Why I’m Running

Coffee Chat March 3 2020  Not the same ‘ole, same ‘ole

This next week, I will be officially filing as a candidate for Blaine County Commissioner, running as an Independent, non-affiliated candidate.   As an Independent, I am not allowed on the ballot for the May primary, but will be on the ballot in the general election November 3, 2020.   

As Commissioner, I am going to do things differently than the same ‘ole, same ‘ole; I pledge radical transparency and a commitment to treat citizens respectfully as valued participants in our democracy.  Right now, if a citizen wanted to comment on a particular Commissioners’ agenda item, they would first have to know about it (not easy! agendas posted only 5 days in advance online, lots of topics are not clearly noted, but discussed in general reporting areas of the agenda), show up at the upstairs Courthouse at the scheduled time, wait for an hour or so of presentation by staff, and finally get a chance to comment for maybe 3-4 minutes maximum.  

People work!  People have kids and others to take care of at home.  Some folks may find it tough to get to a meeting through physical challenges or lack of transportation.  The first thing I pledge to do is to institute live video filming of Commissioners meetings and allow remote participation by interested citizens.  I would change the hearing of an agenda item to prioritize the comment period first so people who do make the effort participate as citizens to comment are heard first.   I would let people speak until they feel that they have been heard and all of their concerns have been brought up.

Most importantly, I would lead the Commissioners in adopting the attitude that the Commissioners work for the citizens of Blaine County; we are only just representatives to get things done on behalf all Blaine County citizens.  We should be grateful for folks to show up and comment, even when they provide a different viewpoint.  Better decisions are made when diverse viewpoints are aired.  Neighbors should be sought out in advance and consulted proactively when something is proposed that will affect their neighborhood, rather than shunned and avoided as “only nimbys” (I can show you in the meeting minutes where this has actually been said!”)  Blaine County attorney Tim Graves has publicly stated that I have written too many comments to the Commissioners in the past.  This attitude has no place in Blaine County government in the future. 

As well, I have signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge: “ I pledge not to take contributions from oil, gas, and coal  industry executives, lobbyists, and PACs and instead prioritize the health of our families, climate and democracy over fossil fuel industry profits.”  From their site, www.nofossilfuelmoney.org, this organization states that over 2000 politicians have signed this pledge since it was started in 2017.

And why is this important?  In a state where 50% of our power came from coal-fired power plants until most recently, and where our almost-monopoly power company writes campaign donation checks to almost every state legislator through PACs, I wanted to announce a change from doing business in the same ‘ole, same ‘ole way by committing to this pledge publicly, joining other Idaho candidates like Lauren McLean, the new Boise Mayor.  

I will always have a soft spot for Lauren in my heart as she was one of only three people who walked into that Idaho Power shareholder meeting with me back in May 2009 when my shareholder initiative to reduce coal power production was on the ballot.  To get into the meeting, we had to navigate through Idaho Power bodyguards and DO-NOT-CROSS yellow police riot tape.  I think that they thought I was a radical who was going to cause a scene and throw fake blood on coal or something.  But I was just a mom.  A mom who thought that it wasn’t right that other people’s kids living next to these coal-fired power plants were getting sick from the emissions and the tailings ponds; we had to work for clean air for everyone.  Now we know for sure that it is not just our clean air that depends on lower fossil fuel emissions, but actually our way of life, including our snowpack and our prevention of summer wildfires.  Underestimate a mom who won’t accept the same old, same old!

As an Independent candidate, I’m not on your ballot until the November General Election!

As I am running as an Independent candidate and am not affiliated with any party, I will be only on the ballot in the General Election November 3rd.

My independence from the ‘same ole, same ole’ frees me up to really represent the interests of Blaine County citizens first and foremost.  And I am very concerned that so many Blaine residents have been thrown out of work and shut down their businesses with no clear future in sight for our Valley.  My goal is for us to survive and thrive as a safe, economically viable, and vibrant community in the post-pandemic future.

I call on the County Commissioners to reduce their $112,764 salary plus benefits by at least 30% at this time. 

The County’s cash reserves will be drained by the economic hit this pandemic will have on our recreational Valley economy and now is the time to cut plush County expenses so that we can provide the vital County services through many years of recovery.

  • On March 10th I spoke up at the BC Commissioners meeting alarmed that we had direct flights landing daily from the virus hot spots of Seattle & SFO and urged the Commissioners to screen/test everyone coming into our Valley.
  • On March 11th in the Public Health Preparedness meeting , I asked the S Central Health District about the availability of testing as it seemed that S. Korea with its extensive testing was doing a much better job of controlling the spread.
  • Blaine County’s first Covid-19 case was diagnosed March 14.
  • In the March 17th Commissioners meeting I asked the County to help Blaine citizens to file their unemployment claims; provide extra phone support from County staff for citizens at the bare minimum. I also asked at this meeting for the Commissioners to pursue extensive testing & use our geographic isolation and small population as strengths to test everyone here.
  • The County ordered a Shelter-in-place March 19.
  • On April 7th, I asked the County to start modeling the potential effects of a range of various virus scenarios on County revenues and expenses.  I asked the County Commissioners to leverage County staff and resources to help small businesses and sole proprietors to apply for the SBA PPP loans and EIDL loans.  I noted to them that one third of Blaine citizens make less than $50,000 per year, could not afford an unexpected $300 expense, yet had been out of work for a month with no summer season in sight.
  • On April 14th, I asked the Mayor of Sun Valley and the Commissioners to commit to testing the construction and landscaping workers who are going back to work and to record their contacts so that if a worker should get sick, the contacts can quickly be tested as well so that any virus flare-up can be tamped down immediately. My fear is a new wave of infection that grows unchecked again and we have to shut down again.
  • I continue to advocate that anyone coming back into our Valley should also be tested. There are $10 15 minute blood tests with a finger pinprick for antibodies, and active virus quick test swabs. Yes there are lots of unknowns about the antibodies immunity and testing, but this is the least we can do, rather than just open up our community to the virus again without a plan to mitigate.

Rather than focusing on what may divide us, let us all pull together to make this Valley safe from the virus and get people back to work.


For Release:  4/ 15/19

Hailey, Idaho: 

Kiki Tidwell, long-time Idaho resident, renewable energy advocate, and clean tech investor, announces her candidacy for Blaine County Commissioner for the mid-County position up for election November 3, 2020.  Tidwell was moved to run for this mid-Valley seat from her perspective on the proposed second transmission line;  Tidwell wants citizens to know that the Idaho Public Utilities Commission ruling does not require Blaine County to accept this line as proposed sited in its scenic corridor.  Instead, the Commissioners have two other real options right now: they could require the entire line to be buried at Idaho Power’s cost or they could require that, instead of a line, batteries be installed at all substations in the County which would enable emergency backup power as well as an ability to repair the existing line.  

Tidwell, recognized as one of the U.S.’s top female leading clean tech investors, believes that her experience and networks gives her the unique perspective to lead the County forward with an emphasis on resiliency in the face of increasing dramatic weather events.  The catastrophic fires in California recently were started by faults in transmission lines.  However, Idaho Power has dropped repairing the first line from their plan.  The old wooden power poles will stay as a potential fire hazard.  Tidwell knows of what she speaks when it comes to Idaho Power; she undertook and won a successful shareholder initiative with the utility in 2009, one of the only few successful shareholder votes ever in any category.  As well, Tidwell deeply participated as an Intervenor in the PUC transmission line case in the past few years.

Tidwell knows that there is a better way to spend $35 million in our community, she points to entities like https://generatecapital.com/ which finance microgrids, backup batteries, and distributed energy generation including solar, for communities.  The costs for these solutions have come down exponentially, and are sometimes now the least cost solution.  INL stands ready with our data in hand to help the County model a real solution of backup power.

Tidwell states, “This 100 year decision deserves someone well-educated in the energy technology of 2019 and someone who has the ability to prioritize true County energy resiliency in this new era of extreme weather, rather than agreeing to degrade our visual corridor with a non-solution transmission-line-to-nowhere.  If Jacob Greenberg votes ‘yes’ on this transmission line now, he should know that voters will remember it come election day.”


Kiki Leslie Tidwell