Tuesday, September 26, 2023

EDITORIAL: Elected official has some explaining to do

| August 17, 2022 1:00 AM

There are times when elected officials must do what’s right, future campaign ads against them be damned.

Example: Chris Fillios and Bill Brooks, Kootenai County commissioners, were determined to let voters decide what governmental structure they want, including keeping the current one. But in empaneling a citizens group that was bullied, threatened, ridiculed and ultimately compromised, no proposal will appear on the November ballot and voters will have no say on any possible changes or improvements to the structure of county government.

That citizen-centric approach likely cost Fillios his job because he dared stand up to vested interests. Brooks will not seek re-election.

The city of Hayden now faces one of those times when officials should do what’s right by putting an important question before voters, and thank goodness, all but one of the council members is willing. Assuming there’s time to still get the measure on the November ballot, the Council by a 3-1 vote decided last week to have Hayden residents answer these important questions:

Are you satisfied with the level of law enforcement in your community, and if not, would you be willing to spend a few dollars a week to significantly improve safety in Hayden?

Unlike the county form of government fiasco, a tidal wave of political zealotry is unlikely to overwhelm Hayden council members for letting voters say yes or no to a public safety override levy.

Yet Councilwoman Sandra White voted against letting the citizens decide if they’re willing to pay a little bit — likely $12 or so a month from owners of a $500,000 home — to more than double the sheriff’s office policing presence throughout the community.

Right now, four deputies do their best to blanket the city of some 16,000 people. But that’s not enough — not by a long shot — for even minimal 24-hour coverage seven days a week.

A citizens task force enthusiastically recommends an increase from four to 10 deputies, which would also improve the safety of officers and school children and employees.

The Press applauds the task force for its four months of diligent study and the City Council majority for its willingness to let the citizens decide how to proceed. We would welcome a guest column from Councilwoman White so she can explain her “no” vote.

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