees a potential trade between the city and Sun Valley Co. as a way to ensure that the Gateway Open Space between Ketchum and Sun Valley remains undisturbed "in perpetuity."
"I would not be opposed to a trade-off, perhaps allowing Sun Valley Co. to exceed mass and scale restrictions on a specific project in return for that space remaining open," Briscoe said.