Those who have recently attended a Ketchum—or other valley municipality—City Council meeting, a Sun Valley Marketing Alliance board meeting or a canyon party should be familiar with the sentiment that the Sun Valley area could be more young-person friendly.
However, are the valley’s young people—specifically those old enough to vote—taking it upon themselves to put their political two cents in and direct change in the valley? Or are they content to let older voters make the choices for them?
According to Blaine County census and voter registration data, there are fewer registered voters per capita in the 20 to 35 age group than there are among older voters. Only 62 percent of the younger population is registered, versus 82 percent of the older group.
“I think the biggest challenge for voters our age is having true convictions in their opinions,” said Krista Detwiler, 23, the marketing and development director for Ketchum-based Expedition Inspiration Fund for Breast Cancer Research. “However, I’ve never had much of a problem in that regard.”
She said her biggest “pet peeves” during election season are people who have hard-set beliefs but cannot back them up and people who “vote like their parents” without taking the time to consider where they stand on important issues.
“I know exactly why I vote the way I vote and I could support my argument endlessly,” Detwiler said. “I take my ability to vote seriously and I expect to be treated that way, no matter my age.”
Sarah Patterson, 24, a server at the Sun Valley Inn’s Lobby Lounge in the Sun Valley Resort mall, said voting does matter, but did not express as much confidence in her opinions as Detwiler, especially concerning the local elections.
“I’ll vote for the presidential election, but I don’t know if I should vote in the local stuff or not as I haven’t really paid much attention to it,” she said. “It’s not really a topic of conversation when I’m with my friends.”
Andrew Sarda, 28, a chef at Cristina’s Restaurant in Ketchum—who cast his vote ahead of time via absentee ballot—said the local elections are more important to him now that he has lived in the valley for four years.
“The first year or two, the local elections didn’t matter so much,” he said. “But the longer I live here, local politics matter more to me.”
Sarah Thompson, 24, assistant director of admissions at the Community School in Sun Valley, said she would feel “hypocritical” if she complained about politics without voting. She said she would vote this year, but not in Blaine County.
“I’m voting local in my hometown of Andover, Mass.,” she said.
Thompson said she would vote this year even if it weren’t a presidential election, but she probably would not have four years ago.
“The local elections seem more important to me the older I get,” she said.
Thompson said she is currently employed on a 10-month contract and didn’t register to vote in Blaine County because she’s not sure she’ll remain in the valley long-term.
“I would register here if I decide to move here full-time,” she said.
Mark Oliver, 30, a Ketchum photographer and videographer, said voting in the local elections is particularly important in a small community.
“What it boils down to is that it’s such a small voting pool, one vote really matters, and we saw that in the last Ketchum election,” he said.
In Ketchum’s most recent election in January, Councilman Michael David edged out former Councilman Charles Friedman by one vote.
Oliver said he is “absolutely” going to vote.
“It’s important for our generation to get involved and to be informed,” he said. “If you’re invested in the community you live in, you should vote.”
Brennan Rego: firstname.lastname@example.org