By CHRISTINE COLBERT
Express Staff Writer
Marketron Chief Financial Officer Walter Denekas will be challenging Martha Burke for a seat on the Hailey City Council this November with a plan to boost the city’s economy.
With more than 35 years of experience running various businesses, Denekas, 65, has a plan for increasing job opportunities in the Hailey area. He explained his strategy to encourage more growth in a recent interview, citing the need for the community to take advantage of the valley’s assets.
“Hailey is losing white-collar, technical jobs,” he said. “Stemming that loss, small as it is, is something that is important to me.”
Denekas also contended that Hailey has a very high underemployment rate.
“People are taking jobs that are below their skill and training levels,” he said. “There are people who want to move to the valley but can’t find jobs that are comparable to what they have elsewhere.”
Referring to his background in rebuilding challenged businesses, Denekas said his skills would benefit the City Council. He said that through connecting airlines, local organizations and the city, he hopes to unify these elements into a common goal.
“All it takes is a small percentage increase in your overall economic situation to see your housing values go up, to see more people with disposable income, and all the other things that make life really great here,” he said.
To stimulate job growth, Denekas said he plans to create more incentives for businesses to relocate to the area.
“One of the things I do very well is mediate
between parties who have different views.”
“A key to this is getting direct air service between here and Chicago,” he said.
Denekas explained that Chicago is a major hub for United and American airlines, “which means that we will be one stop away from every major metropolitan area in the United States.” He added that increased connections at Friedman Memorial Airport would draw skier visits that are being lost to Jackson Hole and Colorado.
“It’s faster and easier to get to those places than to get to here,” he said.
Denekas emphasized his knack for negotiating and interfacing between city governments and local businesses.
“One of the things I do very well is mediate between parties who have different views or objectives, and get them to find a win-win situation.”
Denekas also identified some things that he thinks the City Council could do better.
“Hailey has a reputation of being business unfriendly, particularly with things like zoning and development,” he said.
Denekas expressed confidence that he could fix this problem, saying that there is a current failure in the council’s ability to think through possible objections, and that issues are often not settled in advance.
“I’m a great believer that you should do your negotiations and your homework before you open up the debate.”
Though he has lived in the area only since March 2012, Denekas has played an active role in the valley, participating with groups such as Fly Sun Valley Alliance and Sustain Blaine. This will be Denekas’ first run for public office. He said he and his wife have decided to make the Hailey area their permanent home.