Friday, November 2, 2007

Race for single seat in Hailey could be tight

Three candidates vie for City Council post

Express Staff Writer

Hailey city election

Where: All registered voters can vote at the Community Campus gymnasium (old Wood River High School).

When: Tuesday, Nov. 6, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For one of three candidates for Hailey City Council, there will be no shortage of challenging issues to face once elected into public office. Questions of growth, affordable housing, and the economic vitality of the city have come to the forefront as chief concerns of the voters as the Nov. 6 election looms nearer.

With incumbent Councilman Rick Davis in the running for mayor, his soon-to-be open City Council No. 4 is being contested by three candidates with differing backgrounds and experience: Stefanie Marvel, Geoff Moore, and Fritz Haemmerle

Stefanie Marvel, a member of the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission, of which she is currently the chairwoman, has served on a variety of committees and boards since she moved to the city in 1981.

A textile artist whose work is collected and exhibited internationally, Marvel has listed the vibrancy of Hailey's downtown core as an area of focus, explaining that it could be increased through transportation infrastructure improvements. This would not only make downtown Hailey more walkable, but also make it more attractive to prospective retailers.

As the Planning and Zoning Commission has spent a number of meetings during recent months deliberating the inclusion of transfer of development rights (TDRs) into the Area of City Impact—which would define the city's ultimate boundaries—Marvel has repeatedly expressed hesitation in instigating this sort of program. She has stated that this could potentially give control of the city's density to developers.

Geoff Moore, a superintendent for a local contacting company who has attended nearly every Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council meeting over the last two-years as a self-professed citizens advocate, has taken a different approach this issue. Moore, who has resided in the Wood River Valley for 15 years, has said that Blaine County is intent on implementing a TDR program and that the city would be wise to do likewise in order to have input on a process that could impact the city.

Moore, who spent 11 years as a member of the Hailey Fire Department, believes that the potential upcoming consolidation between the Hailey and Bellevue fire departments could be a step towards a greater consolidation throughout the entire south valley. However, he cautioned that this could have a negative impact on Hailey residents by the way of increased taxes.

Fritz Haemmerle, the only council candidate born and raised in the valley, is making his first attempt to enter city government, although he spent a number of years serving the public as the county's prosecuting attorney. Haemmerle, who is a partner with his wife, Jennifer, in their own Hailey-based law firm, has spent significant portion of his private practice litigating against wrongful government acts and has listed the transparency of city government as a top priority if elected.

In addition, Haemmerle, who has lived in Hailey for the last 18 years, has repeated that he wants to ensure that the city remains family-oriented and preserves its historic townsite, in the city center. This includes keeping business in the downtown core and using the council to support business-sponsored community events.

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