Veteran City Councilwoman Martha Burke will take her seat as mayor of Hailey today, continuing a 28-year stretch of public service.
A swearing-in ceremony for Burke and City Council members-elect Juan Martinez and Sam Linett will take place at 5:30 p.m. followed by a public celebration at The Mint on Main Street at 6 p.m.
Burke has served on the council for 26 years. Before that, she served on the Planning and Zoning Commission for two years. During that time, she has seen the city grow by leaps and bounds while striving to upgrade and maintain infrastructure and amenities.
“I am honored to be elected,” Burke said. “I want to do the best job I can do with the best advice I can get.”
Burke’s new post will include setting City Council agendas, responding to public comments and weighing in on the many issues that face city leaders, staff and their departments. Her vote would break a tie in case the council is split on a decision.
“The responsibility is huge,” Burke said. “The job description says it covers looking out for the public’s health, safety and welfare, but it’s also about everything else in between, all the things that make a city function.”
Burke is retired. While running for office, unopposed this election, she touted her spare time and “pile of experience.” Yet she concedes that being mayor could present new challenges.
“I’m comfortable being a team player and letting go of disagreements as a council member,” she said. “But the mayor is responsible for the city. It will be like ‘the buck stops here.’”
Burke said she would support promoting more communitywide events like Night of Music, which took place a decade ago and brought music and dance into the streets of Hailey.
“Our greatest challenge will continue to be finding ways to allow families to buy or rent houses here. If they commute to the valley, they cannot always attend kids plays and teachers conferences,” she said.
Burke said she is already in the planning stages of “embedding” into city code and policies some of the sustainability priorities that have been gathered by the city’s new Resiliency Committee.
“We could set a date for reaching net-zero carbon emissions,” she said. “Many of these actions could be done administratively [without a public hearing and vote].”
Burke said her immediate priorities will include making sure that the city communicates well with the city of Bellevue about the ongoing area-of-city-impact negotiations.
“There was not a good dialogue before,” she said.
Burke said one issue coming down the pike that will likely hit the City Council agenda for public input is a possible Dumke property development proposal on more than 100 acres west of town. She said a newly proposed apartment complex on River Street suitable for workforce housing could also come through.
“I already got a heads up on that,” she said.