Friday, September 21, 2012

Who might be next commissioner?

8 candidates vie for political appointment

Express Staff Writer

Eight Blaine County residents will go head-to-head on Tuesday in a political forum to help determine who could be appointed the next Blaine County commissioner.

The forum will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 6:30 p.m. at the Old County Courthouse in Hailey. Each candidate will give a three-minute speech followed by a 10-minute question-and-answer session. 

At the conclusion of the forum, local Democratic precinct captains will vote for three candidates whose names will be submitted to Gov. Butch Otter on Monday, Oct. 8, after County Commissioner Tom Bowman’s resignation becomes effective.Bowman, a Democrat, announced his resignation last month. He is leaving to become the CEO of Sentinel Fire and Security, a local alarm company to which he sold his former business, Ketchum Alarm, in 1999.

The governor will have 15 days to appoint a new commissioner. Under state code, county commissioner vacancies are filled by gubernatorial appointment from a selection of three candidates. The candidates must be members of the same political party as the outgoing commissioner.

Here, in alphabetical order, are the eight candidates who have submitted letters of interest to the Democrats and who will participate in the forum. The commissioner will represent District 2, which runs from the East Fork of the Big Wood River to Quigley Creek and south to Glendale Road, excluding the city of Bellevue and the Woodside neighborhood of Hailey.


Robert Blakeley

Blakeley, a Hailey resident, said he has spent so much time in Board of County Commissioners meetings over the past four years that he has a firm grasp on county issues.

“A lot of people think the meetings are boring and dry, but I kind of get a kick out of them,” he said. “If you can think of [an issue], it seems to pop up, and it’s not a yes or no solution.” 

Blakeley, a former member of the Marine Corps Reserve, ran in the 2010 Democratic primary for state Senate against Sen. Michelle Stennett.

Blakeley also was involved in the Liberty Lobby, which lobbied to put four marijuana legalization or reform initiatives on the ballot in Hailey.

He ran for Ada County Commission in 2000 as a Libertarian, but said during a Thursday interview that he considers himself a Democrat, despite working with the Libertarian Party and registering as a Republican last year in order to vote in the closed primaries.


Mary Austin Crofts

Crofts, Hailey resident and former executive director of the Blaine County Recreation District and current executive director of The Trailing of the Sheep Festival, said she was urged to throw her hat into the ring by several people she knows.

“I gave it my due diligence and decided, yes, this is something I would like to do,” she said.

Crofts was the executive director of the BCRD for 20 years, helping to complete the Wood River Trails system, the Harriman Trail, the trails at Galena and other large projects. During her time in this position, she said, she had to balance complex budgets and show leadership and management skills.

“I had experienced great success in helping bring people together to make great things happen in our community” as director of the BCRD, she said. “That’s what I would like to do again. The more people work together to achieve results, the easier it is to solve our problems [and] the more successful we will be.”


Will Duke

Hailey resident Will Duke said that for him, being county commissioner would be another way to serve his community.

Duke is a longtime member of the Ketchum-Sun Valley branch of Rotary International, and has served as club president and Great Wagon Days Duck Race chair. Duke also served as the assistant governor for the district, which covers most of southern Idaho, and is currently the district secretary. Duke was named the district’s 2012 Rotarian of the Year on Tuesday.

Duke is the owner of Duke Computer Solutions in Ketchum, and said he would work to unite the county’s organizations.

“We have a lot of people who are working diligently and organizations working towards economic benefit of the county,” he said. “I’m just not sure they are all pulling in the same direction, and I think I would do anything I can to bring cohesion.”


Jacob Greenberg

Hailey resident and financial consultant Jacob Greenberg said that he is hoping to be appointed because he has the “time, wherewithal and the desire to make a difference” in Blaine County.

Greenberg said he is also part owner of Shorty’s restaurant in Hailey, and that he has been a credit manager, cash manager, financial analyst, management consultant and CFO.

He said he is passionate about ensuring senior care for valley elders, supports the local-option tax to retain and improve air service, and believes that he has all of the experience and practicality necessary for the position.


Linda Haavik

Linda Haavik, county resident and former planning and zoning administrator for Blaine County and Ketchum, said she is hoping to be considered because of her land-use experience and experience with other county organizations.

Haavik is currently the owner of Haavik Consulting, a land-use advisory company that works with developers to guide them through land-use processes. She was the Blaine County planning and zoning administrator for 14 years and the planning and zoning administrator for the city of Ketchum for 14 years prior. 

Haavik also serves on the Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation board and the Blaine Manor board.

“What it comes down to is that I am generally interested in what the county is involved in and I am interested in helping make decisions,” she said. “There isn’t anything I could put my finger on that I would change.”


Bill Hughes

Hailey resident Bill Hughes said that he’s running for office because of his involvement in many county issues over the past few decades.

“I feel it’s important for citizens to participate in the democratic process,” he said.

Hughes said he is concerned with the issues of senior care and land use and conservation. One problem, he said, is that he feels the county is committed to supporting Blaine Manor but that the public might balk at any additional funding such as a new levy for senior care.

“The need might be there, but there are people out there where things are pretty tight financially,” he said. “I think the county needs to not cut off funding completely, but slowly withdraw support as the private sector produces additional options.”


Craig Johnson

Craig Johnson, Hailey resident and owner of Craig Johnson Construction, said he can bring a business owner’s perspective to the board of commissioners.

“Thinking about public office has been an interest of mine for decades,” he said, adding that he believes the key to economic development is to diversify the types of industries in the county. “If one of the other industries goes down, we still have support in other areas.”

Johnson said he is a passionate advocate for green and sustainable living, very experienced with county and city planning and zoning practices, and has managed projects with budgets in the millions of dollars.


Greg Travelstead

Travelstead is a Hailey resident and managing member of land and water planning consultant group Evergreen Advisors.

Travelstead said he participated in the Blaine County 2025 planning effort and has worked to annex property into the city of Hailey. 

In addition to holding a variety of jobs ranging from mountain guide to llama trainer in Blaine County, he worked for Arthur Andersen in Denver, serving as an accountant and consultant to most of the major Colorado ski resorts.

“I understand the challenges faced by remote, recreationally driven economies,” he said in a written statement. “I have struggled just like so many other Blaine County residents. I understand the sacrifices necessary to make a life in the Wood River Valley.”

Kate Wutz:

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