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For the week of November 7 - 13, 2001


Simon defeats 4 challengers for mayor

Last minute antics lead 
up to Ketchum election

Express Staff Writer

Mayor-elect Ed Simon will assume Ketchumís top job in January.

Ketchum voters unofficially cast 518 votes for Simon Tuesday, electing him mayor by a decisive margin. David Hutchinson, current mayor and runner up, received 313 votes. Mickey Garcia pulled in 77 votes. Janet Dunbar nabbed 72, and Chase Hamilton won 62.

"Iím just going whew," said a stunned Simon late Tuesday night. "For the first time in the campaign, Iím speechless."

Simon, repeating one of his campaign promises, said he wishes to develop a city government that is inclusive of its residents.

"I want it to work like it did during this election, with long lines at the polls," he said. "I want to encourage all of the people who actually went out to vote to stay involved. Thereís a lot of work to be done, and itís going to require a lot of participation."

Among the first things he said he will pursue after he takes office on Jan. 7 will be to host a town meeting "so people can express what they want to see and where they want to go."

Hutchinson appeared eager to telephone Simon to congratulate him on the win.

"You win some, you lose some, and you always congratulate the opponent," he said. "It doesnít matter how the game went."

The loss ends a 16-year record of public service for Hutchinson, who will leave office at the end of the year.

"I still have a couple of months left as mayor, and I truly believe in the priorities we set. I have a tremendous amount of confidence in the city staff, and some of those goals will be accomplished."

Of Ketchumís 1,862 registered voters, 1,050, or 56 percent, voted on Tuesday. The electionís results will be made official Friday when votes are canvassed at noon at Ketchum City Hall.

Voters waited in lines that hadnít been rivaled since a 1992 recall of three city council members, City Clerk Sandy Cady said. Ironically, perhaps, Simon was one of the council members ousted in 1992.

For most of the day, the line of citizens waiting to fill out ballots for mayor and two city council seats wove from the cityís meeting room, through the Ketchum City Hall lobby, and occasionally into the cool autumn air outside..

But apart from election day news, the final week of campaigning became confrontational as the weekend drew near. Tempers peaked Friday when a campaigner for one candidate allegedly attacked a supporter of the opposition inside the Ketchum Post Office.

The same week, Ketchum Police Chief Cal Nevland and Simon faced off with pens, paper and words. And even Councilman Randy Hall, up for re-election in 2003, and Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Peter Gray stepped up to the plate and penned letters to the editor.

In a letter printed Oct. 31, Hall dismissed Simonís claim that being recalled in 1992 was irrelevant to the campaign.

"How can the recall not be relevant?" he asked. "I believe the best prediction of the future is to look at the past. In the past, Ed Simon polarized this community. Nine years later, Mr. Simon is still polarizing the community with false and negative ads and campaign tactics."

The battle of letters between Nevland and Simon began when Nevland penned a letter to voters, postmarked Nov. 2, that denounced Simonís conduct as a city councilman that led to his 1992 recall after only 10 months in office.

"This town deserves better," Nevland wrote.

Nevlandís letter had barely been delivered before Simon fired back with a letter sent to 1,000 homes, calling Nevland's charges untrue and announcing he would be at the Ketchum Post Office between noon and 2 p.m. Monday to personally talk to voters.

Nevland, who has been Ketchumís police chief for 21 years and an officer for nine years before that, told voters in his letter that Simon and two other council members recalled in 1992 tried to fire him and other city employees.

Remembering the events leading up to Simonís recall, Nevland wrote, "A calamity befell our town, events that left Ketchum with a government that turned on its citizens, ran up huge legal bills for taxpayers to pay, smeared innocent workers in callous disregard for their rights, held secret meetings in private homes and, finally, was thrown out of office in a landslide of disgust."

Simon countered in a letter dated Nov. 3.

"I do not wish to look back upon the past, nor to relive the painful events for all concerned in 1992," he wrote. "I am running for mayor of Ketchum to bring positive solutions to the problems we all see and live with every day. I have promised you straight talk and will continue to bring you only that."

At a Monday night Ketchum City Council meeting, Ketchum resident Phyllis Shafran questioned whether the chief of police should air his opinions on the cityís political matters.

The council deferred to Nevland, who said he wrote the letter on his own time and at his own expense.

"I should have the right to express myself as much as any other person," he said. "I probably know the history of Ketchum better than anyone, and why shouldnít I be able to put out that information?

"I thought long and hard about it, and decided it was something I had to do, and I never misled the citizens of this community."

Answering to Simonís rebuttal, Nevland said, "I stand by my letter."


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