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Sandpoint In Need Of Strong Leaders

Sandpoint is at a crossroads.

Struggling to keep the Festival at Sandpoint and improve its human-rights image, the city is faced with replacing its mayor and two-thirds of its council.

With such wholesale change ahead, the new mayor has to be experienced, able to communicate, a consensus builder and a capable representative to the outside world, which knows Sandpoint only for Mark Fuhrman and Ruby Ridge.

The Spokesman-Review believes Councilman David Sawyer best meets those qualifications and should be the next mayor.

Sawyer, Councilman Ray Miller and a third candidate, tavern owner John Conlan, agree on the basics: Sandpoint needs to attract small businesses, provide jobs for youth, support the festival and improve its undeserved image.

After 14 years on the council, Miller has an edge over his two opponents in local government experience. But Sawyer’s temperament, broad community involvement and commitment to open government more than offset this one disadvantage.

Sawyer, a manager for a solar-energy company, helped found the Bonner County Human Rights Task Force, serves on the Clean Air Coalition, and is active with senior, public transportation and School-to-Work programs. He wants the city to complete its long-range plan for growth and has promised to become a full-time mayor.

Miller, a Sandpoint High economics teacher, has good ideas about getting a U.S. Highway 95 bypass over Sand Creek and cracking down on juvenile crime. But he’s part of a City Council that’s known for back-room politics and last year sprung a divisive annexation on the countryside. Only Sawyer opposed the land grab, later declared illegal.

Oddly, Miller currently is pursuing a $1 million lawsuit against the Bonner County School District over threatening comments made by a former superintendent. If he wins the suit, Sandpoint residents, who are part of the district, will help pay to compensate him.

Miller represents the status quo. And the flaps involving the 1994 annexation, Fuhrman and the festival prove Sandpoint needs to go in a new direction.

Sawyer is the candidate who offers new ideas and a new direction.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = EDITORIAL, ENDORSEMENT, COLUMN - Our View CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board

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