What the District 3 Ada County commissioner race boils down to in Tuesday’s primary is this question: Does Commissioner David Case deserve another two-year term?
The Idaho Statesman Editorial Board says yes.
Though Case and the other commissioners (Jim Tibbs is not running and Rick Yzaguirre leaves office later this year) could be more forthcoming and communicative at times, we think they have managed the $235 million budget well over the past four years and have done a decent job anticipating and preparing the county for an enormous growth spurt. Estimates are that Idaho’s most populous county will grow from about 440,000 people to more than 700,000 in the next two decades, and there is plenty to do.
Conventional wisdom might suggest a larger population will produce a larger revenue pot to deal with the budgetary science of that equation, but much will depend on the art of managing that growth and the funds to pay for it. It will take planning, hard work and collaboration from all of the county’s stakeholders and 1,700 employees.
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Case and his colleagues already have involved other county officials at the budget planning stage — a new idea that should continue. It is likely the county soon will face decisions on what to do with Les Bois Park and the fairgrounds property in Garden City. We trust Case to deal with all of these things in the county’s best interest over the next two years.
The other choice for District 3 is Sharon Ullman, a bright but controversial public servant who, like Case, has experience serving as a commissioner. She has twice been elected to the commission: in 2000 to a two-year term, after which she was defeated for re-election; and in 2008 for a four-year term, after which she lost to Case in the 2012 GOP primary.
Ullman is campaigning on fiscal responsibility — saying that when she last left the county, it was in excellent financial shape, with money in the bank. Case counters that “we were headed for bankruptcy” and that the county faced tens of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance costs in the wake of Ullman’s last term.
Any of Ullman’s claims to frugality and good judgment, though, seem tarnished. The ill-fated Dynamis project she championed — a trash-to-energy plan for Ada County’s landfill — cost the county at least $4.6 million in startup costs and legal settlements, with nothing to show for it.
Ullman will tell you Case and the county’s legal advisers mismanaged everything about the project after she left office. Her only fault? She says it was being in too much of a rush to take advantage of available federal “stimulus” funds.
We don’t buy Ullman’s version of the Dynamis fiasco — and we have not seen anything approaching that misstep during Case’s tenure. It is time to move on from the Dynamis cloud in Ada County. We prefer to do that with Case in office.
Statesman editorials are the unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesman’s editorial board. To comment on an editorial or suggest a topic, email editorial@ idahostatesman.com.
Idaho Statesman endorsements
The Editorial Board endorsements for Tuesday’s primary:
▪ West Ada School District Recall of Trustees: Against recall of Tina Dean and Carol Sayles.
▪ Idaho Supreme Court: Clive Strong.
▪ District 2 Ada County Board of Commissioners: Democrat TJ Thomson, Republican Teri Murrison.
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