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Balanced Loyalties Work Best For All

Sun., Oct. 26, 1997

The Coeur d’Alene mayor’s race is for people who perennially complain that they’re forced during elections to choose between the lesser of two evils. Both Mayor Al Hassell and challenger Steve Judy are qualified to serve Lake City as mayor.

Both are visionaries who pay attention to detail.

The main difference between the two is their style - and allegiances.

Hassell goes about his work quietly, not caring who gets the credit for the things his administration has accomplished. He’s an independent servant of the whole community who has always made the town’s movers and shakers nervous.

Judy, on the other hand, fashions himself as a consensus builder who served for two years as point man for the controversial Concerned Businesses of North Idaho. He’d be a high-profile mayor with statewide ties who some day could represent Idaho in the U.S. Congress.

The race is one of experience and independence versus potential. We prefer the candidate with the proven track record. We endorse Hassell, the most progressive Coeur d’Alene mayor of the past quarter century.

Hassell may be low key but his fingerprints can be seen everywhere in Coeur d’Alene.

Hassell began his tenure in 1993, by successfully stumping for a $9 million street bond that has transformed the city’s transportation system. During his watch, the city reconstructed Ramsey Road, East Sherman Avenue and sections of Government Way.

Also, Ramsey Park, Fort Sherman Playground, Skaters Park and Canfield Park were added to the city’s impressive park system. City Hall was computerized. Some city services were consolidated. Or privatized. Impact fees were implemented. A second fire station was built.

The city did all this while keeping taxes in check. The average owner of a house worth $108,000 today is paying $289 in city taxes - $10 less per year than in 1990.

Judy, understands constituent service, too.

He cut his teeth as an aide for then-U.S. Rep. Larry Craig and later for U.S. Sen. Dirk Kempthorne. He also worked for the leaders of Coeur d’Alene’s business community while serving for two years as the top executive for Concerned Businesses. In fact, he announced his candidacy only days after he quit his job with the business group, which makes us nervous.

We’d like to think Judy’s candidacy isn’t a front for the special-interest group to capture City Hall. After all, allies of Concerned Businesses already control the Kootenai County commissioners office. Officeholders should respect business needs. But they also should balance those needs against the public good. Al Hassell has done that.

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

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