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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

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For the week of November 7 - 13, 2001

  Editorials

Small town 
economic terrorism


The people elected to public office Tuesday have a few weeks to celebrate before reality sets in.

The reality is that contrary to the assertion in the election just finished, holding elected office in a small town does not automatically confer a personal economic advantage on the occupant.

In fact, for elected officials who run local businesses or hold down a job, the contrary is true. Itís a truth that puts good local government at risk.

No elected official has ever discussed the matter publicly. Most say it would be unseemly. Instead of talking about it, they eventually save themselves and their livelihoods by getting out of public office.

What the public sees is well-qualified incumbents who do not seek re-election, election to higher office, or who leave office early because of "personal demands." Publicly, they say they want to give someone else a chance to serve, or that they want to spend more time with their families.

The fact is they flee elected office.

Serving in public office in the Wood River Valley can be an enormous economic liability.

People who seek public office with high-minded ideas about serving their communities are often astonished to find that holding office can be detrimental to their economic health.

They suddenly find people will not do business with them or prefer not to hire them. Their positions on certain issues make them subject to threats against their personal economic security.

The insidious situation could only exist in small towns like ours where elected officials are paid part-time salaries and must operate businesses or hold down jobs in addition to official responsibilities.

While our small towns scream for purity in politicians, some constituents have no problem throwing bunches of economic dirt around to bring a local politician to heel.

No elected official in any community in Blaine County is paid adequately for the time required in the job. This and the danger of economic retribution makes holding local elective office a shaky proposition for anyone who needs a real paycheck.

Thereís only one logical answer: Cities must find a way to pay elected officials full-time salaries. Otherwise, our communities risk narrowing the field of candidates to the retired, the desperate or the unwitting.

Public service should not be a losing proposition. It should confer neither riches nor poverty ó just fair compensation.

Until better salaries resolve the situation, citizens in search of good government should refrain from stooping to economic terrorism against local elected officials. Not only is it unsavory, itís downright unAmerican.

 


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.