Friday, November 30, 2007

Haemmerle has vision

The voters of Hailey are fortunate to have two well-qualified candidates competing in the upcoming special election for City Council; I have no doubt that our city will be well served no matter who prevails. I write not to oppose anyone but to support the candidacy of Fritz Haemmerle who, in my opinion, offers unique qualifications at a critical time in Hailey's history.

As a former city attorney and mayor of Hailey and a 30-year resident of the Wood River.

Valley, I have a long-term interest in and deep passion for protecting the quality of life we have built and preserved in the Hailey community. While Ketchum is increasingly a marketplace for second, third and fourth homes whose owners add little to the community's vitality, Hailey has built and retained residential neighborhoods for real people who work for a living, send their children to neighborhood schools and neighborhood parks and patronize Hailey's stores, restaurants and theatres. Fritz Haelnmerle, who grew up in Ketchum and has watched its decline as a family-oriented community, is just the kind of person who can and will stand up for the values that make Hailey the best place to live, work and raise a family in the entire state of Idaho.

I am concerned with what I see as an attitude among certain of our city's leaders that "if it's good for business, it's good for Hailey." Fritz Haemmerle knows how misleading and dangerous that approach can be. To be sure, businesses like Power Engineers and Marketron, businesses that provide year-round employment and good pay, are good for our community and we should encourage other, similarly oriented companies to locate here. But frenzied growth in the "business" of the second-home market could quickly suffocate our community—driving up housing costs, driving even upper-middle-income families and the businesses they work for out, and replacing neighborhoods full of families who actually live there with subdivisions full of houses, condominiums and town homes seldom occupied and whose owners are never invested in the life and fabric of the community. We need someone like Fritz on the City Council to stand up for the policies and values that made this a family oriented community and to oppose those who see Hailey as the next great second-home plantation of the Wood River Valley.

Fritz will support accelerated relocation plans for an airport that increasingly spews toxic fumes and deafening, private jet noise into many of our residential neighborhoods. He will insist that growth be carefully planned and managed to the benefit of our residences, not the bottom line of real estate developers. He will support and champion investment in infrastructure that enhances pedestrian-friendly, residential and business zones. Fritz's background and training as an attorney, a prosecutor, and an elected official give him a skill set that is sorely needed in city government. I hope you will join me in electing Fritz Haemmerle to the Hailey City Council on Tuesday, December 4, 2007.

R. Keith Roark


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