Hassell Says His Priorities Helping City
Al Hassell will try to become only the second person in the history of the city to win a second term as mayor.
“I enjoy this job, as long as I can be effective,” Hassell said. “I think I bring a logical approach to dealing with controversial issues.”
Hassell said he would continue to focus government where it belongs. “As I said four years ago, we need to get back to the basics and improve infrastructure and the appearance of the community,” he said.
While Hassell believes much of that work is done, “it’s a moving target,” he said. “We need to continue that - it will in turn bring in more jobs and help the community’s economy.”
Hassell served eight years on the council before running for mayor in 1993, upsetting Coeur d’Alene’s only two-term mayor - Ray Stone. He is co-owner of an insurance and financial planning business.
He cites privatizing some city operations - like parking enforcement - and computerizing and automating City Hall as some of the hallmarks of his administration. The latter means “we can accomplish more without increasing the number of people,” Hassell said.
In the next four years, he wants to see more “emphasis on community self-help - more neighborhood groups that help with the quality of life issues,” he said.
Hassell also supports downtown revitalization as an important project that allows government to help people help themselves, he said.
There also is the challenge of maintaining the delicate balance between the need for economic growth without having too much growth, he said.
Hassell sees no easy answers for the Sanders Beach controversy, where a homeowner on East Lakeshore Drive is building on a small lot next to Lake Coeur d’Alene. People in surrounding neighborhoods are worried it means the end of public access to a tiny beach where generations of children have learned to swim.
“I would love nothing better than to have the city buy and maintain it for the city as a whole,” Hassell said. “There are too many unanswered questions.”
The courts have never made it clear where private ownership starts in relation to the average high water mark, for example. “There’s only between $6 million and $7 million in the city’s property tax budget and if this is taken through the court system, that could cost millions,” Hassell said.
“Then the purchase could cost millions. I’m not sure a debt of that size is something I would like to leave my community.”
Instead, Hassell suggested the people who want to use the beach get together with the people who own the lots and work out a way to keep the narrow strip of sand open.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo