Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gentle statesmanís lasting legacy

    There are people in life who have pro-found and lasting positive influences on others—even people they’ve never met.
    Most people in Blaine County today probably never met and a lot never heard of Rep. Steve Antone, R-Rupert, who served 28 years in the Idaho House. He was a farmer and World War II veteran who flew 25 missions over Germany in a B-17 Flying Fortress. He died this week at the age of 92. His legacy will continue to shape life in the Sun Valley area far into the future.
    He was a moderate political leader, a type in short supply today. As the chairman of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, one of the most powerful positions in state government, he didn’t judge proposals by the political labels their adherents wore. Instead, he asked if they would benefit Idaho, its communities and its residents. Then, with his quiet manner, he brought people together to find common ground.
    One of his legacies is the Resort Cities Local Option Sales Tax that created qual-ity of life and equitable tax systems in Sun Valley, Ketchum, Hailey and other resort cities that are the envy of the rest of the state. Revenues from the LOT have kept local property taxes low compared to other Idaho cities and kept the tax burden for providing infrastructure, public services and marketing from falling solely on resi-dents instead of visitors.
    Antone was a key figure in the passage of the tax by the Legislature in 1978. With-out his leadership and guidance, the tax would have failed and the Sun Valley area would not be what it is today. Antone was admired by Republicans, Democrats and independents for his courage, gentle wis-dom and unfailing courtesy to all. He was not a politician—he was a statesman who practiced his craft well on behalf of all his fellow citizens. He will be greatly missed.

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