moscow.com presents:

Linda Pike

(candidate for 2004 Latah County Commissioner, district 3)

1. The Latah County Commissioners are responsible for the operation of Latah County and management of its employees. What training and experience do you have to successfully manage this county government, including the budget, risk management, human resources, and communications responsibilities?
          
Having been a budget analyst at Boeing and owned and operated a farm as well as a law practice, I have had experience in budgeting resources. Also, Iíve served as Personnel Chair for a church where Personnel was the major component in the quarter million dollar budget. Iíve also been on committees for non profits and helped prepare the annual budget. I have gotten copies of the proposed County budget for 2005 and am reviewing it and gathering information.

As a city attorney, I have attended Idaho Risk Management (ICRMP) classes and helped advise that city as well as other clients dealing with budget, risk management, human resources, and communications issues. As an attorney and a former administrative judge, I have the education and experience to see both sides of issues and can work to prevent problems from occurring and deal with them when they do. Communicating with clients and third parties is what I do as an attorney. I also prided myself in being able to communicate with both sides when they appeared before me in hearings while I was on the Board of Tax Appeals. At the end of the hearing, I would sum up what I believed to be the essence of each sideís case and repeat it back to see if I understood correctly. Usually they agreed that I understood and when they didnít think I did, then we took time for more explanations.

I worked at the Green Giant Co. and reported directly to the Personnel Director. I dealt directly with cannery and farm laborers, many of whom were migrant workers and spoke little English. As Coordinator of the RSVP program for Latah County, I worked closely with volunteers and seniors on many levels as well as the Moscow City Staff since RSVP provides volunteers to staff the 1912 Building. In addition, I have chaired the Personnel Committee for the 1st Presbyterian Church in Moscow for the past 3 years. This committee and I have interviewed and hired all of the staff including a minister, choir director, youth director, bell choir director, and various educators as well as conducted annual reviews and dealt with a variety of sensitive personnel issues.

        
2. Should the Commissioners do more to help complete the Latah Trail? If so, what?
          
The Latah Trail is an important and wonderful addition to Latah Countyís park system, but it is an enormous undertaking that will take some time to complete. I have reviewed the proposed budget for 2005 and the amount allocated to the trail and other expense items. There are many necessary expenses and some very worthwhile optional ones. Given the many places to put our tax dollars, I believe they are doing what can be afforded currently. It is my understanding that there has been unanimous support for the concept. I am always ready to listen to ideas from Trail supporters that will help make Latah Trail work, e.g., breaking the project into do-able steps or parts.

        
3. Rural businesses may require a Conditional Use Permit to operate, and the decision to grant that permit is often made by the Commissioners. If rural neighbors object to the business, how would you decide whether or not to grant the permit? What are the important criteria for you and how do you balance the rights of the business and the neighbors?
          
First the parties who want the CUP would apply through the Planning/Zoning Dept. After a decision was made that a CUP was required, the applicant would appeal to the Zoning Commission which would give the required notice to the public, and then hold a hearing on the issue. The applicant would present its case through testimony and evidence. Someone from the Planning Dept. would advise the Zoning Commission of the applicable rules, statutes, and case law. Any opponents to the CUP would also be granted an opportunity to present testimony and evidence as to whether the CUP should be granted. The Zoning Commission should weigh the evidence in light of the applicable law and make a decision based on the facts and law.

If appealed, the case would go before the Board of County Commissioners (Board) acting as a quasi judicial body. It would then hold a due process hearing, giving notice, and taking testimony and evidence from both parties. The Board would have legal counsel (deputy prosecutor) on both the procedure and substantive law. It will then weigh the benefits for the public and the applicant against the burdens the opponents would bear. Some questions they might ask are: 1) Did the opponents come to the nuisance? 2) Are there restrictions that could be applied to mitigate any harm that the opponents might suffer? 3) Would the granting of the CUP meet the objectives of the comprehensive plan?

These decisions can be very difficult as any decision will likely make at least one side unhappy but if the rationale for the decision is logical, thorough, based on the facts and evidence, as presented, and each side believes that it received a fair hearing, then due process has been followed and justice has been served. As a former administrative judge who has heard hundreds of cases I want to develop procedures that could make the hearing process more efficient and fairer.

        
4. In July, Commissioner Paul Kimmell excused himself from the decision-making regarding the setting of property tax exemptions for Christ Church and New St. Andrews College, since he had worked as a real estate consultant for the church, was a church member, and was a member of the college advisory board. Do you have any similar ties to local organizations that would lead you to excuse yourself for a similar conflict of interest if that organization sought a property tax exemption?
          
Currently I serve on the Board of the 1st Presbyterian Church. (My term ends this December.) If I were still on that Board and the Church was a party to a tax appeal, I would have to recuse myself for a conflict of interest. My husband and I also serve as attorneys for Latah Health Services, Inc. and I would have to recuse myself if there were issues before the Board of Commissioners where I would have a conflict of interest. A conflict could arise if a client of ours had an issue before the Board of Commissioners on a matter for which we had advised them.

I believe the current rules require recusal only if the Commissioner has an economic conflict of interest but I believe it is prudent to recuse oneself if there is any perception of a conflict of interest and ties to the entity or matter would prevent one from making a fair decision.

        
5. How do you plan to use email, websites, or any other communication tools to inform residents about county programs or to gather input from those residents? Please include biographical information about yourself, email, phone, or website contact information, and any other message you want to share with county voters.
          
I currently have a web site, http://users.moscow.com/pike/pike.html which can be accessed as a link from the Latah County Democrats, and my e-mail address is pike@moscow.com. I can be contacted by phone at 882-5273.

I would encourage county residents to get on the Latah Countyís e-mail list for notice of the Commissioners agendas and proceedings and I would hope to take advantage of e-mail service provided at the Court House for elected officials. If people donít have e-mail capability, they should be able to pick up an agenda and a copy of the proceedings from the Court House. They can also call the Court House and speak to the Commissionersí administrative assistant, and the proceedings and agenda are also published in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

I have been involved in this community for about 18 years, and visit with many people about issues and I would expect that contact would only increase once one is an elected official. Holding town meetings in the outlying areas is a possibility but my impression is that they are poorly attended unless it is specific to that townís issues and interest. I would be willing to explore that further if elected. And, of course, anyone may call me personally or just talk to me in person.

        
6. Please include biographical information about yourself, email, phone, or website contact information, and any other message you want to share with Moscow voters.
          
I have had many experiences throughout my life to prepare me to be a county commissioner. I grew up on a family farm where I raised cattle and drove a grain truck during harvest. I graduated from Oklahoma State University with a BS in business, received a BA in home economics from Central Washington University, and a JD from the University of Idaho School of Law in 1990.

Along the way, Iíve worked on a cattle ranch, been a forestry thinner, a programmer/systems analyst, budget analyst, and a partner with my husband on our own farm which we still own. We have lived in Moscow since 1987 and been practicing law here for 13 years. In 1996, Republican Governor Phil Batt appointed me to the Idaho Board of Tax Appeals where I served as a board member and administrative judge for 6 Ĺ years. I conducted hundreds of tax appeal hearings and completed courses at the National Judicial College in Reno, NV.

Here in Latah County, Iíve served as Chair of the Latah County Democrats; Co-Chair of the League of Women Voters, Moscow; and President of the local chapter of AARP. I served on the first Latah Youth Accountability Board; been a member of the Latah Zoning Commission; and the Latah Health Services, Inc. Board. Currently I am finishing out a 3 year term on the 1st Presbyterian Church Board, and have just completed service as the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Coordinator for Latah County.

My husband, Bob, and I have 2 sons, Lee of Williamsburg, VA, and Tom married to Jennine of Moscow.

I have the right combination of EDUCATION, EXPERIENCE AND BACKGROUND to serve the people of Latah County as Commissioner. As the County grows and develops, more issues like the recent gravel pit request and numerous tax appeals will become more frequent. My legal training and experience as an administrative judge for several years has prepared me to handle these issues. I know how to conduct fair hearings, gather facts, and make decisions based on the facts and the law. The structure of the 3 member Board of County Commissioner mirrors that of the 3 member Board of Tax Appeals, so I have had experience working and cooperating with other board members.

Iíll Listen and want to hear what concerns the voters and taxpayers of Latah County have to say.

        
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