Ray Miller


Ray Miller

Age: 63
Years of residence: 40
Marital status/family: Wife Betsy, daughters, Ann  and Meridith  both grown
How can the public contact you?
[email protected] or by phone: work, 263-3310 or home, 263-6063
Web site

Education: B.A. History  M.A. Education
Recent employment history: Retired teacher 30 years at Sandpoint High School
Public offices held:
1982-2002, Sandpoint City Council. 2002 to present, Mayor
Nonprofit groups, service or professional organizations to which you belong:
  • Former trustee Sandpoint/ Bonner Co Library Board
  • Panhandle Area Council Board of Directors
  • Association of Idaho Cities Legislative Committee
  • Bonner Community Housing Agency Board of Directors
What particular experiences or skills quality you for office?
I have been the Mayor for 5 years.

Candidate positions
1. Among the myriad issues facing the city at present, what do you consider the single most important issue facing the City of Sandpoint?
Managing the growth and keeping the city affordable for our residents while not having to reduce our level of service.

2. Housing prices have increased dramatically in Sandpoint, while local wages are increasing far more slowly – effectively precluding many residents who work in the local economy from purchasing a home. For the past year city staff and a group of local employers have been searching for housing solutions. What are your ideas for creating affordable housing for our residents who work here?
Seeing the need and the mistakes made by other communities, we engaged a consultant to gather the empirical evidence we needed which led to the movement among employers and citizens that resulted in the Bonner Community Housing Agency, which is working to become a land trust for work-force housing. None of that would have happened if I as Mayor had not cast the tie-breaking vote. We also need to continue on the other end by attracting and creating higher paying employment.

3. Two resort city tax proposals will be on the ballot in November. Do you favor or oppose continuing the existing 5% tax on lodging? Do you favor or oppose the new proposed 2% tax on liquor by the drink? And in each case, why?
I support them both. Tourists bring a good economic climate but also require much in services. This is an excellent way to take some of the burden off the city tax payer. It also provides property tax relief.

4. What conditions – for example, impact fees or provisions for affordable housing – should the city place on requests by adjacent property owners for annexation into the city?
They should be subject to impact fees and provide a certain amount of sustainable affordable work force housing. The minute the area is annexed we have to provide the services; however, it broadens the base to spread fees and taxes.

5. Downtown traffic and parking are two oft-cited city ills. There are efforts currently under way by the City and the DSBA to improve parking. Do you think these efforts are on the right track?  What would you do to improve parking downtown?
We lost a great opportunity when we refused the Panhandle State Bank’s parking facility. It's going to take more than one solution. The City lot alone will not meet the need. We also need to look at our parking requirements and re-evaluate the ratio. 

6. Although the Idaho Transportation Department was recently granted a permit for the Sand Creek bypass, it has conditions to meet and also faces a lawsuit from opponents. As the bypass will have major impacts on the city, voters want to know where candidates stand. First: Do you favor or oppose the Sand Creek route for a bypass, and why? Second: Among the issues involved, an offer by ITD to give the city land alongside the bypass in exchange for maintaining a new park has been a matter of contention; do you favor or oppose that proposal? Third: ITD has made no commitment to turn control of the Highway 95 route along First, Cedar and Fifth back to the city after the bypass is built; do you believe that should be a condition for the city to support the bypass?
I do now and have always supported the Sand Creek Byway. It is a natural traffic corridor and as long as the railroad is there (which will be forever) that's where the highway should be. The land offer is only a matter of contention for those who are wanting to thwart the Byway. Whoever is saying the City won't get the streets returned is spreading an unfounded rumor. Remember, however, even with the Byway, Fifth Avenue is still State Highway 2.

7. On traffic issues: even if construction of the bypass begins soon, ITD says it will take several years to build. Do you believe the city should seek traffic solutions more immediately – and what would they be?
The Urban Area Transportation Plan, a cooperative project between Dover, the Independent Highway District, Kootenai, Ponderay and Sandpoint is almost finalized. In it are numerous mitigation solutions for the current traffic and the projected 2026 traffic; street-by-street and intersection-by-intersection, it provides answers. The only answer not there is how do we pay for it.

8. 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 am seeking my second and last term as Mayor to finish many of the projects I began. I have spent much of my life in service to the City of Sandpoint and it's difficult to walk out on an unfinished job. I will devote as much time as I do now, at least 8 hours a day and all the extra meetings and events. I have often thought about returning to teaching to get some time off.

9. Describe any other issues you believe are important; why you consider them important; and your position on these issues.
Two areas I feel need addressed: City Council Districts and City Administrator.

Sandpoint is larger and will get more so. We need to assure the entire electorate has equal representation. Right now, four of the six Council members live within a few hundred feet of each other and a great portion of the city has less representation. Council districts will insure that each area has equal representation.

Sandpoint is now a $31,000,000 a year business and should have professional leadership. We can't always guarantee electing someone that is qualified and there is no standard that has to be met. Freeing the Mayor to have more time to interact with the community while the Administrator handles the day-to-day business makes the citizens feel more connected and keeps the city running smoothly.