The Ketchum City Council on Monday voted unanimously to appoint Mayor-elect Nina Jonas to serve as the city’s representative on the new Sun Valley Air Service Board.
The decision was reached after each council member agreed that while they should eventually look at appointing a private citizen with substantial expertise, it is important to have an elected official serve for the first year.
“There is a feeling that there should be an elected official for the first term,” Councilman Baird Gourlay said. “We want someone who’s really up to speed and we need to choose someone sooner rather than later because there are a lot of things they need to do starting Jan. 1.”
Each member of the board will serve a one-year term and will be tasked with overseeing the administration of a new 1 percent local-option sales tax to support commercial air service to the Wood River Valley. Ketchum, Sun Valley and Hailey will all have representatives on the board, while Blaine County will have a non-voting member on the panel.
Although Gourlay was adamant in his belief an elected official should serve on the board for now, he insisted he’s very open to appointing a private citizen in the future.
“I believe down the road if we can find someone with law experience as well as some marketing experience, it’d be great for the team.”
“I believe down the road if we can find someone with law experience as well as some marketing experience, it’d be great for the team,” Gourlay said. “That’s a discussion we should have as well up here, but that person is not going to be found in two weeks.”
Councilman Jim Slanetz said that while he initially hoped to find a knowledgeable private citizen for the board, he feels the time constraints meant an elected official should be appointed for the first term. Fellow Councilman Michael David echoed his sentiments.
“I feel pretty strongly that this should be an elected official,” David said. “This is the taxpayers’ money and at least in the beginning it should be an elected official who’s representing the city and the taxpayers’ money.”
Gourlay said another reason he believed an elected official should serve for the first year is because it would be much easier to hold them accountable for their actions on the board than it would be for a private citizen. As of now, the new board does not have any scheduled meetings.
The unanimous approval of Jonas as Ketchum’s member was also influenced by the Sun Valley City Council’s decision to appoint Mayor Dewayne Briscoe as their member. During the meeting, Jonas—who is now a council member—said she understood the importance of the selection.
“I feel that for the first year of this board there’s going to be so much coordination with the staff with how the administrative process will be,” she said. “There will also have to be a lot of legal considerations with how the elected bodies will be involved. It appears to be a very large task, and what is being set up will require a better understanding of how things will operate.”
Eric Avissar: firstname.lastname@example.org