Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Newbie commissioner faces longtime candidate

Garcia, McCleary compete in only contested county race


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

Idaho's youngest county commissioner will face one of Ketchum's most colorful residents next week in the race for Blaine County commissioner.

Though current commission Vice-Chair Angenie McCleary is the incumbent candidate, she has never been elected. When former Commissioner Sarah Michael retired, McCleary was chosen from a panel of three candidates and appointed by Gov. Butch Otter in July 2008.

The term was McCleary's first in public office, and she was immediately thrust into the county budget process, approving a tentative budget for fiscal year 2009 just a day after taking her seat.

She has since approved three budgets, and says the key to responsible budgeting is keeping reserve spending at a reasonable level.

McCleary, a Democrat, also supports "thoughtful land planning," she said, including the Scenic Overlay District, which she said helps protect Blaine County's natural surroundings.

Longtime political candidate Mickey Garcia falls on the other end of the spectrum. With a rallying cry of "Hang all the planners!," Garcia made his negative opinion of the Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission clear during a candidates forum earlier this month.

Garcia, an Independent, calls himself pro-development, and has accused the county of stealing private property via overlay districts meant to limit development on hillsides and the highway.

He is also an opponent of what he calls "restrictive zoning," including community housing requirements, which he says drive up housing costs through scarcity.

A 25-year resident of Ketchum, Garcia is a former candidate for Ketchum mayor, Ketchum City Council and the Blaine County Commission. He has worked as a wildland firefighter and as a civilian contractor with the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam.

McLeary has experience working as a Blaine County School District social worker and in various governmental organizations.

District 2 County Commissioner Tom Bowman is also up for election, but is running unopposed. This will be Bowman's third term.

All county voters can participate in the Nov. 2 election for commissioner.

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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