Winter drivers with even a little experience know that when driving on slick roads that sudden moves can send a car or truck into places it should never go—into a ditch or into a crash.

This year’s local elections are the same. A swerve this way or that or a sudden slam on the brakes could have disastrous consequences in Ketchum and Hailey.

Their elected officials served them well during the tumultuous and dangerous COVID-19 pandemic, which continues. Proving that they can walk and chew gum, they not only instituted public health measures, they evaluated and moved on other important initiatives.

When the newspaper evaluated competing candidates for city offices this year, we looked for candidates with strong knowledge of how municipal governments function, the extent of their powers and how to use that knowledge to protect and prioritize public needs.

We looked for candidates with personal experience in dealing with the challenges faced by working residents of our resort towns. We looked for those who could readily undertake the public policy balancing acts necessary to keep the vibrant local economy humming.

Not every election presents voters with a crop of seasoned candidates with deep understanding of the needs of their towns and the know-how to address those needs.

City councils and mayors in Idaho can’t do just any old thing they want—even if they agree. Despite lip service that lauds local control, the Idaho Legislature has seen to it that city governments may not roam outside the legal fences it has built around them.

It often takes people new to public office an entire term before they figure out what those boundaries are and how to operate within them.

Local voters have the rich possibility on Nov. 2 to return incumbents to office who met the challenges of a global pandemic and still managed to engage residents and implement important city improvements and housing projects.

Voters should return the incumbents to city offices that are listed below.

Ketchum City Election

For Mayor, Neil Bradshaw: When he first ran for office in 2017, Bradshaw said he wanted to generate middle- and low-income housing and move City Hall out of its dilapidated offices. He has done both along with convincing voters to approve a $11.5 million bond issue that built the just-opened new fire station.

His style has been collaborative. He brooks dissent with good humor. He hasn’t let perfect stand in the way of possible.

He convinced the City Council to spend $3.1 million to buy an existing building for a new City Hall. He revived the Ketchum Community Development Corp. to develop housing and saw the City Council recently approve the 51-unit Bluebird Village housing development on the site of the old City Hall.

He brought momentum to a city that had been mired in inertia and plagued by missteps. Voters should give this energetic leader another four years.

For City Council, Amanda Breen: An attorney, Breen has been a steady voice of reason on the council. She brought facts to the table to counter fiction about public health during the uncertainties of the pandemic.

Breen’s practical, no-nonsense approach to issues has allowed the council to act favorably to develop new workforce housing and a new hotel.

Her solid leadership, mastery of the details of complex city issues and ability to debate clearly have kept the city out of thorny thickets that could have left it stalled and flailing.

She has guarded taxpayer dollars while encouraging the local economy, businesses and residents at the same time.

For City Council, Courtney Hamilton:

She arrived young and green in her first term. But she packed a college degree in public policy and put it to good use. She started out by giving a greenlight to buying a new building for City Hall.

Hamilton didn’t dither when COVID-19 rolled in and voted to use the powers of the city to protect public health. She also voted to reinforce the local economy with development of a major hotel in Ketchum that will come with 23 beds of on-site employee housing.

She voted for Bluebird Village to expand the supply of affordable housing and says she’s looking for more ways to do so.

Hailey City Election

For City Council seat 1, Heidi Husbands:

A history and government teacher who was appointed to a vacant council seat, she stands out as the strongest candidate in the field.

Although she opposed buying property for a town plaza because voters hadn’t yet approved a bond issue, she seems to have put aside her procedural objection and supports using it for public activities. Husbands has supported masks to slow the spread of COVID-19 and advocates development of affordable housing.

She opposed the controversial campground in Croy Canyon, preferring instead to preserve it as wildlife habitat.

For City Council Seat 2, Kaz Thea:

This biologist should be a shoo-in for this seat given that a challenger exerted only the effort to get his name on the ballot.

Thea supported the town plaza buy, opposed the campground and favors affordable housing development. She wants residents to use drought-tolerant landscapes to conserve water. She is enthused about more pedestrian and bike connections for Hailey.

Vote Yes on General Obligation Bond of $1,044,400: The bond would reimburse the city for the purchase of a lot between City Hall and River Street to create a town plaza. It would cost residents $21 per $100,000 of property value over five years.

A town plaza would enhance life in Hailey’s heart. It could host small events and provide space for outdoor lunches and meetups. Land has only gotten more expensive in the last several years and a thumbs-up on this likely will end up looking like a great buy in years to come.


“Our View” represents the opinion of the newspaper editorial board, which is made up of members of its board of directors. Remarks may be directed to editorialboard@mtexpress.com.

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