Ah, the capriciousness of polls! The first round of voting for Idaho Mountain Express Woman of the Year left some candidates tied. In a vote to help narrow our finalists in the race for this year's award, the response was overwhelming—confirming that each of these women is No. 1 year-round.
After the runoff vote, these are the five that remain. To aid in this last round of voting, thumbnail sketches of each of the nominees are provided below. Remember, the award recognizes the one local woman who made the biggest difference to the Wood River Valley in 2010. She will be profiled in the second annual Valley Woman special section, to be published next month.
To keep things as fair as possible, the Express uses the leading survey tool on the Web, SurveyMonkey, to gather public opinion and names to compile this data. Employing this technology enabled the enforcement of a democratic, one-person, one-vote policy. In addition, requiring all respondents to provide an e-mail address means the results are verifiable.
Visit www.mtexpress.com/womanoftheyear to cast your vote. The deadline for the final vote is Sunday, Feb. 27, at 5 p.m.
Martha Burke, 63, aka "Beaver," a term of endearment given to her by her mother when she was 18 months old.
Current job/role: Hailey city councilwoman, vice chair of Friedman Memorial Airport Authority, and liaison to the Hailey Arts Commission. Has spearheaded improvements to access for the disabled to community parks and playgrounds.
Length of time in role: Nearly 20, currently serving her fifth four-year term on the council.
Time in valley: 40 years.
Community service, current or past: Vestry service to Emmanuel Episcopal Church, longtime volunteer for the Advocates for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse, Hailey Public Library board.
Personal motto: While what she does looks to a layperson like the work of a wizard, that's an illusion. As Dorothy found in Oz, "When you pull the curtain back, there is no magic, there is no genius, it's just me. And I was raised to believe if you can make a difference, you should. Somebody has to. I can, and I should."
What she says: "What a compliment. What a huge honor. And such fine women to be recognized with. Wow!"
What others are saying:
"I've lived in the Wood River Valley for 25 years. Of those 25 years, I don't remember one when Beaver Burke wasn't doing something for our community. She worked for the Advocates doing an excellent job helping the children in our schools learn about abuse in the home. Beaver is well deserving of this honor."
"What strikes me about Martha is her unquestioning commitment to her community since her arrival to the Wood River Valley in the early 1970s. Martha found ways immediately to give back to a community she loves so much. Delivering Meals on Wheels to Moritz hospital patients was her first endeavor. I can only sum up her commitment with the following quote, "To lead is to serve."
Wendy Jaquet, 67.
Current job/role: Idaho state representative, D-Ketchum.
Length of time in role: 16 years.
Time in valley: 34 years.
Community service, current or past: Idaho Legislature's Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, Judiciary and Rules Committee, Environment, Energy and Technology Committee.
Personal motto: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again," from Thumper in the Disney classic animated film "Bambi."
What she says: "I read your e-mail just now with great surprise. Thank you for the recognition."
What others are saying:
"Wendy is by far the best choice for this honor. She has given countless hours to her position in this community. I don't know a person who is better qualified and entitled for this award."
"Wendy has fought tirelessly for the people in the state of Idaho and has never given up on our towns, our state and our beliefs."
Muffy Ritz, 53, aka "The Ambassador," "Murph," "Ritzo."
Current job/role: Director of the Vamps program—women's Nordic skiing group of 140 women, at Sun Valley.
Length of time in role: 15 years.
Length of time in the valley: 20 years.
Community service, current or past: Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, Hulen Meadows Homeowners Association board vice president, Galena Trails and Advisory Committee, Boulder Mountain Tour Executive Committee, director of the Larsen Fund.
Personal motto: "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right."
What she says: "It's an honor to be nominated for a second time for this prestigious award. No matter what happens with the final results, you all deserve the award! We have an amazing valley of 'fine females!' I don't know you all, but hope to."
What others are saying:
"This one woman has inspired hundreds of other women to accomplish great things by instilling a spirit of you can do it, and challenging us all to be the best we can be. She has changed lives by empowering us to stand strong as females providing us Nordic skiing as a foundation and parallel to accomplishing life's greater tasks."
"Muffy changed my life. She helped me be a stronger, more confident, more vibrant woman. I am grateful to know her, and I am grateful for VAMPS, which is a real woman's movement."
Carla Scanlon, 60.
Current job/role: Cognitive coach for Blaine County School District.
Length of time in role: Three years, with 16 additional years as an elementary teacher in Blaine County.
Length of time in the valley: 22 years.
Community service, current or past: LDS Church, Blaine County after-school programs, district and state curriculum writing, state math assessments, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Blaine County School District Milepost Program.
Personal motto: "Live the life you've dreamed." (Henry David Thoreau)
What she says: "What a thought and what an honor to be recognized as commendable in your midst. Those of you known to me, I hold in such high esteem. I take it as a challenge to get to know the rest of you! May your day be full of good things."
What people are saying:
"Mrs. Carla Scanlon is much more than just 'Woman of the Year.' As an educator, she has relentlessly devoted her life to the children of this valley. I had the privilege of having Mrs. Scanlon as my mentor teacher some years ago, and my life has never been the same since. Carla is truly an amazing woman and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to work directly with her. Thank you, Carla, for your time, patience, tireless dedication and flawless example as not only an educator, but as a woman."
"I have known Carla for many years now. I don't recall a day (at Hailey Elementary School) that I saw her that we didn't have a friendly chat about school, family and kids. As busy as she was with her class and her own family, she always has time for others. She was and still is such a wonderful advocate for students. She would encourage her students and bring them along as they grew and grew as good readers and learned to love reading as well. In the last few years as her position as cognitive coach for our school and Woodside School, she is even more an advocate for students as well as for teachers. She is the first person to organize for a family or friend in need. She is the first one to pay a visit to a sick or grieving colleague. She gives of herself so willingly every day."
Theresa Castellano-Wood, 56.
Current job/role: Founder and vice president of the Works of Grace Foundation.
Length of time in role: 11 years.
Length of time in the valley: 12 years.
Some organizations current or past: Wood River Community YMCA, Wood River Middle School PTA, Wood River Women's Charitable Foundation, Works of Grace Foundation Scholarship for Children of Teachers, Sawtooth Botanical Garden, Girl Scouts, Company of Fools, Hemingway Elementary School.
Personal motto: "You must be the change you wish to see in the World." (Mahatma Gandhi)
What she says: "I just wanted to extend my sincere congratulations to all of you for this very special nomination. I am honored to be in your company. "
What people are saying:
"Theresa has contagious enthusiasm, and a get-the-job-done attitude. No job is too small or too great for her to take on. Theresa has endless energy when it comes to supporting our children and families. The Works of Grace Foundation, which she founded, has now awarded over $700,000 in scholarships to the children of Blaine County teachers. Theresa has direct contact with all the teachers and recipients. She was a vocal and impactful advocate of the facilities levy, which helps us offset operating costs to enable us to focus more on curriculum. Theresa is a spectacular mother to Theo and Victoris. She sets a tremendous example of caring, compassion and action."
"Theresa is passionate about youth. Her philanthropic actions and board positions are always for one thing—to give all kids a chance to improve themselves based upon their talents and capabilities, not social and economic circumstances. She is simply an angel to children and to higher education and self esteem."