Voters in cities up and down the Wood River Valley will go to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 8, to weigh in on several important races for public office and ballot measures that could influence how people live and how much their tax bill might be. Here's a breakdown of the choices voters will be asked to make next week:
In Ketchum, a full ballot, many options
Ketchum voters have just a few days before Election Day, when they will decide whether to change the form of government as well as which five candidates among a field of a dozen should lead the city starting in January.
Twelve people are hoping for a seat on the City Council: challengers Chip Bailey, Mickey Garcia, Bob Kesting, Bill Marshall, Neil Morrow, Phyllis Shafran and Jim Slanetz, as well as incumbents Baird Gourlay, Larry Helzel, Curtis Kemp, Nina Jonas and Mayor Randy Hall.
A 13th person, Bill White, had filed to run, but he is no longer seeking election. His name will appear on the ballot because he missed the deadline to withdraw his candidacy.
Voters also will decide whether to keep the current strong-mayor form of government or switch to a council-manager form.
If voters approve the change in government to a council-manager form, 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 change of government is rejected, the vote on the council members will be nullified. Instead, all current council members will retain their seats and an election will be held in May to determine the seats for Larry Helzel and Curtis Kemp—the only council members who would have been up for election if the initiative had not made it onto the November ballot.
If the change is approved, state law requires the new council to be sworn in within 75 days of the vote. The current council will schedule the transition by that deadline.
People who vote "no" on the change-of-government question still may vote for council members.
Information about the forms of government is posted on the city of Ketchum website, www.ketchumidaho.org. Under City Departments, click on City Clerk, then Election Information, then open the PDF "Council manager form of government information."
For news stories about the issue, log on to the Idaho Mountain Express website, www.mtexpress.com, and type in "Rebecca Meany council-manager" in the search field on the left.
Also on the ballot will be a local-option tax ordinance, which effectively renews the current ordinance for 15 years.
Mayor, council seats on ballot in Sun Valley
From taking on debt to choosing the mayor and council, Sun Valley voters will have many decisions to make Tuesday.
In the running for mayor are incumbent Wayne Willich and current council President Dewayne Briscoe.
In filing to run for mayor, Briscoe opened up his seat on the council. The other seat up for election is held by Joan Lamb, who is running as a write-in candidate.
Others seeking a position on the council are Franz Suhadolnik, Stephen Poindexter and Michelle Griffith.
Sun Valley has open-seat elections, which means the candidates with the most votes fill the vacant positions.
Sun Valley council and mayoral terms are four years.
Voters also will decide on a $14,150,000 general obligation bond, which would pay for the city's Five-Year Capital Improvement and Fixed Asset Plan.
About 85 percent of the bond money is marked for road and path reconstruction. The rest would go toward the purchase of a new aerial tower truck, to be split with the Ketchum Fire Department.
For answers to frequently asked questions, a tentative schedule for road reconstruction and other information, log on to the city of Sun Valley website, www.sunvalley.govoffice.com/ and click on the bond election graphic in the middle of the page.
Sun Valley residents vote at City Hall, 81 Elkhorn Rd., on the northeast corner of Dollar and Elkhorn roads.
Hailey could see power shift
Hailey residents could see some changes in how the city conducts its affairs following the Nov. 8 election. Funding goals, development fees and city staff process were all issues during the candidates' campaigns.
Incumbent Mayor Rick Davis is challenged by three contenders for his office: City Council Chair Fritz Haemmerle and Planning and Zoning Commissioners Mark Johnstone and Geoffrey Moore.
The challengers are running campaigns focused on avoiding litigation, holding developers more accountable, increasing public involvement on issues facing the city and making city staffers more friendly to businesses and residents.
Davis says he is the man with the most experience to continue carrying the city through challenging economic times.
Haemmerle is giving up his Hailey City Council seat to run for mayor. Patrick Cooley, Robert E. Wiederrick and Peter A. Lobb will vie for that vacant seat.
Carol Brown is running unopposed to keep her seat.
Only Cooley has experience serving in public office (Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission). Weiderrick initiated an unsuccessful plan to end the city's development impact fees. Lobb serves on the city's Marijuana Community Oversight Committee and has attended most city meetings over the past three years as a citizen critic.
Also on the ballot is an initiative asking whether voters want to ban the distribution of single-use shopping bags in the city.
In Bellevue, three City Council seats open
Bellevue voters will go to the polls to pick three of five candidates for City Council. The election could provide a show of confidence for the council now in office or a desire to turn back the clock.
Incumbents Dave Hattula and Janet Duffy will run against council veterans Shaun Mahoney and Tammy Schofield Eaton. Newcomer Amber Avila is also running for office.
The three candidates who get the most votes will take seats on the council in January.
Mahoney and Eaton—both business owners—are hoping to return to public office, campaigning largely on the idea that the current council does not listen to residents' concerns when it comes to big issues facing the city, such as changes in law enforcement contracts and the bond initiatives.
Hattula and Duffy say they are proud of the council's record of cutting expenses and restoring staff hours.
All of the candidates are eager to boost the local economy, increase volunteerism and go about tackling issues such as infrastructure costs.
Voters will also consider whether they want to approve a proposed $375,000 bond issue to support the Fire Department.
Where do I vote?
City elections will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8, in Sun Valley, Ketchum, Hailey, Bellevue and Carey. Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. All voters must show a valid form of identification. Registered voters in the cities listed should go to the following polling places:
- Sun Valley (Precinct 13): Sun Valley City Hall.
- Ketchum (Precincts 1, 2, 3 & 4): Hemingway Elementary School.
- Hailey (Precincts 6, 7, 8 & 14): Community Campus gymnasium.
- Bellevue (Precinct 10): Bellevue Elementary School library.
- Carey (Precinct 12): Carey City Hall.
Absentee voting concludes at 5 p.m. today, Nov. 4, at the Blaine County Courthouse in Hailey.