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.