Candidate for: Sandpoint City Council
City of residence: Sandpoint
Years of residence in Sandpoint and Bonner County: 6 years in Bonner County (Dover, Sandpoint); 1 year in Sandpoint
Marital status/family: Single
[email protected] or call 208-946-0174
Education: Bachelor of Science from the University of Idaho, Moscow
Recent or pertinent employment history: Natural resource management – 9 years; the last 6 years have been with the soil and water conservation district in Sandpoint. Work involved assisting agricultural producers in addressing natural resource concerns, usually involving soil and water quality and noxious weed management. I was also actively involved in education and outreach programs, including Lake*A*Syst and Panhandle SEEP. I participated in the Bonner County Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force and the County’s Land Use Code ad hoc committee. I recently accepted employment with the Coeur d' Alene Tribe's Lake Management Department.
Public offices held: None
Nonprofit groups, service or professional organizations to which you belong:
- Graduate of Leadership Idaho Agriculture (2006)
- Vice-Chair of Panhandle Stormwater and Erosion Education Program (SEEP)
- Tri-State Water Quality Council
What particular experiences or skills qualify you for office?
- Experience in planning – both on-farm conservation plan development and watershed-scale planning
- Experience in collaborative processes
- History of partnership with City staff in identifying and implementing improvement projects to enhance the community and protect our natural resources
- Ability to hear all sides of an issue and work toward consensus
- Knowledge of state and federal stormwater, water quality, and shoreline regulations
Your positions on key issues:
1. Among the myriad issues facing the city at present, what do you consider the single most important issue, and why? Please also describe any other issues you feel are important.Planning for the future. Sandpoint is currently making important decisions about how it carries out its Comprehensive Plan. It is important to ensure that we strive to accomplish the vision of the Comprehensive Plan, to maintain the small town character of Sandpoint, ensure the safety of its citizens, provide for a viable economic future, and protect the precious resources that bring folks here. The first step is revising the zoning code, which will help shape the City's future.
2. The city held an election in May for a $20.5 million bond to expand and renovate the city’s lake water treatment plant, which was defeated. The bond proposal will again be on the ballot on Nov. 3, this time for an amount of $17 million. Do you favor or oppose the bond, and why?
One option that has not been well debated publicly is that of water conservation measures, particularly during peak water use in summer. This is when the lake treatment plant is utilized. Drinking water treatment plants are generally sized to accommodate irrigation. Household and commercial uses are lower in volume than irrigation. Water conservation could be utilized to minimize costs for taxpayers.
Regardless, I do support the proposed bond. The question is not "if," but "when" we increase our treatment capacity, and the current bond appears to be the most logical, economical approach. The City’s water use is going to continue to grow, and it makes sense to ensure we have the capacity to provide for the future. The bond on the upcoming vote would allow the City's water treatment plant to expand its capacity with the minimum possible cost increase to rate payers. In addition, this bond would be supplemented with funds from USDA Rural Development. The alternatives are to:
1) Do nothing, which would encourage sprawl to outlying areas and reduce available service to existing customers.
2) Perform the expansion in the future, which will cost much more. Nobody wants to pay more – these are tough times, but putting the expansion off may be more devastating financially in the future.
3. The Federal Aviation Administration has voted to cut off all funding for the Sandpoint Airport, located in the city limits off North Boyer, due to infractions that arise largely from the Silver Wing fly-in residential development adjacent to the airport. The county is losing $150,000 a year in federal funding, plus possibly millions in grants for capital improvements. Do you consider the airport an important asset, and what actions would you take, if any, to facilitate a resolution?
I believe the airport is a significant asset to Sandpoint's economy, and funding from the FAA is important in maintaining the airport. In addition, securing alternative funding would be difficult, at best, without backing from the FAA. The issues are complex, and I believe my experience working with government agencies on all levels will enable me to be a constructive force in finding a resolution. I would encourage the County to continue its efforts to resolve the issues that brought us to our current conflict, and I would intend to play a strong role in drawing together the various interests, including the City, County, developer, airport board, and FAA.
4. In a tie vote by the council, with the mayor casting the deciding vote, the city recently rejected a call for the city to stop fluoridating its water. The issue may surface again, possibly as an initiative or referendum. Do you favor or oppose the fluoridation of city water, and why?
I believe the uncertainties related to fluoridation are substantial enough to warrant removal of fluoridation from our water treatment process. Fluoride is the only element that is added to our water that does not serve the purpose of making the water safe to drink. The Public Works director has stated that fluoride is not necessary for water treatment, and is an additional cost to treatment.
I believe that people should have the right to decide for themselves whether or not they ingest fluoride. I would fully investigate other ways to get fluoride to those who want it and do not have the means to obtain it. For example, Panhandle Health District provides weekly fluoride rinse to schools in the panhandle that wish to participate. In addition, they contract with a dental hygienist to offer fluoride and sealant protection to eligible children and pregnant women in Idaho's five northern counties (more information is available at phd1.idaho.gov/children/oralhealth.cfm, or by calling PHD in Sandpoint at 263-5159).
5. The Idaho Transportation Department is in its first year of construction on the Sand Creek bypass, with likely 2 to 3 more years to come. Overall are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the construction project and its impacts on the city? What issues do you see arising for the city from the construction and completion of the bypass?
In the short-term, the construction process has had an impact on water quality, City events, traffic, and tourism. Some of these impacts could have been alleviated. The City needs to maintain communication with the contractor to ensure the construction activities improve in the next 2-3 years to accommodate the needs of the City and protect the water quality that flows alongside City Beach and into Lake Pend Oreille and the Pend Oreille River. Installation and maintenance of proper Best Management Practices (BMPs) are critical for the protection of water quality and aquatic habitat. These BMPs need to be monitored regularly for effectiveness.
In the long term, the project will allow Sandpoint to reclaim its downtown. When the bypass is open, the City should insist on management of the downtown streets that ITD now controls. The City could make the downtown area safer for non-motorized transportation and more enticing for shopping and events.
6. One impact of the bypass has been concerns it raises with Burlington Northern Santa Fe about parking and access to the Amtrak stop at the historic Sandpoint train depot. The depot continues as a stop but the building has been closed for months due to disrepair. BNSF is considering to abandon the depot as an Amtrak stop. What would you like to see happen with the depot and Amtrak stop in downtown Sandpoint and what role, if any, would you play as a council member?
The old terminal is a historic beauty, and is the only Amtrak stop in Idaho. It brings people from across the country to enjoy what our area has to offer. Keeping the Amtrak stop in Sandpoint is important to our tourism industry as well as our railroad history. The City should be proactive in looking for sources of funding and maintaining ongoing efforts to save it that do not rely on taxpayers.
7. Growth remains a major issue. The city this year completed a long process to adopt major changes to its comprehensive plan. As a tool to manage growth, are you satisfied with the new comprehensive plan? Describe your own posture toward growth in Sandpoint.
Our population is going to grow. If this is well managed, it will add to the vitality of the City, helping residents and businesses alike. The huge public turnout for the comprehensive planning process shows that people want to direct growth, have it fit in well, and not lead to sprawl. I feel the Comprehensive Plan is a quality tool we can work with to accomplish the goals and vision of the Sandpoint populace. We can ensure that Sandpoint will maintain its small town character and provide adequate services if the City moves forward to give the Comprehensive Plan legs.
8. One growth-related issue is housing. Do you think the city should play a role or be proactive in securing affordable and work-force housing in Sandpoint?
The City has a number of means to encourage affordable housing in Sandpoint, including zoning and density rules. These elements are part of the next step in the planning and zoning process, which should be carried out with affordable housing in mind. An important component of our economy is ensuring an adequate employment base – we must be willing to support the workers who keep our economy running. We don't want to see Sandpoint turn into a resort community where workers have to commute long distances and work multiple jobs - where housing prices are through the roof. Sandpoint is a community for everyone.
9. How would describe the economy of Sandpoint today? What role do you see for the City Council to play in creating a healthy local economy?
Sandpoint's economy is diverse, including manufacturing, tourism, retail, natural resources, and service industries. One major role for the City is to assure that its services make Sandpoint appealing: a clean lake; parks and recreational opportunities; good police, fire control, and disaster response; and well-maintained streets, sidewalks and bicycle lanes. Another role the City can play is to encourage an intellectual base to maintain locally-employable citizens and make Sandpoint an appealing place for employers, as well. The City should strive to foster partnerships with workforce training institutions.
10. Why are you running for public office? If you are elected, how much time will you be able to devote each week to your position?
I feel I can make a positive contribution to the City both today and in shaping its future. I choose to be here because of the diverse and connected community and the unparalleled natural beauty of the area. I am committed to making sure our community remains a great place to work, live, and recreate. I feel my experience and perspective can provide a valuable contribution to City Council and add to the diversity of its representation.
If elected, I will dedicate sufficient time to educate myself on the issues at hand – well enough to make sound decisions for the community.