Friday, October 19, 2012

Governor: Commish decision is ‘close’

County awaits Bowman replacement

Express Staff Writer

Blaine County has now gone two weeks without a replacement for resigned County Commissioner Tom Bowman, but Gov. Butch Otter’s office says a decision is nigh.

“We are close,” said Otter’s spokesman Jon Hanian. “I don’t know yet how close.”

The governor will choose the new county commissioner appointee from a slate of three chosen by the Blaine County Democrats in a forum last month. Hanian said the appointment was held up by another appointment that Otter needed to make first—a county commissioner had to be chosen for Gem County, the deadline for which was sooner.

Hanian said that in order to make the decision, the governor talks to people in the community where the candidates work and live in order to understand what kind of commissioner he or she would be.

“He does his homework, that’s No. 1,” Hanian said. “I think he weighs in each of these cases strengths versus weaknesses, and tries to arrive at the best decision.”

Hanian said he believes the governor normally follows the party’s recommendation when the party is not his own—as in this case when Republican Otter will need to choose a Democratic county commissioner.

“In my memory, in most instances, when it’s the opposing party, he usually goes with their first choice,” Hanian said. “When it comes to the other party, he wants to be very judicious and cautious and fair.”

The three candidates are Trailing of the Sheep Executive Director Mary Austin Crofts, financial and accounting consultant Greg Travelstead and Shorty’s Diner owner Jacob Greenberg.

Crofts was the party’s first choice, and said during the interview process that she could “make a difference” and bring the community together for positive change. She is a former executive director of the Blaine County Recreation District, and oversaw projects such as the Wood River Trails System, the Harriman Trail and the North Valley Trails at Galena.

Travelstead said that if appointed he plans to balance private property rights with resource conservation and to listen to all sides on issues such as senior care and airport solutions.

Greenberg, who garnered 26 letters of support from the community and was voted the party’s third choice, said he could offer “balance” to the board as a small-business owner. Greenberg said he has been a financial consultant for 30 years as well, and that that experience has given him the skills necessary to deal with the complex budgets that the board must manage.

By law, the governor must make and announce his choice next week.

Kate Wutz:

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