Friday, April 3, 2009

State to look at merger name issue

Express Staff Writer

One of the most contentious arguments surrounding the proposed merger of Sun Valley and Ketchum could soon be laid to rest with the help of state lawmakers.

State Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, said the Senate State Affairs Committee will consider a bill to amend Idaho Code to allow voters to choose the name of a new city in the case of a consolidation.

Jaquet said District 25 substitute Sen. Jon Thorson is scheduled to present Senate Bill No. 1157 today. She said she could not predict how it would fare.

Jaquet said the issue was brought to her attention in early March by former Sun Valley Mayor Ruth Lieder, who noted that current code requires the name of the more populous city to be adopted in the case of a consolidation.

That law has been held up by opposition forces as one of the main arguments against consolidation, which was proposed by Ketchum Councilman Charles Conn and Sun Valley Councilman Dave Chase, both acting as spokesmen for the group One Community, One Town.

Both Chase and Conn have maintained that retaining the name Sun Valley would be an important part of the consolidation because of the name's international brand recognition.

If the bill passes, voters in both cities would get the chance to vote on the new name at the same time as the consolidation.

"I think the merger conversation should be about the numbers, not about the name," Jaquet said. "It has become too emotional. And the bill just makes good democratic sense. It's bigger than just Sun Valley and Ketchum."

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