Friday, October 31, 2014

County commissioner District 1

Q & A


Larry Schoen (I)

Age: 59.

Education: B.A. in biology, University of California at Santa Cruz; M.S. in journalism, Columbia University.

Current employment: County commissioner, farmer, investor.

Government/public service: Eight years as county commissioner, county P&Z commissioner (three and a half years), Carey Rural Fire Protection District Commissioner (eight years), Blaine Soil Conservation District supervisor, board member of various county nonprofits.

Why running: Blaine County is one of the great places to live in the world and I wish to contribute to it as a community leader. It is a privilege to work with and serve extraordinary people. The commissioner job is tough but rewarding.

Party affiliation: Democrat.

 

Could the county commissioners position be part-time and thereby require a lower salary? If so, in what areas should commissioners’ responsibilities be reduced?

     It could be, but it shouldn’t. The job is full-time in response to demand and need in many policy and organizational settings. County government salaries are set according to professional, ethical and economic standards, at levels appropriate for government. People say they wish government were run more like business. Well, Blaine County government is.

 

If the state does not increase its gas tax next year, would you tend to favor raising more money locally for county road maintenance or keep the current spending level and decrease road services?

     I oppose returning to property tax for county road and bridge maintenance without a vote; hence, a levy. My job is to set the levy amount and make the case for it. I would support a modest levy to rebuild our capacity over time. The last levy was too big.

 

What steps could the county government take to boost tourism in the Wood River Valley?

     Continue supporting infrastructure improvements: air, bicycle and pedestrian transportation, public health and safety services, communications, affordable housing, green energy. Continue supporting aesthetic and social quality of life through good zoning. Consider rural bed and breakfast, other development near geothermal sites as conditional uses. Continue collaboration on tourism and the local “brand.”

 

Is the county budget fiscally responsible? How could it be made more so?

     Blaine County uses outcome-based budgeting, which is ICMA best practice. It is performance-oriented and renders all activities and spending decisions transparent and accountable to managers and the public. The county already has begun self-examination within and across all departments to improve operational and administrative efficiency wherever possible.

 

What one major change to current county policies or regulations are you eager to make next year?

     The county will review all its administrative and operational practices looking for greater efficiencies, sell the Blaine Manor building, depositing the funds in the county treasury, and redevelop a capital budget, all in the name of reduced risk and long-term budget stability.

 


 

    

Randy Patterson

Age: 56.

Education: Some college at the College of Southern Idaho after graduating from Carey High School in 1976. 

Current employment: Started C&R Electric with brother Craig in 1995. Sold that business in 2004 and currently own Time & Money with his family selling whole-food supplements and essential oils online.

Government/public service: Two terms on the Carey City Council and currently serving second term as mayor of Carey.

Why running: I am running for county commissioner because I like to help people. I believe that Blaine County is a great place to live, and I would like to see it stay that way.

Party affiliation: Republican.

 

Could the county commissioners position be part-time and thereby require a lower salary?  If, so, in what areas should commissioners’ responsibilities be reduced?

     Absolutely! Currently, the commissioners sit on the boards of many nonprofits with their commissioner hat on (illegal in some states). Some of these nonprofits are funded with county tax money (conflict of interest).  Also, stop micro-managing a very highly paid administrator and let him do his job.

 

If the state does not increase its gas tax next year, would you tend to favor raising more money locally for county road maintenance or keep the current spending level and decrease road services?

     A few years ago, the commissioners passed an ordinance that only impact fees could be used to fund road maintenance. Development is cyclical, and that ordinance needs to be reversed. General funds could then be used to make up the shortfall until the state steps up road funding.

 

What steps could the county government take to boost tourism in the Wood River Valley?

     The county can act as a facilitator to bring the business, airport and cities’ efforts together into one cohesive strategy. Funding should come mainly from the businesses who benefit from tourism and the cities who wish to promote it. 

 

Is the county budget fiscally responsible?  How could it be made more so?

     I believe that the county budget is for the most part in good shape. I see some administrative creep that needs to be taken care of and some spending on special interests that needs to be looked at. I am a “numbers” guy and can help address those situations.

 

What one major change to current county policies or regulations are you eager to make next year?

     I favor county offices being open five days a week.  By implementing a flex schedule, employees could still retain the four-day work week they have come to love. This would expedite services to the public and would eliminate the bottleneck when dealing with out-of-area agencies and businesses.




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