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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of October 22 - 28, 2003


Hailey enters ‘pizza
and politics’ fray

Mayoral candidates debate performances

Express Staff Writer

Running unopposed for re-election in Hailey Nov. 4, council member Carol Brown and council president Rick Davis kicked off the 2003 Idaho Mountain Express Pizza and Politics night, Wednesday, Oct. 15, by sharing their views on urban growth and why they want people to come out and vote anyway.

"The growth issue is right in our face," Brown said. She’d like to know that she has voters’ support to continue to address the challenges of rapid growth in the community.

"If I lose this election this time, it’s time to quit," joked Davis, who was born in Hailey and has grandchildren here. He said he feels a strong sense of duty to the community that has offered him so much. He also expressed the value of his experience guiding growth having served in city government much of the last 20 years.

The evening debate was not all humor and sentimental reflection, however. There is a mayoral race this year.


Mayoral race heats up

Gathered for the election season tradition, people packed the meeting room at the old Blaine County Court House a year after former mayor Al Lindley’s hasty resignation and Mayor Susan McBryant’s appointment to his position. Many were eager to get further explanation for the sudden change last year when Lindley submitted a letter of resignation after hearing that city staff members had alleged sexual harassment grievances to voice.

Lindley claimed the council acted inappropriately and held an illegal vote of no confidence ensuring his being removed as mayor. McBryant said no such "vote" ever took place before his resignation.

"I did talk to Al (about the alleged grievances) before he resigned," said Davis. "I didn’t want him to be blindsided in a public forum."

McBryant said city attorney Ned Williamson advised her to hear the grievances, which is in line with the city’s grievance policy and Idaho code. A person having a grievance is supposed to take the complaint to his or her department head. In Lindley’s case, since the two grievances were directed against him, McBryant as council president was the appropriate person to address. McBryant said she asked Lindley to call an executive session to discuss the matter, but Lindley said he was upset because of the alleged council meeting of no confidence and because executive sessions cannot be called to discuss elected personnel.

In any case Lindley, having submitted a resignation could not rescind it under Idaho code, said Williamson. Because Lindley then was no longer part of the city government, he was not able to hear the grievances, said McBryant, who said a requirement of the process of responding to the grievances is that the specifics not be discussed.

"There is no gag order on him," she said of the former mayor.

"There was a vote of no confidence after he resigned," said Davis.

"I said some things that made people uncomfortable and I am sorry about that," Lindley said.

The two candidates have not battled over the controversy during this year’s mayoral campaign, but they have addressed the issue when asked. Both have said they want to leave the past behind and move on with the business of managing city business.

Lindley said he responded in anger to what he viewed as an inappropriate meeting of the city council, who shared a vote of no confidence in him, but he feels that he can work with anyone if they are working for the same people, meaning the citizens of Hailey.

"Lindley is talking about how there is no long term planning, but the comprehensive plan was just finished and he had ten months as mayor to put something in place," McBryant said expressing some of the contention between the candidates. "I went out and negotiated $71,000 for the city in the (planned unit development) for Copper Ranch."

"I see a lot of nodding heads as opposed to bringing up different problems," countered Lindley.


Costs of development?

The costs to the city and impacts on city services associated with development, whether in the city’s current boundaries or as a part of coming annexation, were a main thread for many citizens at the Pizza and Politics event.

"Where is threshold between providing a sense of place and convenience?" Planning and Zoning Commissioner Trent Jones asked the candidates, expressing a common sentiment about the pitfalls of urbanization.

"I’m not a proponent of the big box convenience store," McBryant said, acknowledging that increased convenience is a part of growth in the community.

Lindley said growth was going to occur and still impact the city, but the limitations of a the federal land surrounding the city had been good for protecting the sense of place, but other than sewer he thought long range planning was still lacking.

He believes the comprehensive plan is used more to patch problems as they come along.

McBryant argues that the plan like zoning ordinances can always be reworked.


Drawing new businesses

Both candidates are proponents of fostering businesses operating in the community.

Lindley stresses the importance of fostering cooperation between city government, the economic development committee, the Chamber of Commerce and the school district as a means to success in the central business district. He emphasizes that he has a good working relationship with each of the groups.

McBryant said she already has a good working relationship with the groups.

In closing McBryant said it is an honor for her to serve as mayor. "At the end of the day I think I have done something and I’ve improved it."

Lindley, who had the last word at the debate, said there had been no leadership in the last 10 months and that McBryant had never met with the economic development committee before she became mayor.

"That’s what leadership does," McBryant said. As mayor she has met with the economic development committee that Lindley has chaired, but since their meeting she has heard nothing from them, she said.

Lindley said he is concerned that the city budget that has jumped 17 percent and that if elected he is committed and will put in all the time it takes to do the job. He wants to give the voters a choice.

McBryant explained that the city is growing at a rate of about 7 percent, which is a cycle that she believes will slow with changes in the economy, but she believes that the budget is in line with the unparalleled growth, especially, commercial growth in Hailey. Part of the size of the budget for fiscal year 2003-2004 is accounted for by large one-time expenditures like the $2.4 million for a new city water tank up Quigley Canyon.

As more signs pop up in support of each candidate, one thing is certain. Hailey has its first mayoral race since former mayor Brad Siemer defeated Davis six years ago.



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