Wednesday, November 2, 2011

No reason to change Ketchum government

I attended Ketchum's Pizza & Politics event and was frustrated by the vagaries put forth by proponents of the council-manager form of government. It's tempting to fall for claims that something is "better," but without specifics, it's hard to get to the truth.

They say it will "give citizens more access to elected officials." Really? We now have direct access to officials without intercession by anyone. In fact, I would posit that if you called any elected official during the weekend or a holiday with a bona-fide need, you would get a quick response.

They also claim it will "depoliticize" Ketchum. What? Setting policy will, regardless of the form of municipal government, remain with the council as it works to determine the best course of action for everyone involved. These spirited debates are at the core of our democratic foundation and the fundamental way citizens directly influence policy.

Finally, they say it makes Ketchum government more "efficient" and "professional." How? Ketchum's current council-mayor form of government maximizes efficiency by allowing our capable city administrator (who already holds accreditation by the ICMA, the same organization said proponents are touting as essential for good leadership) to handle the day-to-day operations while our mayor, directly accountable to constituents, can focus on being responsive and furthering priorities set forth by our citizens.

Changing forms of government is a very big deal that should not be taken lightly. If you weigh up the facts, there are no benefits to the council-manager form that are not already vested in the time-tested and proven-effective council-mayor form in place today. I'd suggest Ketchum stick with the winner and vote "no" on change.

Jon Thorson

Sun Valley

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