The most significant race on Burley ballots on Nov. 7 is the mayoral contest between incumbent Merlin Smedley and challenger Steve Ormond.
The candidates offer voters a stark contrast. Ormond is a banker with expertise in economic development. He’s well-spoken, polished and professional.
Smedley paints himself as a more hardscrabble candidate. At a forum earlier this month, he said his greatest achievement was rising from Burley’s north side to become mayor.
No doubt Smedley deserves praise for Burley’s progress under his leadership. But now is the time to hand over the baton to someone more qualified to shepherd the city through its next stage of economic growth.
Ormond is that candidate.
The city is at a pivotal moment. New and old businesses alike are creating jobs at break-neck speeds. Problem is, some companies are having a hard time finding qualified workers and are recruiting from outside the state just to fill jobs and keep factories humming. But some of those workers have had to turn down positions because they couldn’t find adequate housing.
That’s a tough nut to crack, and no mayor will be able to solve the problem alone. But we believe Ormond is a better choice for the city because he’s better suited to meet those challenges, both because of his background in finance and his personality.
Besides the mayoral race, voters will be asked to choose three councilman. There are four candidates, meaning all but one will be elected.
In practical terms, that means voters must essentially choose the one candidate they’d rather not have on the City Council.
Casey Andersen and Jon. R. Anderson are incumbents who deserve to remain on the Council. They’ve served with integrity and professionalism.
That leaves Ralph Carlson, a retired telecommunications engineer who recently moved back to Burley, and one more incumbent, Bryce Morgan, an accountant.
Carlson deserves credit for attending a public forum hosted by the Times-News, where voters learned more about this political newcomer. Morgan did not attend, leaving some questions about his candidacy unanswered.
Still, we believe the choice is clear: Morgan deserves the seat.
Carlson simply isn’t prepared for the complex issues before the Council, partly because he’s only just now returned to the city. This community is much different from the one he left to follow his career.
Moreover, anyone can spot the problems facing Burley; political leaders set themselves apart because they bring solutions to the table. We’re not sure Carlson has done enough to assure voters he’s the man with those solutions.
At 37, Morgan is at the beginning of his political career with a background better suited for community leadership. He wants the city to focus on shoring up infrastructure — sewer and water lines, roads, etc. — that must be in place before the city can move to the next level in its economic development plan. He also rightly sees that housing is an immediate problem that needs attention, and his idea to bore down and bring a forward-thinking approach to planning and zoning procedures is the right kind of thinking for a city trying to manage its increasing prosperity.
Here’s the good news for voters in Heyburn: There’s no shortage of strong candidates seeking seats on the City Council.
Here’s the tougher news: There are five candidates for three seats, creating a slightly muddied race that could turn out to be a toss-up. Only a handful of votes are likely to swing this election.
The candidates are incumbent Dick Galbraith along with Nile Bohon, Glen Loveland, Chad Anderson and Michael Covington. Anderson currently holds a two-year seat that Rose Schmitt is running for unopposed.
All the candidates agree that managing the city’s growth while retaining its rural roots is a top challenge for the next Council.
Loveland is a former mayor and a Realtor; he’d feel at home returning to the Council, and his experience in real estate gives him key insight into growth challenges. Covington is also a Realtor, and at just 27 years old, he believes he’s best suited to connect with a new generation of Heyburn residents and the millennials the city hopes to attract to its expanding population. Galbraith is a self-employed builder, another candidate with a background keyed into growth issues. Bohon also has a background in construction.
Among the candidates, only Anderson, a 30-year-old mail carrier, lacks a pedigree in construction, building or real estate.
But Anderson holds an advantage because he’s already served on the Council, and he has specific plans to build community spirit and bring the city’s water department into the black.
We also like Covington’s youthful ambition. The young professional is green, but we believe he’s up to the challenge.
Galbraith’s experience — 19 years on the Minidoka County Planning and Zoning Commission and four years on the City Council — will be valuable to help mentor the city’s young new leaders.
Bohon hasn’t done enough to convince us he deserves a City Council seat. He skipped a candidate forum earlier this month, and in a questionnaire for our voter guide, his answers were vague. Not a good strategy for winning a newspaper endorsement.
We applaud Anderson for his years of dedication and service to Heyburn; it’s clear he loves his community. But a new generation of leaders is ready to step up, and we believe it’s now their time to lead.
In a crowded field with no shortage of qualified candidates, we think Anderson, Covington and Galbraith will strike the right balance between institutional knowledge and new ideas.
Suzanne Hawkins and Greg Lanting have served on the Twin Falls City Council with integrity and honor. They participated in all of their meetings and assignments with intelligence and enthusiasm to conclude to positive decisions for the Twin Falls city residences.
Suzanne is a small-business owner who represents small-business and all business owners as well as their employees. She does so with knowledge and hard work.
Greg has many years of serving the public from the school system to all of the citizens of the city of Twin Falls. His tenure was done so with complete transparency in all of his endeavors.
I ask you and encourage you to cast your vote for these two fine candidates.
Buried beneath all of the headline screams about sexual harassment and indictments is some very important work on national tax reform. In Idaho, work on the budget has been going on over the summer as JAFC finalizes their plans for the legislative year. In Twin Falls, there was mention of whether to use additional tax money to increase the budget.
Clearly, the government’s share of the country’s economy is on legislators’ minds. And it’s coming close to Christmas and the end of the tax year, too. We are all facing demands on our income for giving to our loved ones and charitable interests. It’s easy to just say no to all of government’s demands and live our life as we like it.
Several states, notably Kansas, have tried a bare-bones approach to taxation, and it hasn’t worked. George H. W. Bush corrected the tax policies of his predecessor to avoid more debt and was not re-elected. Clearly, there has been a trend toward running for office on promises of cutting taxes even further. “How low can we go” is the feeling of many.
Just in case this squeezing of public funding began to make no sense, there has also been a steady drumbeat castigating social spending. Why should anyone get money or services from a government when they refuse to work and support themselves? (Like me, who has never had anything given to them).
It is time to get more clarity about the expense of government. At the same time, we need to have more open debate on the proper role of government. As it is now, political maneuvering has obscured these two debates with the call to cut taxes.
In order for citizens in our democracy to exercise their civic duty, they need to be able to select their representatives on real issues rather that ad agency concocted, emotionally charged, pseudo agendas.
There are two questions which need to be asked with every issue. Does government have any role in this issue? How much will it cost for government to fulfill that role? In recent years, there has been some effort to address the latter during the debate on the former. I believe that we citizens should push for even more information on cost, but not reject ideas based on cost alone.
In Idaho, infrastructure costs money. Education costs money. Public health costs money. Regulation costs money. As budgets are considered, I would like to see easier access to the facts. What actions are being funded? What actions are proposed for funding? What is the range of funding proposed and what is the absolute minimum that must be spent to have any positive effect?
If there is a bright spot in the morass of the internet, it is the webpage and its ability to organize data credibly. I want government at all levels to present cost information in a way that any citizen can understand. Ideas are fluid and are the lifeblood of political debate, but as public policy seems to get more complicated, citizens have a need to know whether “we can/can’t afford it” has real meaning to them.
How taxes should be levied is the subject for even more consideration, but my point here is that government has always cost money, and if we don’t want to find ourselves in the crisis of many states (and nations) and if we want to govern on reason rather than emotion, we need to pay for the results we want. And I would add, not one penny more.