Friday, May 11, 2012

Candidates speak out on city issues

Ketchum City Council election set for Tuesday, May 15

Express Staff Writer

Candidates up for election in the Ketchum City Council race Tuesday, May 15, will help decide major issues as the city continues to weather rough economic times.

Two City Council members will be elected, serving four-year terms. Vying for those seats are Michael David, Charles Friedman, Mickey Garcia, Julie Lynn and Jim Slanetz.

The Idaho Mountain Express asked each of them to answer the following questions:

1. What would you focus on to create jobs and promote business?

2. What is your position on the proposed transit hub?

3. On what would you base funding decisions for the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance?

4. How would you engage people during the comprehensive plan update? What are the key issues?

Michael David

1. I would focus on promotion of local events that bring consumers into town and educate residents of the economic benefits of shopping local. I would regularly meet with local business owners to gather input.

2. At this time, I don't believe we have enough information to make a decision. We need to give the citizens and business owners information regarding the benefits and costs in order to gain public input and make an informed decision.

3. Funding decisions should be based on occupancy rates, skier totals and other traditional measures. Also, the city should work with the SVMA in a cooperative effort to ensure the correct markets are targeted for the near term and long term.

4. Key is affordable housing and how it's been affected by the real estate market. Also key is the Light Industrial zone, and creating new business opportunities. Use town hall meetings (with free pizza), social media and surveys to gather input.

Charles Friedman

1. I'll focus the city's resources on improving infrastructure, specifically by upgrading sidewalks and establishing better signage and way-finding to make the retail shops and restaurants more accessible. Further, I will encourage out-of-area marketing efforts to attract more visitors to Ketchum.

2. I need more information to take an educated position on the proposed transit hub. The city could benefit from the project, but I want to see a cost-benefit analysis, a site analysis and public consensus before committing funds.

3. Marketing and establishing brand awareness are essential to growing the economy, supporting local businesses and creating vibrancy in the downtown core. Funding decisions need to be made within the budget and SVMA needs to be accountable for their marketing strategy.

4. The Comp Plan should be a collaborative effort drawing from all stakeholders in the community. Open, accessible meetings are critical to building a consensus on Ketchum's future. Key issues are economic development, land-use planning, town design, housing and energy solutions.

Mickey Garcia

1. a. Bring new businesses unrelated to tourism to the valley. b. Support Sustain Blaine and WREP. c. Expedite completion of the four-lane from Ketchum to Timmerman. d. Expedite completion of the Water Park. d. Bring in more nationally recognized events.

2. The transit hub is not needed and as proposed actually creates congestion, air pollution and reduces parking availability for small Ketchum businesses.

3. Measurable results.

4. The Comp Plan wastes time and money, especially since a very small percentage of the previous plan has been implemented in the last 10 years. Generally speaking, government planning harms your quality of life, your pocket book and your future.

Julie Lynn

1. I'd try to reduce burdens on businesses and keep them more in the loop regarding things like sign ordinances and way-finding plans, and provide a community calendar. That could help businesses plan, which could lead to more hiring.

2. The city was wise to further study whether it's needed, and what form, if any, it should take. I oppose a hub that would take up valued parking spaces and be one more structure for snowplows to deal with.

3. Since this is a new venture for Ketchum, perhaps create a two-year baseline budget. Figure out how to measure its effectiveness and weigh future funding based on that analysis at the end of each winter and summer season.

4. Walking tours would draw people out. I'd collect email addresses to send newsletters highlighting parts of the plan. It's important to maintain the commercial core, create an attractive sign ordinance and continue projects like the 4th Street Heritage Corridor.

Jim Slanetz

1. The best thing we can do to create jobs and promote business is to focus on making Ketchum a great place to live and visit. If we succeed at that, the rest will fall into place.

2. We need to look at it from a perspective of what is best for our community, rather than what is just best for Mountain Rides. I'm glad the city slowed the process so we can look more carefully at options.

3. We need to give the Alliance a chance to let their plan come to fruition. We need to quantify their success and work with Sun Valley and Sun Valley Co. to help get Sun Valley back on the map.

4. Keeping as many people as possible involved through open public meetings is key in creating our comprehensive plan. The key issues are creating a more diverse economy and making Ketchum greener and more sustainable.

Rebecca Meany:

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