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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of May 15 - 21, 2002


Primary will determine commissioner race

Super challenges Wright again

Express Staff Writer

When Blaine County voters go to the polls during the May 28 primary, they will choose their south county commissioner for the next four years. With the commission race set to end in less than two weeks, the two candidates, both Democrats, are working to distinguish themselves from each other.

Dennis Wright

Both Dennis Wright, the incumbent, and challenger James Super have similar ideas about one of the biggest issues in Blaine County—land-use planning. They both stress the need for preserving agricultural land and other open space by concentrating development in and around cities.

Advocates of a proposed ordinance that would allow higher density development away from cities in exchange for affordable housing and a proposal that would preserve open space by allowing development rights to be sold would be affected by the candidates’ visions for land use.

James Super

Both candidates also say they support efforts to create a regional public transportation system.

Both stress fiscal responsibility, but have different ideas about what that means. Super, challenging six-year incumbent Wright, said the county government needs an administrator to handle the commission’s bureaucratic duties and allow commissioners to spend more time addressing policy and the concerns of constituents.

Wright, however, said he doesn’t perceive a need for an administrator, which the county doesn’t currently have. Commissioners should remain involved with the bureaucracy so they can understand policy, he said.

The primary election determines which candidate from each political party will run in the Nov. 5 general election. But because only two Democrats are running for the south county seat, the race will be determined during the primary. No Republican filed for the position and the deadline for write-in candidates was Tuesday.

Residents throughout the county cast ballots for the south county seat. Even though the three seats of the commission are divided regionally, each commissioner makes decisions, frequently involving ordinances and development applications, that affect the entire county.

Wright, has served on both the Bellevue City Council and as county commissioner. He said Monday that this is the last time he will seek re-election.

Super moved to Blaine County in 1997 from Emmett, where he served for six years on the city council.

Super, a backcountry outfitter and guide who lives with his wife and children south of Bellevue, would hold his first elected office in Blaine County, if elected. Super, who ran as an Independent, lost to Wright in the 2000 general election.

Super said high taxes are a major reason so many farmers and ranchers are choosing to subdivide and sell their land. State law dictates the tax rate, but Super said he would encourage and support any proposed changes to the state tax code that would help agriculture.

Super also would support increasing the number of county employees, if that would help make the county government more responsive to the public. During his recent campaigning, which he said has involved mostly talking to residents door-to-door and by telephone, one of the more common complaints he said he heard is that county government is unresponsive to the public.

When asked how an increased number of staff could be funded, he said, "You can at least look at it and plan for it."

Wright said he has not heard any complaints that county government is unresponsive, but if he did, he would address each complaint individually.

With every project or issue that is currently before the commission, Wright’s first concern is almost always money. He wants permanent funding in place before public transportation begins. He said Blaine Manor is spending up to 60 percent more money than it should, even though the nursing home’s management has stated it is running on a shoestring budget. Wright stopped short of saying he would advocated closing the home, if its financial problem cannot be solved.


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.