Young challengers Sam Linnet, 30, and Juan Martinez, 27, won Hailey City Council seats on Tuesday, replacing incumbents more than twice their ages.
The election results could be a sign that Hailey voters are ready for change and a new vision for the city. The challengers ran campaigns focused on affordable housing, diversity and sustainability in the face of climate change.
Linnet won council Seat 3 with 1,097 votes, beating Jeff Engelhardt, age 64, who got 369 votes.
“Local elections decide community priorities and I’m honored and humbled that Hailey voters have entrusted me with Seat 3 on the City Council,” said Linnet, an attorney in private practice who serves on the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission. “I could not be more excited to be chosen by this town to lead us forward. My immediate hopes are to work with local residents and city staff to develop a concrete plan to address housing, growth and clean energy in the community.”
Martinez won council Seat 4 with 891 votes, beating Cooley, age 61, who received 570 votes.
“I am excited for this change personally, but most of all I am excited for this community,” Martinez said. “We have waited a long time for a moment like this from which to build stronger culture.”
Martinez alone among the candidates has no experience participating in local governance. He ran a campaign based in part on his willingness to learn while on the job.
“Let’s put our dreams on the table and find out where we can go. I am proud to be chosen as a leader, and a voice for my community,” Martinez said. “I look forward to joining a new team and bringing my leadership qualities and enthusiasm to this work. Thank you to everyone who supported my campaign and voted in this important election for the city of Hailey.”
Incumbents Engelhardt and Cooley also expressed concern about sustainability and affordable housing, but apparently did not convince voters that they could bring solutions soon enough.
Engelhardt positioned himself as a pro-business candidate and expressed reluctance to support some publicly supported housing alternatives, whereas Linnet said all options should be on the table.
Cooley, who has decades of experience working with the details of public infrastructure, balked recently at approving very small housing units in Hailey. Martinez said he would be happy to rent a unit the size of a parking space, if it meant not having to leave his hometown.
City Council Chairwoman Martha Burke ran unopposed for mayor, receiving 1,316 votes. As mayor she will be authorized to choose her replacement on the City Council in early January. “I would like to know the level and quality of interest within the community for this appointment, as the new city government has significant work at hand,” Burke said.
The appointed City Council member will serve until the next city election in November 2021, at which time voters will have the opportunity to elect a potential challenger.
Residents interested in serving on the council must be qualified electors of Hailey, meaning they must reside within the city limits of Hailey for at least 30 days prior to seeking the appointment, be at least 18 and a U.S. citizen.
Qualified persons are instructed to contact City Administrator Heather Dawson to arrange for an interview with the mayor, by either calling 208-788-4221, ext. 18 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.