There's a new county commissioner representing north Blaine County.
Before a packed room of supporters at the Old Blaine County Courthouse in Hailey, Ketchum resident Angenie McCleary, 31, was sworn in by County Commissioner Tom Bowman as the new District 3 Blaine County Commissioner. McCleary replaces longtime Commissioner Sarah Michael, a Democrat from north of Ketchum who retired to make time for personal endeavors.
"Now, are you sure you want to do this?" Bowman kidded her.
McCleary will serve out the remainder of Michael's term, which terminates on Jan. 11, 2011. An election in November 2010 will determine who will fill the seat for the term to follow.
Moments after McCleary's swearing in, first-term County Commissioner Larry Schoen commented on the many supporters gathered to give her a proper sendoff into public life.
"I want to note: This many people didn't show up when I got sworn in," he quipped.
Schoen said a recent discussion he had with a representative of the Idaho Association of Counties revealed McCleary is now the youngest county commissioner in all of Idaho. Nevertheless, he said he has no doubt her past public service and volunteer experiences will serve McCleary well as she begins the task of learning her new full-time job.
"She has a lot of experience," he said. "I look forward to working with her."
McCleary got a jumpstart into her new job Wednesday, when she made an appearance at the opening of the new Blaine County Public Safety Facility, which includes a new jail, sheriff's office and dispatch center.
Because commission seats are elected on a partisan basis, an established process was followed to replace Michael with a fellow Democrat. The Blaine County Democrats were asked to nominate to Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter three candidates for the post. The group nominated McCleary, Adam Bohrer, and Jon Thorson, a member of the county Planning and Zoning Commission who had served one term as mayor of Sun Valley.
Otter announced McCleary's selection late Tuesday afternoon. In her new full-time position on the Commission, McCleary will earn $52,755 a year.
McCleary holds a master's degree in social work from the University of Washington. Although she has not served in an elected office, she has held several positions in the public sector. She has spent the last year working as a social worker at Wood River Middle School in Hailey. She has also served on the Community Drug Coalition, St. Luke's Center for Community Health Advisory Council, Safe and Drug Free Schools Committee and the YAK! Blaine County Youth Partnership, which she founded.
Speaking to the public after her swearing in, an obviously elated McCleary said she's long dreamed of entering public life.
"It just happened a little sooner than I thought," she said just moments before taking her seat next to fellow commissioners Bowman and Schoen.
"I'm just overjoyed," she said. "I look forward to working with all of you.
"I want everybody to feel I'm approachable."
Perhaps the most significant show of support for McCleary came from one of her fellow commissioner nominees, former Sun Valley Mayor Jon Thorson.
After hearing her presentation to Blaine County Democratic Party officials and following that up with a face-to-face meeting, Thorson said he told his wife, "I've just switched my top candidate from me to Angenie."
"I know you will do a good job," Thorson told McCleary before her swearing in Thursday morning.
And it's not just county Democrats who are wishing McCleary good luck as she tackles the many requirements and complications of her new position. Speaking Wednesday, Ketchum resident Maurice Charlat, chairman of the Blaine County Central Committee of the Idaho State Republican Party, said he's known McCleary for several years.
He described her as a "very levelheaded, bright person" whose experience will serve her well.
"I wish her well," he said. "She's got her work cut out for her."
Charlat wouldn't speculate as to what McCleary's appointment might mean for the local Republican Party fielding a District 3 candidate in 2010.
"I want her to succeed," he said.