I'm running for re-election as Blaine County Commissioner because I'm a proven and experienced leader with the strong community relationships necessary to successfully navigate the challenges facing our county.
I want to continue working with other elected officials, organizations and individuals to protect public health and safety, help our local economy and businesses make a strong recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, create attainable housing, protect our climate through local actions and ensure our public access to public lands and waters.
LIST OF ISSUES
Public access to our most treasured resources is why we live here and it’s one of the foundations of our tourism economy. Many of our small businesses and the people who work for them rely on access to public lands and rivers. As a commissioner, I support the county’s long history of requiring access to the river as part of the subdivision process and I will continue to support it going forward. Public access is an important part of our economy, but it’s also a community value I will stand strong on.
My focus on the creation and funding of a county Office of Sustainability is helping the county to make genuine progress on our local governments' climate impacts. The Office of Sustainability’s initial work to make changes within county operations will set the stage for resources and services the county can provide for all jurisdictions to tap in to, creating a coordinated effort that reduces Blaine County’s climate impacts.
Blaine County also created the first electric vehicle charging station with grant funding. Expanding this effort to offer stations in additional locations throughout the county will ensure residents and visitors can re-charge vehicles as they travel not only within the county but through the region.
I’m working hard to identify the best plan to address Idaho Power’s proposed redundant transmission line. My committee and consultants met with the Public Utilities Commission staff and representatives from Idaho Power to discuss opportunities to reduce the cost of undergrounding power lines, which are to be borne by Blaine County residents. Once we have determined that we have a final cost estimate, it will be presented to the public for comment and to express ideas about a consensus way forward. I’ve voted to give Blaine County the best negotiating position in this process, and I’ll keep working to reduce impacts to our scenic corridor, taxpayers and the climate. This is not to say that there aren’t other alternatives which may be employed, but we need to be mindful that the PUC has primacy over this issue and has given Idaho Power the go ahead to construct an overhead line. It also instructed the utility to work with the local jurisdiction in arriving at an agreeable way to construct that line.
Economic Recovery from Covid-19
During the first days of the pandemic, we had to act to prioritize public health. Decisive action enabled us to successfully bring community spread under control. Now that Blaine County and the State of Idaho are re-opening, we must take equally decisive action to ensure economic success while keeping the public safe. I’ve taken the lead on bringing outside experts and resources to bear on the key role Covid-19 testing will play in our community’s recovery. Soon, our community will have a testing program that will be a model for communities throughout the state, thanks to partnerships I’ve helped put in place with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, St. Luke’s Foundation and Crush The Curve. The key to success is expanded testing, contact tracing and selective isolation for those who test positive.
Public Health and Safety
As your commissioner, I’ve voted to increase funding and investment in our emergency services, including ambulance services, because public health and safety is a top priority. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, I worked with Governor Little’s office to quickly enact a self-isolation order on our county to protect citizens, visitors, and health workers by stopping community spread in what was Idaho’s hottest spot of the disease.
Housing in Our County
Housing is a key issue for the health of our community and our economy. I’ve worked to deliver a stable county budget that prioritizes key issues. Recently, I helped ARCH Community Housing Trust secure 60 units of attainable housing by championing the county’s donation of $500,000 in cash and land to the project which was years in the making. The county’s donation of the old Blaine Manor site on Main Street in Hailey and the cash contribution helped bring over $8 million more in funding to the project. 30 of the units are senior housing and 30 are for families.
The housing crisis in our county is not just about supply, it’s about cost, too. Private, market rate housing development won’t meet all the needs. I’m proud to support county funding for projects like the one on the old Blaine Manor site because we must address the issue of affordability thru public investment, too. The county can make additional commitments on this issue, including the creation of a fund to support below market-rate housing which a non-profit would manage.