Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ketchum election draws 13 candidates

City Council could see 4 new members, or none

Express Staff Writer

Thirteen people are in the running for five places on the Ketchum City Council. All four current members and the mayor are running for re-election.

The candidates are Neil Morrow, Jim Slanetz, Curtis Kemp, Bob Kesting, Baird Gourlay, Larry Helzel, Bill White, Chip Bailey, Mickey Garcia, Phyllis Shafran, Randy Hall, Nina Jonas and Bill Marshall.

However, this is no regular election. Residents also will be voting whether to keep the current system of government—called a "strong mayor" form—or switch to a council-city manager form.

If the council-manager form of government is approved, the top five vote-getters will be elected. The top three will serve four-year terms; the next two will serve two-year terms. If the council-manager form is not approved, all current council members and the mayor will keep their seats. A follow-up election for two soon-to-be-expired seats—those held by Curtis Kemp and Larry Helzel—would be held in May.

About the candidates:

Neil Morrow, an attorney, serves on the board of directors of Advocates for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and volunteers as a small-claims mediator for Blaine County. He is former executive director of the Ketchum Community Development Corp. and project manager for Fly Sun Valley Alliance.

Jim Slanetz has owned the Board Bin sports store for nearly two dozen years. He spearheaded the development and fundraising for the Ketchum Guy Coles Skatepark and was on the board of directors for the Pioneer Montessori School.

Curtis Kemp, an architect, serves on the City Council. He was a member of the city's Planning and Zoning Commission before being elected to his current position in 2007.

Bob Kesting, a former high school teacher, has worked as a real estate broker at River Run Realty, which he and his wife own, for 11 years.

Baird Gourlay served on the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission before being elected to the City Council in 2001. He has been a partner in Paul Kenny's Ski & Sports—now PK's—since 1981.

Larry Helzel, an investment manager, was elected to the City Council in 2007. He is currently the council president.

Bill White is a former vice president of New York-based investment bank Allen & Co., which hosts a technology- and media-mogul conference in Sun Valley each summer. He grew up near Aspen, Colo., and moved to Ketchum full-time last year.

Chip Bailey serves on the Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission, including two years as chairman. He has worked as a building designer and building-code consultant, and was Ketchum's building official in the mid-1980s.

Mickey Garcia, who has run for public office on several occasions, has worked as a journeyman electrician and electrical contractor, a firefighter and manager for the Forest Service and BLM, and worked at the Thompson Creek Mine near Challis. He also ran a Forest Service work camp for underemployed youth. He is a Vietnam veteran.

Phyllis Shafran, a Ketchum mayoral candidate in 2009, holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of California at Berkeley. She has worked in accounting in the movie industry and in other businesses.

Randy Hall was elected Ketchum mayor in 2005 and won a second term in 2009. He previously served as City Council president and was a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission. He works as a paramedic for St. Luke's.

Nina Jonas co-owns the Ketchum restaurant Rickshaw. She was elected to the City Council in 2009.

Bill Marshall did not respond to a request for information by press time Tuesday.

P&Z Commissioner Rich Fabiano had filed a declaration of candidacy for the council but has since withdrawn.

"I support the (current) City Council," he said Monday. "I feel like they're doing a good job."

Candidates have until Sept. 23 to withdraw their candidacy.

The election is Nov. 8.

Rebecca Meany:

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