Michael Boge

Michael Boge
Candidate for: Sandpoint City Council

Age: 55
City of residence: Sandpoint
Years of residence in Sandpoint and Bonner County: 15
Marital status/family: Married, wife Anavel and five-year-old daughter Laura
Contact information:
    [email protected] or call 208-263-4282
Education: Graduated Washington State University – BA in Communications, Graduated Spokane Falls Community College – Associate Arts Degree

Recent or pertinent employment history

Public offices held:

Nonprofit groups, service or professional organizations to which you belong:

What particular experiences or skills qualify you for office?
With 14 years of previous city council experience I bring to the table the ability to listen to all sides of the question before forming an opinion. In addition I have extensive business experience from running four businesses' with a staff of 65 plus employees within the North Idaho area.

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.
The Comprehensive Plan is the city council’s most pressing issue at this time. With the investment of countless previous meetings and workshops to hammer out a Comp Plan that reflects the Sandpoint community's needs it is imperative for council to move ahead and transform those needs into Ordinances that reflect the Sandpoint resident's vision. Other key issue's are to keep Sandpoint's budget under rein in this tough economy, work to find funding for the future connection of 5th Avenue and Highway 2, retain business in downtown along with keeping construction impact problems to a minimum in regards to the Byway project.

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?
I oppose the bond. First and foremost the public spoke in May and the city needs to respect the public's decision. This has not happened. Second, five years ago the city council sat at this same table in this same situation and passed along 40% increases to the public in sewer and water rate increases so we would not have to raise rates drastically in the future. Now the same consultant has come back to tell us he could not predict the future and the figures promoted earlier were wrong. The public demands to be treated more fairly. With a foul economy other ways need to be looked at such as simple conservation measures during the two peak water usage months of August and September. When all other options have been explored only then will it be time to sit at the table and discuss increasing capacity from 3 million to a 10 million gallon capacity.

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?
The Sandpoint Airport is a very important asset to this community. Without it many jobs would be lost including one of our most important assets, Quest Aircraft Company. Mistakes obviously have been made in the planning of the Silver Wing fly-in development and dollars are now being lost. The county needs to "unwind" this situation by bringing all affected parties to the table, discussing and then implementing a solution that will solve this problem. Until that is done the problem will only become worse.

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?
As a voting member of the city council I oppose water fluoridation. Why? As a parent I am in favor of fluoridation and the benefits it has to young children including my own daughter. As a council member I opposed water fluoridation as the city should be in the business to only provide safe drinking water for the public. While fluoridation in water supplies has been generally seen as beneficial in the past, times have changed and there are many other sources to provide fluoridation. The key question I asked myself on this debate is if someone came forth to council and wanted to add a substance like Vitamin C to Sandpoint's water supply to provide a health benefit would I be in favor of it?  No, I would not and thus needed to vote against fluoridation.

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? 
Except for long delays on certain days I am satisfied with the construction work on the byway. I believe the contractor, Parsons Construction is doing its best to work with the city and its residents to inform and react to upcoming construction problems. Parsons Construction holds weekly meetings to inform our community and the media on upcoming plans along with offering tours at times of work that has been completed in addition to using local sources for employment and supplies. The real work after the byway is completed is being ready to present downtown Sandpoint in a light that people will want to take part in by coming downtown. This will not just "happen" but will take focused  planning by the city council in the form of downtown revitalization. While some work has been taken much more needs to be done before construction is finished.

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? 
I support keeping the Amtrak station in its current location. I also support saving the existing structure which is the only remaining structure of the original Sandpoint town site. In my view this will need to be a two pronged approach.  One, city, county and state representatives need to keep the pressure on Amtrak, its representatives and the federal government to not abandon this stop. The Amtrak station is an alternate form of transportation for residents and also a large potentially huge bonus in regards to expanding tourism in our area such as Whitefish, Montana has shown with capitalizing on their depot. Second with governmental budgets feeling the strain of the economy and lack of incoming dollars it will take a grass roots effort by the community, much like the Panida Theater, to restore the depot to its former glory. 

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.
I am very satisfied with Sandpoint's Comprehensive Plan. Council and staff took up much of the summer with ongoing meetings to turn this document into one that is very well thought out. It would have been easy for each person to “rubber stamp” the document initially put before us but because of the long hours dedicated we have a good comprehensive plan from which to work from. Now it is up to council to put into action zoning revisions reflecting these changes. In regards to growth I am in favor of growth as it is a naturally evolving process. The key is to implement growth that will keep the character of Sandpoint that its residents enjoy

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 of Sandpoint has been proactive in accomplishing more affordable housing solutions without having to build or own their own work-force housing. Much of this work has been accomplished in the past two years with increased density in zoning along with allowing legal accessory dwelling units. More can be accomplished by keeping our budget in line by not having to raise taxes, holding building fees down to a realistic level for builders and contractors wanting to build within Sandpoint along with allowing a greater portion of the "Bed Tax" in Sandpoint to go to property tax relief.

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?
The economy in Sandpoint is suffering as it is in all parts of the country. Our job as city leaders is to provide an atmosphere that will encourage business growth by working to retain current businesses' along with welcoming new business to our community in a way that will provide for new jobs. This is an issue I have addressed in two previous editorials regarding "customer service" from city staff  as well as very restrictive ordinances that drive out business opportunities.

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 am running for office as I believe in Sandpoint and what it has to offer. Clean air, a beautiful lake, arts, recreation and a secure environment to raise our families. Our community is a place that others only dream about.  It is quality of life and a place that I am proud to call home. I want to do my part by being involved to keep those attributes. In regards to time to devote to the position of city council, I am fortunate to be in a business that allows me to dedicate the time necessary to take on this position. It is a position that asks for a lot at times and I believe my past experience has shown that I have stepped up and dedicated what is necessary to perform the job well.