While it might be a bit premature since I'm having to write this week's editorial before the final votes were counted Tuesday evening, I'd like to extend my personal congratulations to all the candidates who earned a vote of confidence from local voters.
For the first time in many years, the local elections offered voters in Mountain Home and Glenns Ferry with a solid field of contenders, each one hoping to make things better for those who live here. It was refreshing to see so many people wanting to run for office given the number of elections in recent years that were cancelled since those running for office didn't have any challengers.
But now the real work begins. Those that won last night face the daunting task of leading their respective communities at a time when the local economy is showing signs that things are getting better.
The decisions these elected individuals make will set the tone of their respective communities for at least the next four years.
Call me an optimist, but I'm hoping that the slow but steady growth we're starting to see will serve as the catalyst for a number of good things that will help bolster communities across our county. But at the same time, it'll allow us to make more educated decisions without acting out of haste.
Case in point: During the housing boom prior to the 2008 recession, it seemed we were growing way too fast with little to no regard on where developers were building these houses. After all, does it make sense to build a subdivision just a few hundred feet from the state's busiest interstate?
While ultimately a developer has the most say in where that next major subdivision, retailer or factory will go, it doesn't mean that the city can't have some say regarding that type of development, especially since that type of growth comes with the potential consequences.
The good news is that we already have a game plan already on the books. We know where we want to locate the next factories, large-scale businesses and retailers and exactly what the city needs to add to deal with that growth.
While it might not happen tomorrow or even next year, it's now a waiting game for someone to come along to start construction on those new facilities. Ultimately, that represents the first major step in bringing desperately needed jobs to both Mountain Home and Glenns Ferry.
As odd as it may sound, government tends to work extremely slow at times, even at the city and county levels. But to a point, it serves as a type of "safety valve" to prevent our elected officials from making "off the hip" decisions without giving them sufficient time to consider the benefits and, more to the point, the consequences.
Consider the situation in Payette County a few years back where the county commissioners there tried to rush through a plan to bring a nuclear power plant to their county -- the same proposal Elmore County faced at one point. It was a plan that seemed too good to believe.
And unfortunately, it was.
Payette County's rash decision came just as the developer backing the nuclear power deal was subject to an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. Those in charge of that company were later convicted on charges of fraud.
Then there's the situation in Mountain Home where a seemingly routine zoning request for a local church turned into a legal nightmare. It cost the city more than $80,000 to settle without dragging it through the court system.
But consequences like these are just some of the issues elected officials accept when they run for public office.
At the same time, it's important for those voted into office to look at the "big picture" when it comes to Mountain Home Air Force Base. The local military installation remains one of the state's largest economic contributors, and any changes involving the base, good or bad, can have a ripple effect across southern Idaho.
When roughly 30 percent of the base's airmen and their families live in Boise, it's clear that we all need to work together to promote the base's importance.
But herein lies the question: How will our new mayor and the members of the city council work together to encourage our elected officials in Washington, D.C., to take full advantage of what this base has to offer? There's plenty of potential at Mountain Home Air Force Base, and it's important to ensure that message is heard loud and clear both on Capitol Hill and in the state legislature.
For those new to the political arena, I extend my congratulations. But at the same time, I had to include a note of caution: Being in charge is a lot harder than it looks.
-- Brian S. Orban