Dalton Gardens mayor bows out

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When Jeff Fletcher was appointed as mayor of Dalton Gardens in April, he was dedicated to righting the ship of city government that had floundered in a storm of voter discontent.

Fletcher was among the applicants appointed to city council after a March recall election left Dalton Garden’s council with just two former members.

Fletcher’s name was conspicuously absent from a list of mayoral candidates who registered for the election by last Friday’s deadline.

Dan Edwards, who applied but wasn’t chosen to fill the council and mayor seats left vacant after the March recall, and who also sat on the city’s planning and zoning board, is the city’s only candidate for mayor, according to Kootenai County’s election department.

Fletcher, a City of Coeur d’Alene fire captain who also manages his wife’s medical practice, said family and business obligations forced him to reconsider running for the city’s top office in November.

He hopes to have made a difference during his time in city government and may take another shot at it when his schedule allows.

“I’m not comfortable with the time constraints,” Fletcher said. “Whoever takes that job will have to put 10 to 15 hours a week into it.”

The next mayor will also be in line to wrestle with a couple issues that were at the crux of the recall.

The city is being sued for allowing a subdivision that opponents say is illegal and doesn’t follow city code, and a Fourth Street reconstruction project that some residents said they were not aware was being planned, still rankles voters.

The widening of Fourth Street, which runs through the heart of residential Dalton Gardens, was the topic of a Tuesday night open house at Dalton Elementary School gym.

The status of the project as well as new engineering information was presented to residents at the meeting, along with a set of options, and stipulations on how the $4 million available for the work must be spent.

Fourth Street is a major route through the residential part of Dalton Gardens that sees as many as 7,000 cars daily. The city began making plans in 2012 for refurbishing Fourth Street before it applied for the grant that will pay for the project. Opponents of the project have accused the city of making plans behind their backs.

Council member Jamie Smith — who is among candidates running for two city council seats along with incumbent Scott Jordan and Dalton residents Drew Dittman, Robert Wuest and Aaron O’Brien — said she regretted seeing Fletcher leave the council.

“He took this on, he worked hard and did his homework,” Smith said. “He definitely spent the time.”

There is the possibility that someone may write in as a last minute candidate for the Dalton Gardens mayoral position, Fletcher said, but he isn’t likely to.

“It wasn’t an easy decision,” Fletcher said. “But it’s too important (a position) to just phone it in.”

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