In his bid for mayor of Hayden, Mike Sperle must contend this year with an election fluke: He accidentally recruited his own opponent.
This summer, Sperle urged former councilman Gordon Andrea to run again.
Andrea did - for mayor.
And so, three months after the two chatted in Andrea’s front yard, they’re facing off for the city’s top office.
Hayden’s current mayor, Vince Rossi, was appointed to fill Dick Panabaker’s seat one year ago, and said at the time he didn’t intend to run in this election.
Growth is likely to be a big factor in the race - Hayden has grown from 3,700 to about 6,000 people in five years, an addition of nearly 800 homes.
Andrea, 56, owns concession stands. He said he doesn’t oppose growth but wants it controlled.
“And I have nothing to gain,” the former six-year councilman said. “Mike is a developer, and I think there’s a direct conflict between being a developer and being mayor.”
Plus, Andrea said, he has more time to devote to the job. His business is seasonal, and he doesn’t have young children, as Sperle does.
“When somebody comes knocking on your door, you’ve got to give them the time,” said Andrea, 56. “You’re the mayor.”
Andrea said he’d like to see the city, often upstaged by Rathdrum or mistaken for nearby Hayden Lake, get an identity of its own.
“Sandpoint has the festival; Hayden has nothing,” he said. “I’d like to have something that sets us apart and makes us unique.”
Sperle is sensitive to the term “real estate developer,” feeling it has negative connotations in Hayden. But he said there would be no conflict between his development business and being mayor.
“I would get nailed by clerks, city engineers, city councilmen,” he said. “There’s too much protection in there for me to go in there for my own benefit.”
If his projects came before the council, he said, he would declare a conflict and turn the gavel over to someone else.
“I’m a businessman,” he said. “I know how to manage things.”
As a developer, Sperle said he can help steer that growth. He says developers should pay the costs of growth - such as new streets and schools. His projects, he said, have given the city more than $200,000 in road work and voluntary “impact fees.”
“I want to manage, cut the budget, move some things around, get some road improvements and get some light industrial development,” said Andrea, 35. Sperle now sits on the city’s planning commission and a local sewer board.
“I’m more informed on what the issues are,” he said. “I’ve been to nearly every City Council meeting for the past four years.”
Also in Hayden, four people are running for two council seats:
Richard W. Cook Jr., 35, is an industrial mechanic who’s served two years on the city planning commission. His mother, Darlene Ferrians, is a councilwoman. Cook said he and his mother are both independent thinkers, not necessarily allies.
“We respect each other’s point of view,” he said.
Cook’s goals are to keep up with city growth and maintain the quality of life without an undue tax burden.
“And I would like to think I’ll be a spokesperson for our kids,” he said. “Almost everyone on our council now is retired.”
Suanne Dedmon, 47, is the financial manager of Silverwood theme park. She said she was recruited by Concerned Businesses of North Idaho, a budget watchdog group.
Dedmon said she’d like to streamline city administration and rein in taxes. As a newcomer to city government, she said, she’d have a fresh outlook.
“I’m pretty moderate, I’m a good listener and I’m a good investigator,” she said.
Karl Janson, 77, has served on the council for 14 years. A retired state transportation maintenance supervisor, streets are Janson’s big issue. He helped start the city’s streets department, and wants more road repairs, bike paths and parks.
“When I started here, they had several miles of gravel roads,” he said. “We have very little left.”
Candidate Bob Spurr could not be reached.
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