Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Change-in-government initiative fails

Ketchum City Council election null and void


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

Ketchum voters opted to keep the current form of government, rejecting a proposed switch to a council-manager system.

Unofficial results late Tuesday showed 440 people voting in favor of the change, while 582 people voted against it.

The initiative needed a simple majority to pass.

The "no" vote means the election of council candidates is null and void, per state statute. The current council and mayor will keep their seats until a new election is called to determine the seats now held by Curtis Kemp and Larry Helzel. That election will take place in May.

Voters came out in force Tuesday to make their wishes known.

"We're having a wonderful turnout, and Ketchum voters are taking this election very seriously," Jerry Ann Heaney, chief judge of Ketchum's 2nd precinct, said late Tuesday morning.

As of about 2 p.m. Tuesday, the county had received 157 absentee ballots from Ketchum voters, said Blaine County Election Clerk Amy Rivkin. The county oversees elections for all districts in the county. Rivkin said she expected more absentee ballots to come in before polls closed at 8 p.m.

Twelve people were vying 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.

Bill White filed to run, but later decided against seeking a seat. His name already had been printed on ballots.

In the strong-mayor form of government, the citizen-elected mayor is the chief executive of the city. In the council-manager form, the chief executive is a hired city manager.

Mayors under a council-manager form of government often are selected from among the council, though the council can pass an ordinance allowing the public to elect a mayor. The City Council is the policy-setting, or legislative, body under both systems.

LOT gets another 15 years

Ketchum voters also approved a new 15-year local-option tax ordinance, which will mirror the current LOT ordinance, set to expire Dec. 31, 2012.

The measure needed 60 percent approval to pass. Unofficial results show 751 people voted for the ordinance; 239 people voted against it.

Rebecca Meany: rmeany@mtexpress.com




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