More involvement in the process to better address issues of public concern is shared by both candidates in the race for District 2 Idaho County Commissioner.
In the Nov. 3 general election, Independent candidate Joe Cladouhos will face off against Republican Ted Lindsley for the two-year-term seat on the Idaho County Commission.
“Public process, that’s my main theme: to get people involved and make them feel welcome,” said Joe Cladouhos, on his drive for seeking a seat on the county commission.
Cladouhos is retired, having served as CEO for Syringa Hospital for 10 years, which follows five years as CEO for Norton Sound Health Corporation in Alaska, and 13 years as administrator for a medical/dental clinic in Juneau, Alaska.
His civic involvement includes on the Grangeville Chamber of Commerce, board member for both the Grangeville Rural Fire Department and Union Highway District, two terms on the Juneau school board and one term on the Nome city council.
“Since I retired in 2017, I’ve been looking around for something to help out with and use my 30 years experience as a healthcare CEO, and my volunteering on many different boards and commissions,” he said. “I’m an independent; I’m not a partisan person. I don’t want to get pigeonholed into voting for this or that. I want to look at what’s doable for me to help with at the county.”
One of these areas is public policy, which Cladouhos said is “almost nonexistent.” There is no public attendance at Tuesday meetings, and from the commission ‘s end there is no effort in areas to encourage that such as done in counties such as Nez Perce and Valley where video and audio recordings are available to the public, and agendas are posted in the newspaper on upcoming topics, “that encourages people to get involved. It’s been a disappointment to see the lack of interest, the lack of public involvement at the commission level.” This appears partially intentional as the sitting commissioners meet only Tuesday morning and don’t have the time to commit further.
“I’m retired, I have as much time as is necessary,” he said.
“I’m used to functional advisory boards and commissions, been on multiple volunteer efforts in the past, so I would want to involve people in things.”
One of these is on solid waste collection, which Cladouhos said has increased approximately 50 percent from 10 years ago, from $1.3 million to $2 million. He questioned, “Why the blank check for the sanitation contractor?”, the apparent lack of effort to control costs and instead keep increasing fees, and where was the public process? In the span of two meetings -- June 30 to Aug. 4 -- commission discussion went from looking to own its own roll-off site for collection to this being turned over to the private contractor; a 180-degreereversal with no apparent discussion, public input or process.
“How did they come to that conclusion without the talking of the commissioners between meetings, which shouldn’t be done.
This is a public body,” he said. “I wonder how things get done without any public input.”
Another issue is on emergency medical services (EMS), which Cladouhos said Idaho County has never supported.
Five ambulance and five QRU (quick response units) operate in the county, some of which struggle, he said, and in 2018, the EMTs sent a letter to the commission on the need for help for recruitment to replace retiring members. He said the county has turned its back on supporting these EMTs, “and in my background in health care, I don’t understand. If we have people in Powell, Lowell, who need help from the county, they’re just on their own.”
On these and other issues -- including the increasing county budget, support for recycling and land use -- “these are things that need to be talked about, and I bring a nonpartisan view on that; I refuse to get into division,” he said, and as a commissioner he would bring public involvement into its discussion to make progress and move forward on issues.
“There are so many good people out here with knowledge,” Cladouhos said, “but they need the opportunity to get together and talk. That’s what’s missing: no public input, no public process. That’s my goal if I happen to get elected.”
“It’s important to give back to the community
that has given to me, and my family, for many years,” said Ted Lindsley. In running for the commission,
he said, “I’m trying to do my part to help where it’s needed.”
Lindsley was born and raised in Grangeville, and in work came up through the family’s furniture business started by his grandparents.
Following college, he returned to Grangeville where he ventured into the hospitality industry, opening Super 8 in 1999. Along with this, he owns and manages several area rental properties. Besides his businesses, Lindsley has been involved in Grangeville Boosters, Grangeville Lions, school activities, as well as assisting his wife with the nonprofit Kids Klub for about 10 years.
“This is my first time running for elected office, so I’m sure it’s going to be a new side of the world to experience,” he said. He recognizes the multitude of issues and responsibilities of the county -- from maintaining transportation infrastructure, overseeing and providing for county employees to how to manage solid waste collection --and that on the commission he’s likely to be spending his time asking questions and learning.
“Right off the bat, I’ll go in with big ears and small mouth,” Lindsley smiled, “and listen to what’s going on and what’s been happening, what the needs are, what the challenges are, and see if I can’t offer another opinion or view.
To be helpful is my primary goal.”
On what he would bring to the commission, Lindsley said it would be his business experience, which would complement those businessmen on the board currently: Skip Brandt and Denis Duman.
“It’s really not much different than running a business,” he said regarding the commission’s work, in providing efficient public service.
“How do we promote the things we need, promote this as a group and a county and in helping to make it better, and can we form a better path for down the road?” he said. “Like starting a business and building it up to something, it’s a process of many, many days and nights thinking about it, being involved in it and getting your hands in there and getting it done.”
“It’s a way to be helpful to the county,” Lindsley said of seeking to serve on the commission, “and to the community and the people who live here.”