Richert: Everyday Idahoans can have role in Valley's future

Vision for the Valley

krichert@idahostatesman.comSeptember 4, 2008 

On Aug. 24, we launched Vision for the Valley, an editorial project designed to focus our sights on our future.

Our goal is to encourage the Valley's leaders to make the kind of decisions that position us for growth when the national economy rebounds. Just as importantly, we're encouraging us all to think about what makes the Valley special - and the unique attributes we should build on.

So what do you have to say? Among the most interesting remarks:

In a letter appearing below, Tim Breuer, executive director of the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley, makes an eloquent case for making open space a focal point. An excerpt:

"Open space close to home is the cornerstone of a vibrant community and a Vision for the Valley with shelf life.

"Open space provides multiple benefits to communities. It helps provide clean water and healthy streams for fishing, swimming and floating. It helps reduce flood hazard, provides watchable wildlife habitat and connects people with nature. Open space can shape growth patterns that assist in providing clean air. Businesses choose to locate in communities that embrace open space, providing an economic benefit. Healthy activities like walking and riding increase in communities with ample open space. And farmland can provide a source of local food. ...

"Ensuring open space close to home is a vision for the future worth investing in."

One commenter argues for investing in infrastructure - but not necessarily in transportation:

"If you really want a future for Idaho, focus on basic infrastructure, such as education and telecommunications. Roads? Mass transit? Those are valuable, but the future is telecommuting - not transporting workers."

Another commenter makes a strong argument for acting locally:

"The Treasure Valley is going to have to assume responsibility for its own destiny. The governor (and not just the current one), the Legislature and most of state government are a hindrance to urban prosperity. Elected officials in the Valley must work together to form a common vision and to address common problems. Some progress has been made, but not nearly enough to put us on the track to a great quality of urban life."

If we wait for the politicians to come up with a vision, we're wasting our time, writes one commenter:

"Elected officials won't do anything to bring about positive changes, and that is ALL of them from both sides! The only thing they will do is take credit for something positive, and blame it on someone else if it is negative. What will turn this around is the same thing that happened years ago. Until a Joe Albertson or a Jack Simplot comes along and brings this state back to prosperity, nothing will happen. The private sector will drive our economy, and the best, and only, thing government can do is make the atmosphere positive for the private sector!"

I believe elected officials have to play a role - but we all do. There's a place for the private sector, and for everyday Idahoans. Don't leave the future entirely to elected officials, or to the next generation of business magnates.

Our editorial board will discuss the Vision for the Valley project with community leaders and political candidates in the months ahead, and we'll share what we hear. But it's vitally important that we hear from you. It's your community, and this is your best place to be heard.

Send us a letter to the editor or a guest opinion. Or post a comment at our Vision for the Valley forum page. Whatever the format, I look forward to hearing from you.

INSIDE THE ENDORSEMENTS

Our editorial board began interviewing candidates Wednesday for our fall election endorsements.

A few quick notes:

Since most candidates have already filled out their Statesman online candidate surveys, we're tailoring our interviews to cover new ground, rather than overlap with topics already covered in the questionnaire. If you'd like to see exactly what the editorial board is reading, check out responses to our online voter guide.

We will record our interviews and post them online. However, we won't post them online until we have met with all candidates in a race. We do not want a candidate to have the unfair advantage of listening to his or her opponent. But once we've met with the candidates, you'll be able to hear exactly what the editorial board heard.

Endorsement editorials will begin appearing in October. Check our voter guide in the Sunday, Oct. 5, Statesman for a full schedule.

Meanwhile, read my blog for news from the endorsement interviews, and backstory about our endorsements.

Kevin Richert: 377-6437

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