Friday, May 11, 2012

Ketchum should elect business-minded council candidates

Ketchum is a lucky city.

Five generous, smart, well-educated and talented candidates are on next Tuesday's ballot in a race for two seats on the City Council.

The candidates demonstrated in public forums and interviews that what had once become a little murky in city chambers has been made crystal clear by the difficult economic times the entire area is going through. All of the candidates understand that the city's economy is heavily dependent on tourism. They also know that the sales taxes generated by this economy support the lion's share of city operations.

The majority of the candidates agree that the city should continue to fund marketing to attract visitors and believe that development of a four- or five-star hotel would help strengthen the economy.

They're concerned about the precarious status of commercial air service to the valley and want to see the issues surrounding improvement and/or relocation of Friedman Memorial Airport resolved.

Most are supportive of the functions and potential of the Urban Renewal Agency and the Community Development Corporation to move the community toward a healthier economic future and remaining attractive and livable.

They understand the importance of maintaining a dynamic, concentrated and walkable commercial core. All but one, Mickey Garcia, would have opposed rezoning a portion of the city's Light Industrial zone to allow development of a big box-store.

In these troubled times, the city needs leaders who are knowledgeable about the economic challenges facing local businesses and workers and who face those challenges daily.

With all of these things in mind, we recommend to voters the following candidates:

Charles Friedman: This banker and 11-year resident of the area has the best handle of any candidate on what's facing the city. He was recently appointed to a vacant council seat. He's done his homework well, is up to speed on the city's past and has a good grasp of strategies the city may engage for the future. His job working with local businesses gives him a front seat on the outsized problems they face.

Jim Slanetz: This 27-year resident owns a sporting goods store that has survived through good times and bad. With his future and his family's tied to the health of the Ketchum economy, he's well-suited to serve. His enthusiasm, willingness to promote and undertake new events, and solid background as an entrepreneur could breathe life into a city whose life is going to depend on events and promotion well into the future.

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