Friday, November 11, 2011

Haemmerle ready to take Hailey’s reins

City Council president wins big in mayor race

Express Staff Writer

Fritz Haemmerle talks about his plans for Hailey when he takes over as mayor in January. Photo by David N. Seelig

Attorney Fritz Haemmerle will take the helm of the city of Hailey in January following a show of strong voter support in this week's election.

Haemmerle took a gamble on his run for mayor because he chose to forfeit his role as City Council president to run for the office.

The gamble paid off. Haemmerle won almost twice the number of votes (668) as incumbent Rick Davis (350), who will step down after 20 years in public service. Other challengers Geoffrey Moore and Mark Johnstone earned 298 and 158 votes, respectively.

Woodside resident Pat Cooley will take Haemmerle's vacant council seat. A former Planning and Zoning commissioner, Cooley won more than twice the number of votes of each of his challengers, Peter Lobb and Bob Weiderrick.

Haemmerle said his immediate plans upon taking office include making sure there is enough funding to cover the costs of street maintenance, make alleys passable and establish a plan for taking care of old sidewalks.

"The city was built with sidewalks and alleys. What can we do to get them back?" he asked.

Haemmerle said a Complete Streets plan initiated by city staff two years ago "went too far" because it called for wide sidewalks and bike paths on both sides of all city streets, including those in old Hailey.

"Sidewalk standards are problematic because the ones you want downtown are not desirable in old Hailey," he said.

He said that he, and not city staff, will set the agenda.

Haemmerle said he would work to implement ideas gathered by Community Development Director Beth Robrahn on a trip to Portland, Ore.,—ideas that would make the city more bike-friendly.

Haemmerle said he is "extremely" interested in working with the Hailey Chamber of Commerce and the business community to bring events to town, such as the cycling events organized by Powerhouse owner Billy Olson.

"We're going to support that kind of thing 100 percent," he said.

"The skatepark has been a huge success, but we're going to keep it kid-friendly," he said. "That means no smoking or drinking there, or I will send our police in to make sure."

Haemmerle said he would apply more scrutiny to grants the city pursues for infrastructure improvements.

"Grants are a two-edged sword," he said. "Money comes from a source outside the city, but they end up costing us money also. There are hidden costs."

Tony Evans:

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