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For the week of April 10 - 16 , 2002

  News

Candidates vie for assessor, commissioner seats

Primary election set for May 28


By TRAVIS PURSER
Express Staff Writer

What was shaping up to be a ho-hum, no-contest Blaine County election season turned into a race last week when two candidates emerged to challenge the incumbent assessor and south county commissioner.

Walt Cochran

Just a few hours before the filing deadline Friday, Republican Walt Cochran declared his intention to run for assessor, challenging incumbent Democrat Valdi Pace.

Democrat James Super filed last Tuesday to challenge incumbent Democrat Dennis Wright for the commission seat.

All six county incumbents are seeking another term, including Coroner Russ Mikel, who filed late last week.

Since a primary election scheduled for May 28 will eliminate all but one candidate from each party, the race for the commission seat will be determined then, if no Republican steps forward as a write-in candidate in the Nov. 5 general election. The race for assessor will continue until the general election.

Valdi Pace

Super ran as an Independent to challenge Wright during the 2000 election, but lost. During an interview last week, he said he ran as Independent, not a Democrat, in 2000 to ensure that he could campaign past the primary and build name recognition.

Now, heís hoping that added campaigning will pay off.

"Iím a Democrat because I believe in kids," who deserve a good education and medical insurance, he said. "Something should be done to keep kids away from drugs and out of the back seats of cop cars."

James Super

Super, 48, said he supports north county Commissioner Sarah Michaelís proposal to hire a county administrator, an idea that Commission Chairwoman Mary Ann Mix and Wright oppose.

An administrator charged with writing grant proposals, assisting commissioners in setting priorities and fulfilling other bureaucratic duties would allow commissioners more time to connect with their constituents, Super said.

Incumbent Wright, 59, was relaxed about his race that will end in less than two months.

Concerning his campaign, he said "I havenít really thought a lot about it." He also said he plans to leave Thursday a one-week vacation to Tucson with his wife Norma. "Weíll see what happens" after that, he said.

Dennis Wright

Wright said he is not a "project-oriented" person and that the south county commission seat doesnít involve projects.

Nevertheless, if re-elected, he said he would like to see a resolution to a controversial proposal to refurbish East Fork Road and then begin a similar project for Croy Creek Road.

Wright, who among the three commissioners is charged with overseeing roads and bridges, pointed out that a six-year project to improve Gannett Road, which runs between Bellevue and Picabo, will be completed this year.

Wright would also like to help complete a proposed Transferable Development Rights ordinance that would allow farmers and ranchers to sell their rights to develop to landowners in already populated areas. The proposed ordinance is aimed at preserving open space.

Wright said he plans to propose a receiving area, where development would be encouraged, west of Hailey. So far, receiving areas have been proposed south of Bellevue only.

In the assessor race, challenger Cochran is running against the incumbent, and his employer, Pace, 49. Cochran, 65, has been an appraiser in the office that determines the value of property for tax purposes for 13 years.

"This is going to be a touchy situation. Iím running against my boss," he said. "I probably wonít be there afterward if I lose."

Pace said she hasnít decided yet if sheíll fire Cochran if she wins the election.

His running "kind of tells me he doesnít support what Iím doing, and that disappoints me," she said.

Pace, who entered her position three years ago when she beat Cochran in the 1998 election, said she has worked to make the assessorís office more "public friendly," that she has restructured employee duties for efficiency and that she has been working on bringing the office up-to-date with a computerized appraisal system called ProVal.

Cochran said the assessorís office is tightly controlled by law, which limits an assessorís ability to make sweeping changes in the office.

"The main thing is making sure everybody is treated the same," he said.

 


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.