Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Two candidate forums will bring election close to finish line

Only certified baseball fanatics and parents without babysitters should be excused from two Pizza & Politics forums in Hailey and Sun Valley this week.

The rest of us, voters and others who want to understand the political dynamics at play in the Wood River Valley, should attend both.

It's likely the two forums will be polar opposites on the political spectrum with Hailey wielding clout as the valley's most populous city and Sun Valley wanting to make the rules as the valley's richest.

Hailey's Pizza & Politics event is tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Old Blaine County Courthouse on 206 First Ave. S.

Sun Valley's is the next night, Thursday, Oct. 27, at 6:30 p.m. at Carol's Dollar Mountain Lodge on Elkhorn Road.

The interest in the Hailey races is intense. Three men are challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Davis for his seat. The challengers include City Council Prersident Fritz Haemmerle, and Planning and Zoning Commissioners Mark Johnstone and Geoffrey Moore.

This group of insiders knows what's going on and what's not at City Hall. If they really lay out their agendas, the public will get a deep education on what's up. Three other candidates are vying for a single open council seat. One incumbent is running unopposed.

Thorny issues are piled up in Hailey. Even though it's home to a few companies that don't depend on tourism, the city is dealing with a deeply troubled economy.

It's also wrestling with what to do now that the Federal Aviation Administration has put the brakes on relocating Friedman Memorial Airport. Add annexations, water supplies, ice-rink funding, a plastic bag ban and the future of the Fire Department to the mix and debate could get vigorous.

Candidates in Sun Valley, two for mayor and four for two council seats, will deal with matters of style and substance.

The front and forward issue is how the city plays with others.

Some candidates want the city to be gentler with other government boards and community organizations. Others may want to continue to raise hell with them. Up for discussion will be how the city may use its financial clout to remake policies and priorities in other cities, the county and taxing districts for the benefit of Sun Valley residents and businesses.

Also on deck for the candidates are issues including a $14 million bond for road and path repairs and a new aerial-tower fire truck. Future residential development densities and whether local-option taxes should be used for marketing to boost tourism may also come up.

Voters need to identify smart, effective leaders to help them navigate these complex times. Coming to this week's forums is a great way to get that job done.

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