Dare They Debate Sharon?

In a sound bite worthy of the World Wrestling Federation, former Ada County commissioner Sharon Ullman challenges her two primary opponents to a debate on the issues. She faces Steve Kimball and Jay Larsen in a three-way Republican primary.

In a press release she bemoans the lack of interest in the campaign and is open to any format, moderator, or location to offer the public an opportunity to “compare the candidates.”

Even the Daily Paper has refused to make an endorsement in that race. They note Ullman is smart and informed, but “doesn’t play well with others.” The others don’t attend commish meetings or understand the budget process.

Perhaps an “ultimate fighter” format in a caged arena with former Bronco broadcaster Paul J. Schneider doing the play-by-play would generate some interest?

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Earlier this month some people on blog called Voice of Eagle were bemoaning that lack of information on the three republican candidates for Paul Woods’ Ada County Commissioner seat. In response, I composed a brief list of foothills / growth related questions and got on the phone. My questions and their responses (paraphrased) are published below.

    One minor caveat. The responses listed below are the result of my conversations with the candidates. My note taking skills are not the best. If I have inadvertently misrepresented their positions, I apologize a priori and suggest they post their corrections on this blog.

    Tony Jones


    1. When they take office, commissioners have to swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States, the Idaho Constitution, and the laws and ordinances of Idaho and Ada County. Question: Will you enforce the Idaho State Local Land Use Planning Act?

    Sharon Ullman – Yes

    Steve Kimball – Yes

    Jay Larsen – Had not read the document. Thought the commissioners needed flexibility and would not be bound by things like the State’s planning act.

    2. Ada County recently spent thousands of dollars revising the Comprehensive Plan. However, as yet they have not written and adopted the necessary ordinances to convert the new plan (or the old plan for that matter) into enforceable law. As a result, land use law, and thus property rights, in Ada County is whatever the commissioners decide it is and it can change for each and every development application. Question: As commissioner, will you codify the plan and make it an enforceable document?

    Sharon Ullman – Yes

    Steve Kimball – Yes

    Jay Larsen – Had not read the document. Saw no need to limit the commissioner’s options or place additional hurdles in front of developers.

    3. Will you adopt the Foothills Policy Plan?

    Sharon Ullman – Yes. She thought the density levels and density reward system embodied in the plan were reasonable and that the thousands of hours spent coordinating the document with the various federal, state, and local agencies should be rewarded. At the same time she thought the document might need to be revised to include a western foothills sub-area plan.

    Steve Kimball – No. Preferred regulating foothills development on a more ad hoc basis. Felt that some development of the foothills was acceptable, even desirable. At the same time he saw the need to preserve 50% to 75% of the foothills as open space.

    Jay Larsen – Had not read the document. Saw no need for such a plan. Thought development in the foothills was fine and that projects such as Avimor and The Cliffs were welcome additions to the area.

    4. What is your position on Impact Fees such as improvements to Hwy 55 north of State Street to serve Avimor, etc.?

    Sharon Ullman – Does not like impact fees. It is not necessary to extract more new taxes and fees, but rather to get the Idaho Legislature to redirect the money growth is already generating back to the local government entities that provide the infrastructure to serve that growth. Large projects that are far removed from available infrastructure, such as distant planned communities, are an exception. In these cases, requiring the developers to pay the added costs of service to provide the necessary infrastructure (roads, schools, fire, emergency medical services, etc.) should be required.

    Steve Kimball – Does not like impact fees. Feels impact fees are often misunderstood and misapplied. Prefers local improvement districts to direct the costs of development onto the areas being developed

    Jay Larsen – Sees no need for impact fees. Thinks planned communities such as the Avimor and The Cliffs more than cover their costs. Further, he thinks Hwy 55 has more than enough capacity to serve Avimor so it would be inappropriate to ask Avimor to fund improvements to the road system.

    5. How strictly will you enforce the Planned Community Ordinance?

    Sharon Ullman – Planned communities need to be reviewed in the context of all the laws, including the State Local Land Use Planning Act. The only way individuals and businesses, including developers, can make rational land related investment decisions is if the comp plan and associated rules and ordinances are rigidly, consistently, and fairly enforced.

    Steve Kimball – We need to stop approving everything that is thrown at development services. If we are going to have a plan we need to follow the plan. If the plan does not work, we need to change the plan.

    Jay Larsen – Had not read the document. Saw no need to place additional (existing? tj) hurdles in front of developers.

    6. What is you position on Planned Communities?

    Sharon Ullman – Does not dismiss the concept of planned communities out of hand. However, they need to be in, or adjacent to, existing urban areas and fully integrated into existing infrastructure, and need to cover all their costs. See answer to previous question.

    Steve Kimball – He is accepting of the concept of planned communities. However, we need to be certain they can provide for their own water, sewer, traffic, etc. and prove they will not be a burden on other tax payers.

    Jay Larsen – Likes the idea of planned communities. He is familiar with both The Cliffs and Avimor and would have voted to approve both projects.

  2. Clippityclop
    May 14, 2008, 2:52 pm

    Unbelievable responses to Mr. Jones’ questions. Ms. Ullman is the obvious choice in the primary, but I would very much enjoy hearing her debate the other two candidates.

  3. So Sharon Ullman doesn’t play well with others!
    That’s GREAT! What we don’t need is someone who will sell their scruples just to get elected. Sharon may not be the most amicable candidate, but she sure as hell is the smartest.

  4. The answers to Tony’s questions indicate without a doubt that only Sharon has even a clue as to what is needed. Imagine if he had asked questions about the budget or their theories on taxation.

    Larsen appears to be the developer’s choice. It’s doubtful he would even be open to other points of view. The fact that he hasn’t read the documents in question is scary, but even scarier is I bet he didn’t even know they existed and doesn’t seem to care.

    Sharon got a raw deal years ago from Roger Simmons. He constantly ran to the media and made her look like a crazy person and he and the other commissioner had the staff in their pockets so Sharon was prevented from seeing her mail or getting her messages right away. That’s where the doesn’t play well with others label came from. But I’m not sure that that should be the be all and end all in a public official. I want to know they’re on the side of the taxpayer and I know that Sharon always is.

  5. I think a debate would be beneficial and maybe entertaining. Growth is very important issue for most, but I would like to see how the candidates rank in other areas. I am disappointed the Statesman chose to take no stance in this race much less publish any factual information.

    To be fair to the other candidates, Mr. Jones should of disclosed he has done some work for Sharon previously. Mr. Jones website is . Here is a picture of the intial design for completed by Mr. Jones.

  6. Sharon is only informed because she won’t go away. She is at every meeting and every function that the commishes are at, she simply is a has been wanna be commissioner. I agree that we don’t need everyone to think alike on the commission but they have to get along. Look at Boise’s council, what a joke. Look at the time Sharon spent on the commission, another joke, and it wasn’t just Roger. Things don’t get done when you have people constantly arguing and fighting.

    Now about the candidates not knowing or reading everything and anything that Tony has to throw at them. I would like to know how much Paul Woods knew before he took office or any of the other candidates that ran the last time. I would rather someone with real world work experience running than a well informed career politician.

  7. Who wants a “love fest”? Sharon Ullman will make it loud, noisy and disagreable and out of all this will come reasoanble solutions.

    Give me smart, informed, and looking out for the taxpayers any day over the “can’t we all just get along” crowd.

    Go Sharon!

  8. Consensus is highly overrated

  9. There’s this thing called Robert’s Rules of Order, maybe the Statesman has heard of it. It’s what the commissioners use to “get along.” Does the Statesman have any evidence that Ms. Ullman didn’t follow RRO?

    If not getting along means Ms. Ullman didn’t vote yes or no when the other commissioners wanted her to, what’s the big deal?

    Do the current commissioners always follow RRO? Did the commissioners during Sharon’s previous stint always follow RRO?

    My vote is for Sharon Ullman for reasons already stated.

  10. blazing Saddle
    May 14, 2008, 10:46 pm

    My pappy once told me that everyone is ignorant, in his or her own way, to one degree or another. Ignorance of course is the starting point, and all the way stations, on the long road to intelligence. However, only stupid people take pride in their ignorance and show no intent to learn.

    If you’re running a ranch it is okay to hire a person who is ignorant of the many subtleties of knot tying and ropes but it is a mistake to hire someone who doesn’t know anything about them and stupidly persists in thinking they have no purpose.

    Bring on the debate. Let’s see which candidates can avoid hanging themselves.

  11. To Tony Jones: Good job, thanks!

    To Snoop: You say Sharon ” is at every meeting and every function that the commishes are at …” as if that were a *bad* thing! Wow!
    If only more citizens cared enough to show up!

    To Sharon: Go, Sharon, Go!!!

  12. I cannot believe anyone would want any of these three republican whack jobs to represent our communities future. NO vision, No future.

  13. In response to Clancy, you are misinformed with regards to Sharon’s website. Her son designed and built the original site and any current changes – and that is a confirmed fact. So aside from the erroneous info, the point that the residents of Ada County would be well-served by a debate is what I got out of this.

  14. Clippityclop
    May 15, 2008, 12:01 pm

    Have the other candidates responded? I’m sure this could be quickly organized before the primary.

    EDITOR NOTE– No one has responded to our knowledge. Anyone willing to contact the candidates and set up the debate?

  15. Just wait until November and then vote for Paul Woods. He has earned re-election.

  16. Rod in SE Boise
    May 19, 2008, 8:04 pm

    It appears that Sharon is in the Republican primary with 2 other Republican candidates. Here is my debate question for them:

    As Republicans, can we expect each of you, if elected to the County Commission, to pursue a pointless, most likely illegal war against Owyhee County (for instance) and run up a trillion dollar debt that my great grandchildren will slave to pay off?

    I think that is a fair question, since that is what the national Republican Party has done (except substitute Iraq for Owyhee County).

  17. I like Sharon a lot, but after the last 7-1/2 years of Republican rule in this country, I will never vote for another freaking Republican, even for dog-catcher. Obviously local races are different but I think members of the Republican party should do everyone a favor and go throw themselves off the closest bridge. Perhaps the survivors can reform themselves into something that resembles a group which cares about something besides the already overrich. That being said, if I were to vote Republican, I would vote for Sharon. Not a very good supportive statement, but the best I can do.

  18. Sharon helped me with my run for Boise City Council many years back. She was an invaluable resource on almost any topic.

    She is smart as hell and knows what needs to be done to help the people. The rich folk and their growth-forever mindset might not fare so well, but the voters would, and that is what counts.

    I completely back Sharon and hope the Idaho Mistatesman gets off their arse and gives her the nod she deserves.

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