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


Race for Sun Valley mayor heating up

Express Staff Writer

In what will likely be one of the more closely watched election races on Nov. 4, two prominent Sun Valley citizens will square off in an effort to replace David Wilson as the next mayor of Sun Valley.

Jon Thorson, a retired ophthalmologist and pharmaceutical executive, kicked off his campaign in August, before Wilson announced that he would not seek re-election. Latham Williams, a developer and current president of the Sun Valley City Council, announced his campaign in September.

Thorson this week said he is running for mayor to provide leadership in a fashion that values feedback from citizens. "This is an important time for Sun Valley, especially regarding development," he said. "This is a contest about leadership."

Williams said he also believes that the race for mayor "is a question of leadership," asserting that he has the political experience and skills to effectively lead Sun Valley for the next four years. "I want to preserve and enhance the quality of life," he said.

Williams, 42, was elected to the Sun Valley City Council in 1999. He is the president of the Ketchum-Sun Valley Rotary Club and is the regional representative on the state Parks and Recreation Board.


Williams’ platform

Williams said he would maintain three primary goals as mayor of Sun Valley:

  • Protecting hillsides from development by enacting and improving the city’s Hillside Development Ordinance.

  • Preserving open space areas along Sun Valley Road through rewriting the city’s Comprehensive Plan and negotiating with Sun Valley Co.

  • Keeping the city "fiscally sound" with a balanced budget.

Williams said he has a proven record of successfully guiding city policy. He noted that he co-sponsored the city’s recently approved Hillside Development Ordinance, voted in favor of a new ordinance that requires affordable housing in new commercial developments, and has helped the city manage a balanced budget that maintains a cash reserve.

Williams noted that he supports further development of a Wood River Valley public transportation system and implementation of a "Dark Sky Ordinance" that regulates light pollution.

He defended his vote to remand back to the city Planning and Zoning Commission the proposed Sun Villas project in central Elkhorn, rather than voting to deny the much-debated application. "It’s too big to be that close," he said. "The project still needs work, so it was appropriate to remand it to the P&Z."

Above all, Williams said his experience as president of the council for the last three years has afforded him the skills to manage problems that arise at Sun Valley City Hall. "Experience counts."


Thorson’s platform

Thorson, 72, has been a permanent resident of Sun Valley for 15 years. He is a senior member of the St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center Community Board, a seven-year member of the Sun Valley Symphony Board of Directors and a six-year volunteer for the Hospice of the Wood River Valley.

Thorson has not served on any city boards, but has attended nearly every Sun Valley City Council and Planning and Zoning Commission meeting during the last two years. "I love this community. This is a special place," he said. "But in the last two years, I have become aware that that it is hard for citizens to be heard. The attitude coming from city government is, ‘We know what’s best for you.’"

Thorson said his priorities as mayor would be:

  • Ensuring citizens are asked for comments and listened to.

  • Protecting and maintaining property values, particularly by protecting view corridors.

  • Working closely with Sun Valley Co. to ensure its well being and ability to implement its forthcoming 50-year master plan.

  • Limiting the influence of special interests, such as those of developers.

He said he believes the city‘s Hillside Ordinance should have been implemented sooner, before the development of the controversial Crown Ranch Phase 4 housing project. "We need to develop an ordinance to support the vision of the citizens," he said.

Thorson said he would work to support the tourism industry in Sun Valley and Ketchum, as well as implementation of a public transportation system that effectively connects all Wood River Valley communities.

"I am willing to work at this full time," Thorson said. "I have no other ambitions … My eyes are only on Sun Valley."



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