Friday, October 31, 2014

Council should support mayor’s choice

Sun Valley Mayor Dewayne Briscoe, using his statutory authority under Idaho law, intended to appoint Sun Valley Planning and Zoning Commissioner Jake Provonsha to fill the vacant City Council position formerly held by Franz Suhadolnik at the October City Council meeting. While it may frustrate current council members, under Idaho law, the mayor of a city has the sole responsibility for appointing a candidate for a city council vacancy. The law also establishes that a city council’s sole authority is to confirm or reject a mayor’s appointment. While the City Council plays no statutory role in the selection and nomination process, out of courtesy, Mayor Briscoe requested recommendations from the council.  Jake Provonsaha was the only recommendation.
     I do not know Mr. Provonsha personally, however, his resume is very impressive. He has resided in the area for over 35 years, has served on both the Ketchum and Sun Valley Planning and Zoning Commission, has been president of the Sun Valley Elkhorn Association, and is a trained firefighter and emergency medical technician. Comparing his background with all existing council members, his experience in our valley in elected and appointed positions likely exceeds the combined total experience of all current council members when they were elected. He would be an excellent interim appointment to fill the vacant council position until the end of 2015. His background of working as a P&Z commissioner in both Sun Valley and Ketchum could be very helpful in bridging issues between the two cities.
    Despite Mr. Provonsha’s extensive background of public service, Sun Valley City Council members Michelle Griffith and Peter Hendricks said they could not support him at the time of Mayor Briscoe’s appointment and needed more time to evaluate his qualifications. Mayor Briscoe therefore postponed a final vote until the Nov. 6 council meeting, as it seemed Griffith and Hendricks intended to block the appointment.
     Mr. Provonsha deserves an up-or-down vote, based solely on his qualifications to fill the position. Council members should not refuse to vote for him simply because they don’t like him, his background, or on prohibited grounds such as his sex, age, race, religion, etc. It is important to confirm a replacement for the vacant council position at the November meeting.  Under Idaho law, a majority of council members must vote to confirm an appointed member. If members decide to block an appointment, the position would remain vacant and they should specifically state an objective reason for blocking the appointment.

Failure to fill the council position could pose serious difficulties, as all three current council members must be present at meetings to constitute a quorum in order to conduct city business. Any illness or unexpected absence of one member could result in costly delays. Most important, it could eliminate objective dialogue and discussion among council members and allow just two members to dictate council decisions based on their agenda, as they would then constitute a majority if Sun Valley were forced to continue to operate with only three council members. It is critical that the council operate as intended under Idaho law with four council members.
    Unless there is some objective reason that would demonstrate Jake Provonsha is not qualified, the Sun Valley City Council members, who have taken an oath to faithfully perform their duties for Sun Valley citizens and support the laws of Idaho, need to approve his appointment without further delay to avoid these potential problems. This is not the time for any council member to block this interim appointment for their personal political agenda.
    I encourage Sun Valley and Ketchum citizens who are familiar with Jake Provonsha’s public service accomplishments to contact Sun Valley City Council members Keith Saks, Michelle Griffith and Peter Hendricks and ask that they support his appointment to the council and to also voice their support at the Nov. 6 Sun Valley City Council meeting.

Jim Bronson lives in Sun Valley.

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