Candidate for: Bonner County Commissioner, 1st District
Years of residence in Sandpoint and Bonner County: 16
Marital status/family: Married to Barney Phillips. We have a blended family with two sons and three daughters. We have eight grandchildren.
E-mail [email protected] or phone 208-946-7834.
Education and Qualifications:
Recent or pertinent employment history:
Currently employed by First American Title (Business Development, 2007-current)
Bonner County Commissioner (2003-2007)
Public offices held:
Bonner County Commissioner, Chair (2003-2007)
Bonner County Planning Commissioner (2000-2003)
City of Temecula Planning Commissioner, Chair (1994-1999)
Nonprofit groups, service or professional organizations to which you belong:
North Idaho Federated Republican Women
Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce
Women in Business
Selkirk Association of Realtors
Ponderay Community Development Corporation
Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society
1. Why are you running for public office?
I have always believed that our government works best when the elected officials listen to the voice of the people. In recent years, I have become more concerned and convinced that our collective voice has not been welcomed or heard. Having served Bonner County for four years from 2003-2007, many citizens and employees of the county have asked me to return. My leadership style is inclusive and open to hear all ideas and opinions. I have a long held desire to open doors of opportunity for citizen participation and enjoy the process of community involvement driving our positive future growth and prosperity.
2. Describe the top three to five issues you believe are most important; why you believe they are important; and your position on these issues.
3. At local candidate forums, many of the candidates have identified the economy and job creation as issues of concern, especially with the impending closure of Coldwater Creek and the loss of 300-plus jobs. Do you consider this an important issue for county commissioners to deal with? What specific actions would you advocate to improve the economy and jobs?
The economy and opportunity for a living wage job is the foundation of a stable community, therefore, it is a primary concern for county commissioners. While a commissioner cannot actually create a job, they can create a business friendly environment. The first step is to revise land use code, creating opportunity for businesses to locate in our county; review and revise the fee structure, and working together with other entities to do the same; work closely with the economic development agencies and create a team of current county & city professionals, along with interested citizens, to assist businesses looking to develop in or re-locate to Bonner County.
4. An increase in coal trains through Bonner County has potential safety and environmental impacts, and with new shipping terminals proposed on the coast the coal trains traffic could more than double by some estimates. With 132 railroad crossings in the county, the increased train traffic stands to create traffic delays and safety hazards; in the past six months two young women have been killed at unprotected rural railroad crossings in the county. Additionally, Bonner County has seen an increase in the number of trains carrying highly volatile oil, creating a potential public safety hazard. Do you believe the county commissioners should be active on the issue of increased train transport through our county? What is your position on coal and oil trains?
The county commissioners should be actively engaged with the railroad companies, commerce and transportation departments to ensure that all safety precautions are being taken. With the increase in trips and length of trains, I will work with the railroads for placement of safety devices at crossings where there is none. I will work with all safety personnel to ensure that training is current and coordinated. I will work with the railroad companies to provide education to the public and to collaborate together for the best interests of commerce and public safety.
The coal trains are treated to prevent ambient dust and the oil cars are new. These trains are just a portion of the potential hazards that we face. The combination of education, safety training and response, with collaboration involving representative stakeholders is the way to deal with these issues today. I will take an active role in leading this effort.
5. Do you support or oppose wilderness designation for the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness Area? Do you support or oppose the proposed Rock Creek Mine in Montana, which has potential effects on water quality in Lake Pend Oreille? And why, in each case?
a. Scotchman Peaks Wilderness area: As a county commissioner I have actively and still do support the wilderness designation for Scotchman Peaks. I believe that there should be areas set aside for enjoyment and preservation without undue interference from mankind. I believe that there are many opportunities for a balance of various recreational pursuits, and part of that balance includes preserving this pristine wilderness area.
b. Rock Creek Mine: I have long opposed the development of the Rock Creek Mine and while serving as commissioner, I was actively engaged in protecting Bonner County at the federal level. While I understand that some mining interests have great value, this particular project is ill-conceived and the developers have a long history of leaving environmental disasters in their wake. I have seen the mine location, the tailing pile location and the potential negative impact this project would have on our local environment and economy. The benefits gained would be to the citizens of Montana and the financial interests in Canada. Bonner County only stands to suffer the negative impact; I, therefore, remain opposed.6. What role should the county commissioners play in the management and development of the lake? Also, describe your position on control of invasive species in the lake, such as Eurasian Milfoil.
Every possible action needs to be taken to protect our lake from invasive species. Serving as commissioner, I worked with state agencies to treat this aggressive intrusion. We were successful in supporting the efforts of the Cocolalla Lake Association and worked together with the City of Sandpoint to significantly treat and reduce the negative impact of Eurasian Milfoil. I will again work with the state to regain funding for the treatment and protection of Lake Pend Oreille and our other lakes and waterways. The damage caused by zebra mussels and quagga mussels is horrendous. Again, every possible action needs to be taken to protect our waterways from these infestations. The boat inspection practices have been successful in preventing intrusion of these species to our waterways. I will continue to support that effort and work to create specific action plans responding to these concerns with collaboration of all involved government entities and citizens.
7. Do you feel the county has struck the correct balance between taxes and services? If you intend to reduce taxes, what specific services would you eliminate?
Budget authority is given by the county commissioners and they review and approve the expenditures made by the departments and other elected officials. It is my opinion that cost savings can be found to hold down or reduce taxes without eliminating services. As commissioner, I would like to implement a "mid-year" budget review. Often at mid-year reviews, savings are found in unspent budget authority that is no longer needed, thus resulting in a savings that could be carried over to the next budget year which in turn, helps prevent tax increases.
8. What do you believe is the correct course for the county in the SilverWing lawsuit?
Much of the information regarding the details of the lawsuit is attorney-client privileged and unknown to the general public. I have read the subdivision application, public hearing testimony and researched the public record. Because the lawsuit is still in process, it is inappropriate to comment, except to say that I am hopeful it can be resolved without further financial impact to the county and taxpayers.
9. Do you support allocation of resources to the Bonner County Fairgrounds, and at what level – higher, lower or the same as currently?
Idaho statute Title 22, Chapter 2, specifically addresses the limitation of taxation to support the fairgrounds and fair. The tax levy has historically not been sufficient to support the operation of the fairgrounds. When I was commissioner, we provided additional support to the fair through the budgeting process. Our current manager, Rhonda Livingstone has done a great job of utilizing the facility to raise funds, provide a resource to the community and to conduct a fair that represents our rural culture, benefiting families, children and our community.
I would again review the needs and operation of the fairgrounds carefully each year. I consider it as one of our best assets and would do all I can to make sure that it was funded appropriately. If that means allocation of funds at a higher level, then I would find a way to accomplish that goal.
10. What differentiates you from other candidates? Why should people vote for you?
My experience, training and accomplishments set me apart from other candidates. I have more than 11 years of land use planning, training and experience. I have the knowledge and background to immediately begin providing the support needed to assist Bonner County citizens in pursuing careers, businesses, homeownership and dreams. I have four years of experience as county commissioner and led the county through some challenging times with positive outcomes and with proven and successful leadership.
I am trained in the complexities of government finance and budget management. I am well acquainted with appropriate financial procedures and accounting principles.
I have managed two large projects, one being the development and construction of our nationally acclaimed Bonner County Dispatch facility and the other, a remodel and construction project of a private/public facility. Both were completed successfully at or under budget. I am skilled in strategic planning, marketing, customer service, human resources and employee development.
I have the skills and experience in all facets of the position, and I have the passion to serve.
The most important attribute I bring to this position is my love for this county and her people. The people make this community great! It is their voice that needs to be heard! Their ideas and entrepreneurial spirit will make our community better! Their shared needs motivate me to work more diligently to achieve a better plan, to make something easier, and to create opportunity.
Why vote for me? I have the experience and the proven record of significant accomplishments achieved with integrity and transparency. I promise the citizens of Bonner County an honest, open and visible government wherein they are the focus of my service.