Two candidates are running for the Second District seat on the Blaine County commission: Incumbent Democrat Jacob Greenberg and Independent Kiki Tidwell. (Incumbent Democrat Dick Fosbury is running unopposed for the commission’s First District seat.) Here are Greenberg and Tidwell, in their own words.
Occupation: Financial analyst, former small-business owner
Public service experience: County commissioner since 2008, current chair, chair of the Friedman Memorial Airport board, Idaho Public Safety Communication Commission, Local Emergency Planning Committee, EMS Council, Idaho Association of Counties vice chair of Transportation Committee, Pubic Lands Committee, NACO Public Lands Committee, Ambulance District board, FSVA, SVED, Innovation and Testing Task Force, etc.
Education: B.S. in business administration/accounting
Reason for running: I’m a proven leader with strong community, state and federal relationships necessary to navigate the challenges facing Blaine County. I’ll work to protect public health and safety, help our businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, create housing for workers, protect our climate through local actions and ensure public access.
How has your background prepared you to serve on the county commission? As a Blaine County business owner, local financial consultant, a 38-year resident, parent whose children matriculated through both the private and public-school system, I understand the needs of our community. Business owners, leaders of the School District, former headmaster of the Community School and elected officials endorse me.
If elected, what would be your top priority? I will collaborate to safely navigate us through this pandemic and provide for a strong economic recovery with an effective mitigation strategy that keeps us safe and inspires tourism. I will fight to retain access to public lands, continue to increase housing opportunities and build a regional office of sustainability.
What is the county’s role in ensuring an adequate supply of affordable housing in Blaine County? The Blaine County comprehensive plan states that housing that is affordable is vitally important to the economic and social success of our county. Instituting land use policies such as the Community Housing Overlay District, establishing a tax exemption ordinance under IC 63-602NN and contributing to local housing related nonprofits creates housing.
What is your goal for the Idaho Power transmission line and what do you see as the next step to getting there? Idaho Power has PUC permission to build a redundant overhead transmission line between Hailey and Ketchum at no cost to ratepayers. The differential between the PUC approved plan and any more costly alternative will be paid by the ratepayers. The Blaine County commissioners will survey the public to determine the preferred option.
Occupation: Investor; angel investor in clean-tech startup companies, family office investor in bonds, real estate and alternative investments, i.e. hedge funds, real estate, venture capital funds, mezzanine debt funds, project lending, mission investor with investments in workforce housing and solar farm lending. President of a charitable family foundation.
Public service experience: Won a groundbreaking 2009 shareholder initiative with Idaho Power; Idahoans got back $17 million from shutting down coal plants. Served on Governor’s Council for Families and Children, Idaho Community Foundation board, finance committee and grants panels, Idaho Children’s Trust Fund grants panels, Animal Shelter board. Advocate for renewable energy for 20 years in Idaho.
Education: Bachelor of Science in business administration hotel restaurant management University of Denver, fellow Kauffman Fellows post-secondary Venture Capital and Innovation Leadership Program, The Appraisal Institute, Institute of Real Estate Management, Stanford Continuing Studies, Wharton University of Pennsylvania Executive Education.
Reason for running: This transmission line is not a real solution; no power got to Hailey in during the 2009 outage. I was an intervenor at the PUC against this line. Commissioner Greenberg was not and has offered to Idaho Power to raise our utility bills by 37 percent to pay for undergrounding north of Hailey.
How has your background prepared you to serve on the county commission? I have dug into the county budgets. My financial training enables me to focus on the important metrics—we don’t have to raise property taxes. As an involved philanthropist, I understand the needs of all county residents. Have regularly attended commission meetings for 17 months and am up to speed on the issues.
If elected, what would be your top priority? Getting Idaho Power to switch their backup power project from a nonsolution transmission line to a real solution of batteries/backup generators at all of our substations in the county, not raising property taxes annually 3 percent like my opponent has done each year, and getting a light at Ohio Gulch intersection.
What is the county’s role in ensuring an adequate supply of affordable housing in Blaine County? Not by giving away over $3 million of county land to favored cronies like my opponent has done. The county can be a low-interest lender on apartments and get a stream of modest income from these projects and also provide cash stipends to homeowners to rent long-term rather than Airbnbs.
What is your goal for the Idaho Power transmission line and what do you see as the next step to getting there? RFP for actual current prices on backup generators, batteries and smart meter demand response programs, which can reduce load interactively lowering thermostats by a couple degrees. Go back to the PUC with these numbers as the more cost-effective solution instead of all Idaho ratepayers paying $14 million of Ketchum’s undergrounding.